It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what gets on our nerves about our partner. It’s inevitable that we start to take our partner for granted too and lose sight of all the good things about them and the reason we fell in love with them in the first place.
Here’s the thing, the way to keeping your relationship positive and to keep feeling good about your partner, is not to change them. It’s to change the way you think about them (unless their behaviour is damaging or abusive in any way, in which case it’s obviously not a good relationship to stay in).
What I mean is, don’t try and change them. We are all human. We all have weaknesses. There will be always things that get on your nerves. The secret is to really understand their strengths and focus on those.
Is your partner funny, supportive, practical, reliable? If so, focus on those. So what if he or she occasionally is blunt or forgetful.
Understanding another person’s strengths can help any relationship to thrive in a number of ways:
- It makes us appreciate the other person and avoid incorrect assumptions about them. This is especially true if the person has a strength that we didn’t see as a strength or that we might have found annoying! For example if someone has a strength in being productive and lives his life by lists he gets lots done because he tears through his lists of things to do with great relish. If his wife doesn’t have this strength it might cause problems at weekends because she feels he prefers doing tasks to just spending time with her and their children. Having learnt about each other strengths she not only appreciates the fact that she does lots for her because he puts the jobs she wants him to do in his list. But she might also discover that she can get him to put activities with her and the kids on his list, which means they get done, and that meets her needs too!
- It means we’re less judgmental. It’s easy to get frustrated with people when you don’t focus on their strengths. You might find yourself focusing on what they can’t do instead of what they do very well.
- It means you can work better as a team. When we’re in any kind of relationship with someone, having different strengths means you can help and support each other by ‘filling in’ for each other. For example, if one of you is very detailed and the other notices the big picture that adds richness to discussions and makes for better decision making.
- It can make you appreciate yourself more. If you have strengths that others don’t they may rely on you to contribute those strengths and that can make you feel good about yourself and the contribution you make and make you feel valued.
So all in all a win-win and an easy thing to implement.
By Sally Bibb, a leading consultant in the strengths movement, founder and director at Engaging Minds, author of The Strength Book