If you’re a human being and living with your partner, there’s a high likelihood that you’ve come close to killing them a few times since March. In fact, the things that used to only slightly annoy you, might now feel at such epic proportions that divorce (or the slightly less messy smothering your partner in their sleep) may have seemed like a good option after they made heinous mistakes like putting an almost-empty container of milk back in the fridge (and not even writing it on the shopping list) or, gasp, when you had to ask them a second time to take out the dog.
Biological anthropologists have shown that homo sapiens (aka: people) have evolved to a place where we’re driven to mate and share our life with a primary partner, but there’s no way nature thought it would be all day, every day. She never would have went for that!
Today I’m going to be talking about the 2 big reasons your partner is driving you especially crazy right now and my top 3 tips for feeling connected and satisfied instead of frustrated and homicidal.
But Why is it So Hard Right Now, Abby?!
First and foremost is that you’re succumbing to something called the negativity effect. Even when things are going great, the negativity effect is one of the biggest threats to any relationship, so you can imagine how critical it is right now.
Basically, the negativity effect is your brain’s tendency to respond more strongly to negative events and emotions than to positive ones. In the end, the bad stuff is way stronger that the good stuff.
Research has shown that a negative event (like your partner blowing up at you about the Visa bill) has at least three times the impact of a positive event (like when your partner told you that you looked sexy as hell in that shirt).
Top 3 Tips
Tip #1: Give Your Partner the Benefit of the Doubt
Stop blaming your partner for things in the moment. This takes some mindful practices because you have to be able to notice when you want to react to something your partner is doing (or not doing). You’ve got to stop yourself and act, not react.
So, before you decide your partner is a jerk, doesn’t appreciate you, never considers your feelings, is selfish or any other lovely such thought – try instead to give them the benefit of the doubt. What else could be true? Have the most generous interpretation of what they did that you can muster. It’ll help you both in the end.
Tip #2: It’s All About You!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the one in the most pain needs to change first!
Instead of focusing on what your partner is doing, I want you to get curious about what you’re doing.
Tip #3: Focus on Not Screwing Up
Here’s the deal (and this is backed by research!). You get almost no credit for doing more than you promised, for going above and beyond, but you get heavily punished for what you don’t do or follow through on.
In other words, promise less and make sure you deliver on that instead of promising more and falling short.
Resources and links:
John Tierney and Roy Baumeister, The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It