If you are like most people you truly believe that if you reinforce the behavior you’re looking for, you’re probably going to get more of it. Do you believe that? Somehow we feel its okay to reinforce two populations: small children and dogs. If it works on small children and dogs, do you suppose it works on grown ups? Of course it does! Most people generally hear criticism or they hear nothing. Yet, most of us thrive on being told what we are doing right. Therefore, make a point of increasing the frequency of telling everybody what they’re doing right. You’re at very low risk of doing it too much. So if you’re terrific, that’s terrific. If other people are terrific, tell them!
Do you ever notice you’ll do that? You’ll say things like, “Well, to be quite honest…” or “I’m gonna be honest,” or “Do you want me to be honest?” It’s interesting that when people ask me, “Do you want me to be honest?” I usually answer, “No, it would be out of character for you, it’s really out of order for you to be honest.” They then look at me as if I’m sort of strange. The reality is that what you intend is quite different from how it is received when you announce your honesty. If you say, “to be quite honest, here is my position…” It almost is received in the following way, “What, you’ve been deceitful so far?” My recommendation is if you must say something, say, “frank,” or “candid” or “direct.” Instead of saying “to be quite honest” say “to be quite frank.” You’ll notice that you’ll get more the results you’re looking for without that kind of question.
The Yeah buts… Do you ever notice how people get engaged into that kind of conversation? “Well, I think we ought to do this” “well, yeah but that won’t work.” Do you ever notice that when you “yeah but” on each other you are actually creating more of a conflict because the words “yeah but” are a contraction for a much larger implied phrase. “Yeah, I may or may not have heard what you just said, but now I want to say what I have been rehearsing while you’ve been blabbering.” The reality is that if you want to increase the contest, keep doing the “yeah buts.” On the other hand, I recommend that you change the “yeah buts” to “on the other hand.” When you do that, it is much less of a contest and people are now beginning to listen. So, instead of “yeah but,” do “on the other hand.”
Have you ever noticed that sometimes life turns left when it is supposed to turn right? And if you are like most people you have difficulty reconciling the gap between how you think life should be and how life is. One thing that you can do to help yourself grow up is to remember that life is as it is, instead of how it should be. If you remember life is as it is instead of how it should be then what will happen is that you are going to play the cards that are dealt and you are much more likely to do something rather than just complain about it. So remember, life is as it is instead of how it should be. As a matter of fact, the way it is, is often pretty terrific.
If you want to keep your marriage healthy it is important to remember this acronym: “To-First.” “To-First” stands for the following: Tolerance, Openness, Flexibility, Investment, Respect, Support and Trust. If you can remember these, you’ll think, “To first get my relationship healthy, I have to remember those items.” Tolerance, Openness, Flexibility, Investment, Respect, Support and Trust. When you think of it in those terms, you are more likely to keep it on your radar at which point you are going to improve your marriage’ health.