Do we focus on a negative more just because it exists?

Do we focus on a negative more just because it exists? December 14, 2009

I think that much of our sexuality is driven by our thoughts. In my case, I have a much greater interest in/need for sexual intimacy than my spouse. Because of my spouse’s disinterest (or the large disparity between our interests), it feels like this “need” often goes unmet for me.

I think frequently about my desire for a close, intimate relationship with my wife, and I wonder if my perception of an unmet need actually causes me to think about this much more than I would if I perceived that the need was met.

But it becomes unhealthy to think about such things when there is not a viable outlet. It becomes a difficult, downward cycle….

Yes, absolutely. When we are not satisfied with something (whatever that something might be) we tend to think about it much more than we would otherwise. It becomes an area of focus. Call this human nature. There are some pros and cons to this process. After all, if we focus on what we want changed, maybe we will be more likely to find the motivation, perseverance and resources to get the job done. This is many times the case. However, sometimes the reverse can also happen. The more one tries to fix or change something, the more one gets stuck in the same patterns of behavior. And then “self-fulfilling” prophecies become part of the problem. When one expects failure, one is more likely to reap failure. When one expects success, one is more likely to expect success.

The other “human nature” process we are all subject to is that we tend not to keep at the forefront all of the positives that happen every day. For example, if you live in a first-world country -when was the last time you thought about how grateful you are to have a toilet to use daily with its accompanying miracle of modern day plumbing? I assume not lately. However, if your toilet breaks down, your focus very quickly shifts to take care of this pressing problem. It’s very similar to other areas of our lives. Unfortunately, solving relational “break downs” is not as easy as a quick call to a repair person. But there are usually many positives within a marriage that are being overlooked or “taken for granted” by the couple itself. This is true of both “happy” and “unhappy” couples.

I realize I am not offering any new information here, but the main answer goes back to our own personal selves. How do we find ways to focus on the positives that surround us versus the negatives? And although thinking positively will not necessarily solve all of our problems (especially ones that have to do with another person’s behavior), it can help catapult us into a different way of being. And then the possibilities truly are endless – because the recreation of self is truly an endless process.

As far as viable outlets, these are some of many to consider:
  • individual therapy and individual change
  • hopefully marital therapy and marital change
  • fundamental change in the way of communicating (usually takes some risk from at least one party and has more chance of success if overseen by a professional who can objectively point out both positive and negative patterns)
  • remain in the status quo with the same attitude
  • remain in the status quo with a different attitude
  • controlled separation where a couple does a trial run to see if they can re-court one another
  • divorce

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