How to Keep Negativity Out of Your Marriage

Angry couple

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Negativity can come in the form of cynicism, criticism, whining, attacking, pessimism, discontent, perfectionism, and hyperintensity. All of these behaviors can push people away, including your spouse.

According to the renowned relationship psychologist and researcher Dr. John Gottman, there is a "magic ratio" for keeping relationships healthy and stable. In an article about Gottman's findings, Kyle Benson writes, "That 'magic ratio' is 5 to 1. This means that for every negative interaction during conflict, a stable and happy marriage has five (or more) positive interactions."

What does that mean for your relationship? Can your marriage survive a high degree of negativity? Can someone overcome a negative outlook on life? These are good questions that many couples are faced with.

Are You Naturally Negative?

If you are concerned that you have a negative personality or lean that way, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you a perfectionist? If someone says, "Good morning," do you wonder what's good about it?
  • Are you critical of everyone in your life? Do you look at incidents and events from a negative perspective?
  • Are you quick to say "no" and rarely say "yes" to requests from your partner or kids?
  • Do you find yourself in a bad mood on a regular basis? Do you dwell on bad things or painful memories?

If you answer yes to most of these questions, your negative personality could have a harmful impact on your relationship.

How to Change Your Negative Thinking Patterns

If you are chronically negative, you can change your pattern of negative thinking. However, you have to want to make this change and no one can do it for you.

Here are some things you can do to be more positive:

How to Help Your Negative Spouse

If you are in a relationship with someone who has a negative personality, you are not responsible for making them feel better. However, here are some things you can do to help your partner be more positive:

  • Do not take the negativity personally.
  • If your partner rejects your offers of help, don't overreact.
  • Spend time with positive people.
  • Invite your spouse to take a walk or do some fun activity with you at least once a week.
  • Acknowledge your partner's accomplishments.
  • Encourage your partner to try new things.
  • Establish healthy boundaries.
  • Seek professional help.

A Word From Verywell

Overall, keep in mind the advice of Dr. Gottman: For every negative create five positives. It can be a challenge at times and no relationship or marriage is perfect. However, having fun, being open to communication, and enjoying each other are some of the keys to a healthy and happy marriage.

Do your best and try to counteract any negativity you experience. You may be surprised at the effect it has on both of you over time.

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Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Research. The Gottman Institute.

  2. Benson K. The Magic Relationship Ratio, According to Science. The Gottman Institute. Published 2017.

  3. The Power of Positive Thinking. John Hopkins Health.

  4. Bloch L, Haase CM, Levenson RW. Emotion regulation predicts marital satisfaction: More than a wives' tale. Emotion. 2014;14(1):130-44. doi:10.1037/a0034272