How to never be Angry again | Abraham Twerski
How to Avoid Harboring Negative Thoughts About Your Husband
Staying positive in your marriage is important. No one can avoid all negative thoughts; however, harboring fewer negative thoughts about your husband can make your marriage happier. Start rekindling your relationship by spending time with your spouse. Adopt a positive mindset and refuse to dwell on negative possibilities. You can also talk about your concerns with a close friend or a trained counselor.
Challenging Negative Thoughts
Avoid framing the future in a negative way.Recognize that your current thoughts about your husband do not necessarily mean that the future will turn out badly. The future is uncertain and unknowable. Instead of looking for future pitfalls, think about what you can do now to improve your life with your spouse.
- For example, instead of thinking, “We will always be broke because he doesn’t make enough,” you might look for ways to add a bit of income yourself.
Avoid comparing your husband to other men.Everyone does this to some extent, but it can get to be unhealthy if it occurs too frequently or if you dwell on it. These types of comparisons are not productive and take energy away from the relationship that you are currently in. Instead, think about how others may perceive your husband as desirable. What traits does he project that are admirable?
- For example, does your husband smile all the time? Would other people consider him to be a nice person? Does he take great pride in his appearance, but not to the extent of being vain?
Laugh with your husband!Look for moments that are funny and cut loose a bit. If you just can’t seem to find something humorous, create a situation in which you both will be forced to lighten up. Go to comedy club or watch a funny movie. It’s hard to be negative when you are busy bonding over something funny or interesting.
- Be willing to laugh at yourself. And, when the situation warrants it, laugh at your husband as well. Humor is a great way to break the ice if you need to talk about something more serious too.
Consider the personality traits of your partner.Remember that, first and foremost, your husband is human. He is going to have faults, as we all do. Avoid trying to make him perfect. Look for what is unique and exciting about his personality as an individual.
- Think about those moments when your husband behaved in a way that was uniquely suited to his personality and why you appreciated him in that moment. Do you admire the fact that he volunteers at the local food bank? Is that because he is a caring person?
Refrain from “always or never” thinking.If you find yourself heading into absolutes, visualize a stop sign and pause your thinking. Try to consider how your thoughts should actually be more complex in order to be accurate. For example, instead of thinking, “My husband never makes me laugh anymore,” you might consider, “How often do I laugh now anyway?”
- Watch for words that signal exaggerations such as “always” or “never.”
Stop replaying the past.If you’ve been together for some time it is quite possible that you’ve identified some things that you wish your husband did differently in the past. Make your best effort to offer forgiveness for past transgressions in order to move forward in a healthy way.
- If you are worried about the past repeating itself, decide what your personal boundaries will be for the future. For example, if you resent the fact that you've never taken a vacation with your husband, now may be the time to plan a trip.
Make a positive thoughts jar.Get a mason jar and some small scraps of paper. On each piece of paper write down a positive thought about your husband. Fold each scrap in half and place it in the jar. Every time that you feel negative, go to the jar and pick out at least one piece of paper. Read it and then place it back in the jar, along with at least one more positive thought.
- This is a more active version of making a list. It will push you to recognize all of your husband’s small and large positive actions. For example, “I appreciate the fact that Michael takes out the trash every day.”
- Another version of this activity is to write down all of your negative thoughts on pieces of paper and toss them away. This reflects you letting go of the negativity and embracing a positive future.
Reconnecting with Your Husband
Flip through your old photos.Pull out your albums and look through them. Focus on the emotions captured in the photos. Connect these emotions back to the choices made by you or your husband. You will find that your photos often depict positive moments that you created with your spouse.
- For example, your wedding photos might remind you of how happy you were before the ceremony. Or, you might see a photo of you and your husband laughing as you drove away at the end of the night. Acknowledging the past can help you look forward to the future.
Initiate frequent physical contact.If you are feeling negative, you may avoid being physically close to your husband. Try to reach out in small ways. Give him a quick hug or a small kiss on the cheek. Reach out and squeeze his hand. The goal is to get back to a state where you enjoy physical contact.
Go out on a date.It is tempting to get so caught up in day-to-day life that you rarely plan anything ‘special’ with your spouse. Rekindle the affection in your relationship by setting up a date night each week. Let those close to you know that this is your time to go out.
- Reserving the time and making it a priority is just as important as the date itself. Don’t worry too much about the details of what you will do. When you are out, try to focus on what you are enjoying about your husband and the date.
Learn to do something new together.Challenges help people bond and tackling a new task will help you once again view your husband as a partner. Enroll in a cooking class. Take a course on ballroom dancing. Study together at home in order to learn a new language. You are building positive memories with each action.
- Try to find an activity that interests you both and neither one of you have much experience doing. It is best if you both start off as beginners so you don’t fall into a teacher/student situation and instead work together as equals.
Spend time alone together.Reserve at least 15 minutes each day for one-on-one interaction with your husband. Take a bubble bath together, listen to music, or just sit on the couch and talk. Some couples find it especially helpful to wind down each day by ‘pillow talking’ about what happened and what tomorrow looks like.
- Put away your electronic devices and silence your cell phone during these times. This will let you focus your attention on your husband and he will, hopefully, return the favor for you.
Identify stress in your life.If you are feeling stressed out in other areas of your life, it can be very easy to become irritable and take this out on your partner. Taking some time to check in with yourself and evaluate your stress levels and the source of your stress (which may or may not have to do with your husband) can help you have more positive interactions with your partner and you can take steps to change or deal with whatever is causing you stress. Stressors may be internal or external. Some things that may be causing you stress include:
- Major life changes (change of job, moving, pregnancy, death of a loved one)
- Workplace stress (an overly demanding job, upcoming deadlines, a difficult boss or coworkers, a toxic work environment)
- Social stress (issues with friends or not having social support)
- Fears, insecurities, or feelings of uncertainty or lack of control
- Lack of balance (having too much on your plate, doing a disproportionate amount of the housework)
Learn healthy ways to deal with stress.There are many constructive ways to manage and minimize stress one you have identified the cause. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to deal with stress. It releases endorphins and boosts mood while improving your physical health. Try to incorporate 30 minutes of physical activity into your daily life (you can break it up into 10- or 20-minute segments to make it more convenient). Try dancing, taking the dog for a long walk, jogging, taking the stairs instead of an elevator, playing a game with your kids (like soccer), or taking an exercise class at the gym.Other ways to positively manage stress include:
- Spending time with your friends/support network
- Writing in a journal
- Taking a bath
Ask for help when you need it.You may find that you are stressed or feel resentful toward your husband because you feel like there is an uneven balance in your responsibilities. Learn to be assertive and respectfully ask for help when you need it.
Eliminate stress when possible.One way to reduce stress in your life is to cut out things that cause you stress or to stop overextending yourself. Learning to say "No" to things when you have reached your limits for what you can take on can have a major impact on your stress levels. Look at your commitments and ask yourself what things you "must" do and wha things you feel you "should" do. Try to cut out some of the "shoulds" to avoid taking on too much.
- Consider if your environment is stressing you out. If the news is making you anxious and stressed, turn it off.
- Try to avoid people who stress you out. If you have friends, acquaintances, co-workers, or family members who cause you to feel stressed, limit your time around them as much as possible, or end the relationship. If it's someone you can't complete avoid, minimize your interactions as much as possible. For instance, if you have an annoying coworker who stops by your desk, you can say, "Excuse me, I need to use the bathroom," or "I'm in the middle of a project, I can't talk right now."
Take an honest look at yourself.You need to consider the true sources of your negative thoughts — are they really just about your husband or something/someone else? For example, do you have a tendency to view things in a negative light anyway? It might be helpful to consider exactly what you want out of marriage and out of your husband in particular.
- Write down a list of qualities that you require from your partner. Then, see how many of those traits you possess. For example, if you listed "funny" but you haven't been laughing lately, you may need to work to rediscover your own sense of humor.
Developing Positive Communication Skills
Keep communication open with your partner.Even when you are experiencing negative thoughts, try to start up a conversation with your husband. Begin by discussing trivial matters like the day’s plans, etc. Keeping the conversation lines open will allow you to develop additional trust in your husband.
- In addition to the small things, make sure that you talk about important matters such as finances. Being the sole financial planner in a relationship can foster resentment. To begin a conversation, you might say, “Tonight after dinner let’s talk about what our bills look like for the next month.”
- If you feel yourself about to say something negative and potentially harmful, count to five in your head. This will usually give you time to cool down.
Ask questions.Misinterpretation and miscommunication is a problem in many marriages. It is possible that some of your negative feelings stem from communication errors between you and your husband. Make sure to ask what your husband means if you are unclear. Don’t just assume the worst.
- You might say, “I’m not sure what you mean. Explain it a bit more.” Ask how he feels and what he thinks about various scenarios. Tell him how you feel/what you think.
Say thank you.Practice gratitude on a daily basis. Make a point to say “thank you” at least once a day to your husband. If you recognize his efforts, he will start to appreciate you more as well. Express gratitude for even the little moments. If he helps you find a book you were looking for, say “thank you.”
Confide in a trusted friend.Go to someone you trust and who will keep private whatever you tell them. Explain your negative feelings, giving specific examples. Discuss possible solutions and ways to improve your situation. You may find that your situation is not all that unusual.
- Try to be specific about the issues if you can. Instead of just saying, “We don’t get along,” you might explain, “We don’t go out and do things together like we used to.” Your friend might suggest more outings as a possible solution.
Talk to a marriage counselor.Going to see a counselor by yourself or with your husband is a great option if you need a safe space to discuss your feelings or need an unbiased party to mediate discussions. Find a marriage counselor in your area by searching online for “marriage counseling.” Read online reviews to find the best fit for you.
- Counseling is particularly helpful if you and your husband experienced a traumatic event. A counselor can help you move forward from the blaming process.
- Remember that marriage is for the long-term. Some have described it as a “marathon.” Any efforts that you make to move away from negativity will take time, so be patient.
- If your negative feelings extend beyond your husband or seem to impact your whole life, you may be suffering from depression. If this is the case, talk to a medical professional for assistance.
- If your negative feelings are the result of abuse by your husband, seek out help via an online group or talk to a therapist or your family doctor. Abuse in any form is not okay.
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