Overthinking your relationship will increase your feelings of stress and insecurity. This in turn will make it much more likely that you will say or do harmful things to your relationship. The more harmful things you say or do, the more insecurity and stress you will have and so the downward spiral goes. If you learn to get a hold on your mind, you can have the sustained, positive behaviors necessary to improve your relationship.
Be More Secure by Having Realistic Expectations
Unrealistic expectations ignore the evidence. For example, imagine that the past couple of holiday seasons have been difficult because of your spouse’s distant or irritable behavior. Which would be the more realistic expectation for this holiday season: 1) your spouse will be nicer than usual and want to connect with you so that your holidays will be great? or 2) your spouse will continue to be distant and irritable this holiday season? The most realistic expectation is that whatever has been happening will continue to happen and not suddenly be changed simply because of national holidays. Even when you are doing all the right things, your relationship is not going to improve quickly.
Realistic Expectations are Healthier
Having unrealistic expectations can keep you stuck. Because you expect things to be better, you procrastinate on making any changes. The more you procrastinate, the worse things become, until eventually, reality slaps you in the face and you are forced to deal with it. Most of the people I work with could see their relationship getting worse years ago, but expected things to work out alright. Because of that, they failed to work on their relationship and now need professional help to fix a desperately bad situation.
Realistic Expectations Help You Plan Better
If you have realistic expectations, then you can predict how your spouse will behave and takes steps to take care of yourself. For example, if you know that your spouse won’t want to celebrate a holiday with you, then you can make plans for celebrating with a friend or creating a new holiday ritual for yourself. Doing so will prevent you from becoming so upset and will help you to maintain a positive attitude toward your spouse.
Realistic Hope vs. Unrealistic Hope
One of the great thieves of hope is hope itself. Hoping that a relationship that has been bad for a year or more will be fixed in a month or less will make you sorely disappointed and angry. This is because it will take far longer than a month to rebuild necessary trust. Only after that will feelings love gradually start to come back. Hoping in quick fixes will actually make you give up a more realistic hope, which is an ally in reconciling relationships. Another unrealistic hope is that it is possible to repair a seriously damaged relationship without professional help. If what you have been doing is not working or making things worse, it is time to stop hoping you can fix things by yourself and get help.
Be More Secure by Realizing that Your Situation is Temporary
The next month or two of your relationship can reasonably be expected to be pretty much the same as the last month or two. However, if you are working on making positive changes in the way you deal with your spouse, your relationship will change. That means the difficulty you are having now is only temporary. Humans can endure almost anything when we realize that our troubles are temporary. It’s only when we believe our troubles to be permanent that we become pessimistic and hopeless. Just like everything that has gone on before in your life, what is going on now is temporary. What’s more, change does not depend on your spouse doing anything. It only depends on the decisions you make and the actions you take. You have the power to change your life. If you don’t know how, you can learn how.
A Temporary Perspective for All of Life
Having a perspective that everything in our life is temporary–relationships, job, health, attractiveness, and even life, can seem pretty depressing, but actually it puts things in the right perspective to make us more effective. When we realize that even the best of relationships do not last (maximum is 75 years, most much less), that our health will eventually fail, that our beauty will fade, and that our physical abilities will decline, it gives us the reminder that we need to love and enjoy our spouse today, to have the career that we want today, and to do the activities that we want today. When we live our lives as if they will go on indefinitely, we often neglect the things and people that are most important. We don’t need to live in fear of death–particularly if we have come to salvation through Jesus Christ, and we can spend our time loving others and enjoying the life that God has given us.
Be More Secure by Giving Yourself Permission to Be Upset
Are your worried about being worried? Sad about being sad? Mad at yourself for feeling mad at others? If so, then you are just adding fuel to the fire. All of us have feelings of anger, sadness, and worry at times. It is part of being a human being. We can realistically expect that we are going to feel this way sometimes and that others are going to feel that way, too. You aren’t always going to feel like you are in love with your spouse or kids, and they aren’t always going to feel that way about you. That’s okay. Accidents and illnesses are going to happen sometimes, and we are going to mess up many times. Some people in life are going to try to cheat us and yet others are going to treat us better than we deserve. That’s okay, too. That’s all part of what it is to be human and to live on planet earth. Give yourself permission to experience your feelings, to be hurt when cheated or mistreated, and make sure you keep a first aid kit handy. Intolerance of others means expecting them to be better than they actually are. Intolerance of oneself is the same. This intolerance robs us of joy in our relationships and even makes us feel bad about ourselves. Expect others and yourself to behave like humans.
Stop Obsessing, Start Living
Do your best and let God do the rest. See the humanness and frailty of your spouse and others. Don’t expect overnight change and realize how important and short your relationships really are. Get to know God if you haven’t so that you don’t need to live in fear of dying, and can really start living and loving. If you are waking up to your relationship problems soon enough, you may really benefit by having a book on overcoming neediness. If things have become more serious, you may need to have the more intensive approach that you would get from a book. And, if your relationship is now in danger, you will need one on one coaching to make your marriage relationship better. What do you expect will happen to your relationship over the next month, year, and five years? Use those expectations to decide what you should be doing now.