In my Marriage Counseling practice I often work with clients who are angry with their spouses. In fact, they often get stuck in their anger. Usually what is underneath the anger is hurt, and sometimes they have difficulty expressing that hurt. When you are focusing on the other person’s negative behavior, you continue to create negative feelings in yourself. You feel hurt or angry and you continue to attract people and situations that you perceive as hurtful. Or you attract situations that make you mad. Your interpretation or the meaning you place on events is focused on the negative– what is wrong with the other person. And then that is all you see.
See the Positive and Change Yourself
So why not try thinking the other way around? Focus on the positive and attract positive people and situations. Think about placing positive meanings on your spouse’s behavior. Instead of finding fault, try accepting that this is the way he or she is. After several years of being together, you know that this is how he thinks, this is how he behaves, and his personality is like this. What you see is what you get! Instead of getting mad and trying to tell him or her how to change, put your energy into changing yourself. Handle the situation differently. Try a different behavior. Do something new. Accept responsibility for improving the relationship. You might try not speaking the critical things you have usually thought of him. Think of his intentions. Think about the good qualities in him and the wonderful things he does. Thinking of the ways you are grateful will get you out of your negative rut. When you do this, you accept your spouse. You allow him to be just the way he is (which he is going to be anyway!)
Stop Complaining and Focus on Gratitude
I am currently working with an executive who is angry with her husband for his moodiness and distance. Instead of complaining to him she is focusing on her gratitude for what he does. As she allows him to be the way he is, she doesn’t take it personally and refuses to think that he is upset with her. Nor does she interpret his distance as rejection.
When she needs her positive, happy and involved spouse, she approaches him with kindness and asks for what she wants or needs. She approaches with a loving attitude and usually receives a kind response. Before this, she complained about him and felt responsible for changing his mood. She also felt lonely and unloved. Now she understands he loves her and he is simply responding to his own stuff at work and in their relationship. She no longer feels responsible for him nor does she feel guilty. She is no longer angry. She is accepting this is the way he deals with his stress and she is learning to ask for what she wants.
Accepting him, changing her own thinking and behavior, and asking for what she wants are three methods getting more of the love she has wanted. Give it a try yourself. Control your own thinking and behavior. Accept the other person as he or she is, and focus on getting your needs and desires fulfilled. Take better action to change your feelings. Take action to make the relationship better.
Take Action for Your Growth
If you want to get better at accepting someone else, consider this. Think of a recent situation with your spouse or close friend which upset you. Listen to your “story” of what they did wrong. Now say to yourself, “Stop!” Recount with your understanding and acceptance the way the other person thinks and behaves. Think a different interpretation. Accept this as the way he or she thinks and behaves. Think through what positive things they bring to the table. And add the positive things they did in this situation. Think of ways you can do something better in this and future similar situations. As Bill O’Hanlon says, “Do one thing different.”
As you accept your spouse, you are changing your critical story to a positive and accepting story. You might find yourself feeling good, smiling and being happier. You are demonstrating excellence in taking responsibility for yourself and accepting and loving your spouse. You and your relationship will experience much more happiness and contentment by your changing how you handle your thinking and behaving.
If you would like my help with this or any relationship issue, please send me an email or call or text me at 702-242- 4222.
“People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.” – Gary Chapman