Again, this week kind of overlaps last week's lesson, but also throws in the need for being positive. Actually, this probably should be lesson 1 but its something you will always have to work on, so its probably of little consequence where it falls in this 4 part article.

OFFER Your Help
Another thing you can do is to always offer your help. Let your spouse choose if they want your help. Often when I see John struggling with something I will move to help him without asking if he needs it and things usually end with him getting mad at me. This is because I am either helping in a way that interferes with what he is doing, there isn't anything I can really do, or he feels it would put me at risk. Another reason your spouse may reject your offer of help is that they wish to accomplish the task on their own, either to prove something to you, or to themselves, sometimes both. 

So I have learned that its better to ask than to assume. If you are hurt or confused by your spouse's rejection of your offer to help then feel free to ask them to explain why, though if tensions are high its best to wait till they have calmed down to try to discuss it. When discussing this topic its best to approach it with an open mind. Truth is that you may be pleasantly surprised by your spouse's answer, though sometimes their answer may hurt. If this is the case seek to understand why they feel the way they do so you can come to terms with it. If its something that can be worked on ask your spouse for suggestions on how you might handle it differently in the future.

Avoid Negativity
Something else that is tremendously important to do when trying to relearn to love your spouse is to avoid being negative at all costs. This means that you should try to avoid thinking negative thoughts about your spouse as well as avoid speaking negatively to and of your spouse. The more you think critically, and speak negatively the less likely you are to view your spouse in a positive light. Its hard to love someone you spend all your time bashing. Now, I do not recall where I read this insight but when I did I sought to follow the challenge presented to avoid negativity. I was shocked and appalled to discover that a good portion of my communication with John was negative or demeaning, that I often thought of him in negative terms, and was a little loose tongued when it came to venting to friends about our marital issues. No wonder he thought I wasn't any fun anymore! No wonder he didn't enjoy spending time with me! All I ever did was nag him every chance I got. If I were in his position I probably would think I was annoying too. 

Does this mean that I let all the things I want and need to say to John fly out the window in favor of being positive all the time? No, certainly not. I just have to be much more careful in the way that I bring something up. Instead of saying 'You never do this anymore. You don't love me.' I have to say 'Honey, do you remember when you did this? I really enjoyed that... Do you think we could do it again some time soon?'. This puts the want or need in the form of a request instead of a demand. This is often the best route to take because it reminds your spouse of something you enjoy without implying that they are failing to making you happy. Remember that your spouse does love you, they wouldn't have married you if they didn't, so if they stop doing something you enjoy give them the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming they are being vindictive. Chances are they've just forgotten about it and need some gentle reminding. Your spouse has a life outside of their relationship with you, they are busy and have a lot on their mind, just as you do...sometimes the needs of their spouse get lost or forgotten in all the mess they have to deal with on a daily basis. And I bet if you were to ask them they would  have a need or two of their own that you have been unintentionally neglecting.

Also, be sure to praise your spouse when they do something you like or would like them to do more often. Sometimes this praise need not be in the form of words, and sometimes it does. If your praise seems to embarrass your spouse then don't make it a long drawn out compliment. If they seem to enjoy a lot of praise then try to fill that need to the best of your ability, but within reason. If the good deed is not too personal, feel free to 'brag' about it to your friends or family. Obviously I like to hear those things directly from my husband, but it makes me feel even better when I find out that he has been saying nice things about me to other people too. It lets me know that when he compliments me its not just to get me to shut up, its because he genuinely appreciates what I did and is proud that I am his wife. Why is praise so important? If the good deeds of your spouse go unrecognized and unrewarded then they will be more likely to forget that its something you like, or may feel you do not like it and will stop. If you want something to grow you must feed it, and the food of good behaviors is encouragement and praise.

So this week, and for every week of the rest of your life, try to be positive about your spouse. Do not be so positive that you cannot see when the situation is really bad and needs an intervention, but seek to see the good in your spouse and cultivate and encourage those behaviors. Also, try not to force your help on your spouse. If they are doing something wrong, let them recognize it on their own and help them if they ask for it. Only intervene when someone or something may be hurt or damaged in the process.
2/9/2012 23:14:03

Thanks for the article. This is very helpful. Very good tips and all true about our spouses and how we should avoid negative comments. I think being positive hen you talk to your spouse can make a big difference in the marriage. Great job!

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