Negativity and Love Don’t Go Together

One of the most transformative actions is to implement a zero negativity policy in your relationship. Remove all judgments stop criticizing your partner, and watch your tone of voice when you speak. When you stop the discharge of negative energy, the nervous system of the other person eventually relaxes and the energy moves from the sympathetic side of the nervous system, which is the arousal side where you fight and flee, to the parasympathetic side where there’s a sense of rest and calm.

If you’re consistent with your commitment to zero negativity it’s amazing what can happen in a relationship.

If you really love someone, you’ll find a way to ask for what you want or need. For example, instead of getting angry, you can say, “Next time we’re going to meet for dinner and you can’t get there on time, would you give me a call so I don’t worry what happened to you?”

When you bring up a problem in a way that doesn’t land negatively with your partner, it makes it more likely that they will engage with you to problem-solve. If you ask in a negative way, your partner will probably raise his/her voice and say “I’m out of here!!”, and retreat into the lower brain.

If you talk in a way where the lower brain of your partner gets ignited, they can’t help but fight or become more distant, which is why zero negativity is so important.

What happens when your partner slips up –and he or she probably will–and  falls into an old habit of criticizing or getting angry? How do you make up? Well, every couple is imperfect. Should I write that again? Every couple is imperfect, so they’re going to blow it from time to time.

So this is what I suggest: Hold up your hand( a gesture you and your partner have agreed on), and say: “Wait, honey, maybe it’s just me, but could you say that in a different way—a softer way?” Sometimes a hug or an apology can repair a problem.

Other times it’s a little harder and you have to sit down and talk respectfully for 10 or 15 minutes.  You can’t bring this up to your partner and expect them to solve it but you can ask respectfully for what you want and if your partner cares about you, he/she will do their best to  come through for you as best they can with real love and without negativity.

Closing words: You can’t bring something to your partner and expect them to solve it for you. You can ask respectfully for what you want, and if your partner cares about you, they will not be negative and will want to come through for you, as best they can, which may include compromising sometimes, as is often necessary, but nevertheless will strengthen the bond between you. 

Picture of Jim Covington

Jim Covington

Jim Covington (M.Div. MA, LMFT) has been helping couples improve their relationships for more than 30 years. He holds degrees are in psychology and theology, is a licensed New York marriage and family therapist, a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists and has been trained in multiple approaches to marital/couples therapy and family therapy.

He has completed Level 3 Practicum Training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, externship training with the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples and PREP (Prevention & Relationship Enhancement Program), and employs Solution Oriented Brief Therapy as taught by Michelle Weiner-Davis.
Picture of Jim Covington

Jim Covington

Jim Covington (M.Div. MA, LMFT) has been helping couples improve their relationships for more than 30 years. He holds degrees are in psychology and theology, is a licensed New York marriage and family therapist, a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists and has been trained in multiple approaches to marital/couples therapy and family therapy.

He has completed Level 3 Practicum Training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, externship training with the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples and PREP (Prevention & Relationship Enhancement Program), and employs Solution Oriented Brief Therapy as taught by Michelle Weiner-Davis.