Friends, nothing affects our ability to have healthy relationships like a negative attitude. My friend Monica Humpal writes a marriage blog called Married People where she helps couples re-engage and rejuvenate their marriages. With her permission, I’m sharing this post on the affects of attitude on our relationships.
By Monica Humpal
“You must have been hungry,” my husband said as I pretty much licked my plate clean. “What do you mean by that?” I ask as my heart races and a million negative responses come to mind and a wave of guilt for eating so much takes over. “Nothing,” he says. “Just that you must have been hungry to eat all of that.”
You may be able to fill in the blanks as to how this conversation continued from here. As a person who has struggled with my weight over the years, I’m, what they call, super sensitive when it comes to comments about how I look, food, how much I’m eating, etc. And, my husband’s comments affect me the most because, well, he’s my husband! In the real-life situation listed above he really did just mean what he said – he was commenting that I must have been hungry as just a statement of fact, not a commentary on my bad eating habits or my weight. But, what I heard was very different . . .
For some reason, when he speaks to me at times, his words flow through this internal filter in my head. For instance, what I heard him say when he commented on my hunger was “you eat too much” and “you’re going to get fat.” That is not what he actually said, but I inferred it based on how I was feeling about myself at the time. None of this is fair to him at all, but it happens so often in my marriage and I bet it happens in yours.
Our outlook on things in life drastically effects how we interpret information that comes our way. When my husband speaks to me, if I have a negative outlook and attitude, I will find some way to see the negative in what he is saying even if he didn’t mean it that way. Oh, and don’t even get me started on emails and texts because we can ALL misread a “tone” in the written word! The truth is that if we simply adjust OUR outlook and attitude, we can get rid of those negative filters and see the good in what our spouse is trying to say to us. Or, in my husband’s case above, see immediately that they are simply making a statement and not to take it personally.
I could go on and on with examples of this, like when my husband DVR’d the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and my first response was hurt because I jumped to the conclusion that he did that because I wasn’t pretty enough for him. Or when he commented that my tires are wearing down quicker than normal and I immediately became defensive that he was somehow criticizing how I drive or that I had something to do with it. Now, this isn’t all the time, but it happens my friends. And, if I look back I can always see that it was MY attitude that was the problem. Now, I check my attitude at the door and think the best about what my husband has to say to me – I just assume he cares and loves me and means no ill will toward me. It really does make all the difference.
Rev. Monica Humpal leads the marriage ministry of Williamson’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Mooresville, NC. She and her husband, Steve, have been married for 20 years and have two teenage kids. Follow Monica’s marriage blog at wcmarriedpeople.wordpress.com.