After starting out so in love with my spouse, how is it that I sometimes find him/her so annoying and hard to live with? What happened to the person I married?
It's true... they did change - just like I did, but something that probably changed even more was my perspective. During our "honeymoon phase," I saw mostly the positives and minimized the negatives. Gradually, what stands out are the things that irritate me.
I may have a spouse who people think is an amazing person - likable, talented, hard-working, smart, funny, and on and on....But I can tell you every one of their flaws in detail. When I'm feeling particularly down on life, I might want to blame my spouse for the things I don't like about my life or about myself. If I'm honest and take a second look, I can begin to see that maybe the problem is not my spouse. Maybe my attitude and perspective are the bigger issues.
Ken: When I focus on Janine's imperfections, I feel irritated. Instead of focusing on why dinner isn't ready, I can choose to remember that I have a loving wife who puts up with my flaws. Instead of allowing my irritability to create an icy atmosphere, I can choose to pitch in and help get dinner ready. As someone once said, "Foreplay starts in the kitchen"!
Janine: When I focus on Ken's shortcomings - like his impatience in traffic - I get agitated. I'm tempted to make snide remarks about his driving, which would only lead to more friction between us. I've finally come to the point where I stop and remind myself of how intelligent and caring Ken is. I make the decision to trust his good judgement and rather than offering my advice on how he should be driving, I purposefully start a conversation on an unrelated topic - obviously making our time in the car more enjoyable.
Do you wonder what happened to the person you married? They're not gone. They're still there. It just might have been a while since you've adjusted your lense to focus on the positive.
Take a quick inventory and answer the following questions:
- What first attracted me to my spouse?
- When we were dating, one thing I appreciated most about my spouse was _______.
- What are 2 or 3 positive traits I see in my spouse now? (For example: kindness, patience, sense of humor, generous, cheerful, responsible, courageous, cooperative, honest, adventurous, etc)