The Noose of Negativity
Negativity is the 2nd WORST thing that you can do to harm your relationship (More on #1 here). Indulge in negativity and you are putting a noose around your relationship’s neck!
It’s not the big things that bring a relationship down, rather, it’s the day-to-day dynamic between you and your beloved that will determine the success of your relationship.
In a nutshell, avoiding negativity, at all costs, is one of the highest leverage behaviors that will boost your chances of not just STAYING together, but also LOVING being together too!
What IS Negativity, REALLY?
So what IS negativity, REALLY? And how DO you avoid it?
Relationship experts (and a couple themselves for over 30 years), Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt describe negativity as complaining, blaming or shaming your beloved in their fantastic book “Making Marriage Simple.”
Negativity = Blaming, Shaming & Complaining
Get REAL – We Get Hangry!
Never blaming, shaming or complaining is GREAT relationship advice, but let’s get REAL – we’re only human!
We get stressed, hungry, tired, overwhelmed and sometimes, we slip into REACTION mode and the negativity slips out. Haven’t you ever been HANGRY (angry because you’re so hungry)?
Now if one of you is solid, grounded and can hold the bucket, so to speak, while you let out your “emotional vomit,” great.
Be grateful for that tremendous skill your beloved is gifting to you and do all you can to NOT draw on that kindness too often.
Yet if your beloved is NOT in such a place and has their OWN reaction to your understandable, yet unhealthy negativity, then the reaction ping-pong begins.
This can quickly lead to a devolving mess.
Go On A Drama-Free Diet
So what DO you do when the negativity starts to creep in?
Go on a “Drama-Free Diet!”
Raj and I like to play “Games.” We turn our challenges into games in order to make moving past our relationship hurdles more fun.
The Drama-Free-Diet is a game we play to ensure that, not only negativity doesn’t get it’s grubby grip on our relationship, but that every instance of upset is actually translated into an opportunity for intimacy so we end up CLOSER, not more separate, even on difficult days. ESPECIALLY on difficult days!
Turn Your Challenges Into Games
The Drama-Free-Diet Game is all about making an agreement to refrain from any negativity (being “blamey-shamey-complainy”).
It might be just for an hour, maybe a week, a month or go for the gold and say forever! It’s YOUR Game to play so you two can pick a period of time that works for you.
The Magic Ratio
Now WHEN you DO go there, (because as we already covered, we’re human, we get cranky, and you can be sure you WILL blame, shame or complain at SOME point), just don’t get stuck there.
To pop out of the temporary insanity Raj and I turn to another relationship researcher, John Gottman and his “Magic Ratio.”
This is because being “blamey-shamey-complainy” with your #1 fan, your beloved, your partner in life, IS crazy – they’re your greatest ally!
The Magic Ratio says that healthy, happy relationships have AT LEAST a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions.
5 to 1 Positive To Negative Experiences
The Full Five
So Raj and I decided that anytime we caught ourselves or each other being negative, we would call out “Oh that was a bit blamey-shamey-complainy,” and apply the Magic Ratio by saying 5 positive & loving compliments or acknowledgments about the VERY thing we just said something negative about.
When you say the first 1-2 acknowledgments, your beloved will begin to soften, yet likely with some remaining tension, hurt or separateness.
By the third, they’re usually back to where they were before the negativity started.
And when you go as far as to say the 4th or 5th acknowledgment, inevitably you end up with MORE intimacy than before the negativity even started, moving BEYOND repairing damage and moving well into intimacy and connection.
Move BEYOND Repairing Damage & Into Building Intimacy
Specific & Concrete
Identifying what negativity is SPECIFICALLY (thanks Harville and Helen!) AND having something CONCRETE and HABITUAL to do when negativity inevitably surfaces (thanks John!), means the difference between a tough day turning into tornado argument or it being not only tamed, but transformed into greater intimacy and joy.
You can check out our past blog articles on the topic of Fights Clean by clicking here!
Let’s play passion!
Your Partners in a P3 Relationship,