Wednesday, May 23 , 2018, 5:25 am | Overcast 57º


John Daly: How to Cope with — and Conquer — Relationship Negativity

Did you know that, according to The Huffington Post, communication problems came out on top as the No. 1 reason marriages fail?

There’s a lot of advice about how to secure and maintain healthy communication in any relationship. But, I wanted to focus on negativity today. Specifically, three points: stonewalling, negative comments and what I call the “bad mood”syndrome.


According to marriage expert Sherri Stritof, stonewalling in communication — particularly in a marriage relationship — involves delay tactics; refusing to answer questions; doing whatever can be done to obstruct a discussion; or bluntly refusing to cooperate with a partner.

Examples might be a husband who watches sports on TV all weekend instead of spending time with his family, or a wife who is so much of a shopaholic that she spends the time she should be with her husband out looking for bargains.

I don’t know about you, but that would effectively drive me away and create feelings of rejection.

Stritof says that stonewalling can kill a marriage. Here’s a great article by Cathy Meyer about what to do when you find yourself in a stonewalled relationship.

Negative Comments

Unfortunately, we often sabotage our relationships with negative comments. A husband will come home and ask his homemaker wife, “What did you do all day around here?”

Think about that for a moment. Really puts the wife on the defensive, doesn’t it?

According to Stritof, other negative words include:

» What is your problem?

» Give me a break.

» Why didn’t you ... ?

» It’s all your fault!

» I told you ...

» You’re just like your mother/father.

» Why is it always my fault?

» You never ...

» You don’t love me anymore.

» Is dinner ready yet?

» You don’t listen.

» My way is the only way.

» I’m tired.

» Forget it.

» I don’t care.

It’s essential to replace those negative words with positive ones, like, I love you, thank you, great job, you look super, I’ll help; thanks for being you; I need your help; life with you is a joy.

According to John Gottman, negativity can come in the form of cynicism, criticism, whining, attacking, pessimism, discontent, perfectionism and hyperintensity. All these behaviors can push people away.

Such things as eating healthier, being more accepting, getting enough sleep, being willing to forgive both yourself and your significant other, exercise and doing things that make you feel good about yourself will help cure negativity, with a little conscious effort.

Bad Mood Syndrome

Being in a bad mood involves dwelling on negative thoughts and memories; being critical of others in your life, as well as having a negative perspective of incidents and events.

Do you consider yourself a “No” rather than a “Yes” person? Would you say you are a perfectionist?

If you nodded your head “Yes” to these characteristics, then you might consider that your negativity could be detrimental to your relationships.

Again, if you are coming from a negative viewpoint, consider changing some of your habits as listed above. It could make a difference.

But what if you are in a relationship with a negative personality? You can’t force better behavior or force your significant other to be positive. The first thing to realize is that you should never take another person’s negativity personally. It’s that person’s problem, not yours.

Offer to talk about the issue and then follow it up with an honest willingness to help. Sometimes taking a walk to discuss issues in a relationship is a good way to start.

If your spouse rejects your offers of help, don’t overreact. In that case, what you can do is compliment your partner’s positive accomplishments and encourage him or her to try new experiences. Keep trying to put everything in a positive light.

However, don’t ever be afraid to say “enough” when your mate gets negative and change the topic to something more positive. You need to spend time with positive people and take time off from the negativity of your relationship.

Finally, always be open to seeking professional help.

John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the keys to life skills success. Click to learn more about The Key Class, or click here to buy his book. John’s new book, 74 Skills for a Happy, Successful Life, is currently available in digital format on Amazon. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook and follow John on Twitter @johnjdalyjr. Do you have a question about business or social etiquette? Ask John at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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