When you are having problems in your marriage, it is easy to point out all the things wrong with the relationship. “ He never listens when I tell him about my day.” “She always yells before I have a chance to explain myself.”
We say statements like this regularly within our relationships, but are they completely true? He never listens? Ever? She always yells? Chances are that there are some exceptions to these statements and you can recall at least one time there was an exception. If this is true, you have just taken one step closer to improving your marriage by looking at the exception. Finding the exception can help your marriage in a number of ways.
Exceptions Shrink Problems
It only takes acknowledging one exception to shrink your problems. Allowing yourself to take into account the one time your partner did make the change you requested eliminates the rigid black-and-white thinking associated with these generalizations. You are now able to realize that your problems are not as monumental as you once thought. Emphasizing what has worked opens the possibility to making the situation recur.
Exceptions Demonstrate That People Are Changeable
When an exception is found, suddenly, all those traits in your partner that seemed fixed and unchangeable have the potential for growth. Exceptions demonstrate that there is a way to go forward in changing problems.
Exceptions Supply Solutions
Since recalling exceptions involves describing when something worked out the way you desired, part of the solution to your problem is directly in front of you: the end result. In this way, exceptions supply solutions. You and your partner can devise the best plan to work up to the end result but, by recalling the exception, you can visualize what goal you are working toward.
Focusing on Strengths Strengthens
Focusing on the exceptions can empower you as a couple. You are able to identify that things are not all terrible in the relationship. You are doing things right! By identifying the strengths, you not only change your outlook on the problem at hand but also on the marriage as a whole, creating a more satisfying, positive experience.
So, the next time you are ready to accuse your partner of always or never doing something, think carefully. If you focus on the exception, you could find yourself on your way to a more successful relationship.