Not long ago, I was asked a question that surprised me. My answer changed the way I think of relationships, work and life. Maybe it will do the same for you.
The question was, “If you knew what you know today before you married your husband, would you have married him in the first place? I had never asked myself this question before. I only had to think for a few seconds to get the answer.
I thought back to all the reasons I feel in love with my husband in the first place. I’m not sure I have ever said these things out loud before. At least not in a long time. It wasn’t the superficial things like flowers or candy or cards that he gave me on special occasions that made me fall in love with him. Whether I realized it or not at the time, he had the qualities I was looking for in a husband. He is honest and trustworthy. He has integrity. He is hard working and makes sure our family has what we need financially. He makes family and home a high priority in his life. He is interesting. He is funny. I respect him. He lets me be me. Even after all these years, he surprises me. Then I compared this list with the things I don’t like about my husband. I was surprised this list was very short: He does not always tell me what I think he should. He sometimes has a short temper. I realized when I talked about his shortcomings, I was being ridiculous. If he accepted me as I was, why could I not accept him the way he was? I am not him, and he is not me. We are different in many ways. That is partly what makes our relationship work.
What I learned from this experience was that by focusing on the negatives in my relationship with my husband, I was not as happy. How many of us do that with our spouses, our jobs, our other relationships? We constantly talk about what is wrong with them instead of what is right with them. We try to fix what we see as the problems. Maybe we just need to accept what we don’t like and can’t change. If we focus on the positives, we find more happiness and joy.
One of the best ways to do this is to make a list. Not just any list. At the top put two words. Good and bad. Then list what is good about your life under the good column and what is not good under the bad column. You may find that the goods far out way the bads. If you do have an equal number of goods and bads or the bads outweigh the goods, then you have work to do to change your life. Realizing this is the first step to doing something about it.
So next time you find yourself complaining about your spouse, your coworker or your job, ask yourself what made you choose them in the first place? Do those positive reasons outweigh the negatives? Can you accept what you don’t like about them? Consider you probably have some personality traits that that might drive others crazy. Focus on the positives, let others be themselves and not dwell as much on the negatives. If you can, I bet you will find you will be happier.