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What Happened to the Person I Married?

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.

Scientists have found that human brains have something called a "negativity bias": when left to our natural tendencies, we automatically notice (and remember) the negative qualities in others rather than the good ones.

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)
Now that you've taken the time to remind yourself of what it is you love about your spouse, you might want to go a step further and tell them your answers to those questions above.  Letting him or her know what you love about them could fan the flames and help shift their perspective too.


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