When Does The New Nyt Fashion Issue Come Out Improve Your Relationship – Notice What is Working

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Improve Your Relationship – Notice What is Working

When our relationships are a bit off, we tend to focus on what is not working in the relationship. This is natural. We notice a problem — we focus on it over and over in an attempt to solve it. The real problem is that when one notices what is wrong, one tends to get ‘more of the same’. Undoubtedly, focusing on the problems in the relationship are bound to lead to more worry, more anxiety and more problems.

It is a bit of a paradox, but the most direct route from a problem, is to notice the solution – that is to notice what is already working in the relationship. In 99% of couple’s relationships, there is always something going right. The trick is to notice what is going well and find ways to encourage more of it. As we get used to our partners and the initial honeymoon phase fades, we naturally begin to notice the foibles and imperfections that naturally exist. But problems develop when couples begin to base opinions about partners on the times that expectations are NOT met.

Comments like, “You never take out the trash!” or “You always leave the kitchen a mess!” are obvious examples of problem-focused comments. They tend to reinforce the very behavior they are intended to change. This is old news to anyone who has ever tried to train a pet or performance animal. The best way to foster change is to notice when the desired change is already happening. It’s worth noting what your partner is doing well. It can lead to serious improvement.

A few years ago there was a New York Times article written by Amy Sutherland called, “What Shamu Taught Me About in a Happy Marriage” nytimes.com/2006/06/25/fashion/25love.html?ei=5087. In the article Sutherland talks about how ‘approximations’ are used to train exotic animals. Trainers provide a reward to the animals only if the animal moves in the intended direction. The animal is ignored if it moves in an unintended direction towards the task. Sutherland compares this experience to her frustration with her husband and his lost keys. But you don’t have to be a professional to make the approximation approach work.

By noticing what your partner does well, you can encourage continuous improvement toward relational goals. You can thank your partner for cleaning the dishes (but choose to ignore mentioning the time they didn’t). You can thank your partner for taking out the trash (but again, don’t mention the times it didn’t happen). You can thank your partner for small acts of thoughtfulness and kindness, but resist commenting on episodes of thoughtlessness (unless it’s in danger or it’s an emergency). Notice what’s working. It works!

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