Sometimes there’s a situation in a relationship where one partner is working hard to be more positive and the other partner is consistently negative.

This can start as a minor annoyance and grow to something catastrophic for a marriage. It’s a relationship dynamic that can be incredibly hard, especially for the one that is working hard on being positive, because they know that negativity can bring them down a hole they just don’t want to travel down.

Here’s the ideal situation:

Check yourself for toxic positivity. What is toxic positivity? “Toxic positivity involves dismissing negative emotions and responding to distress with false reassurances rather than empathy. It comes from feeling uncomfortable with negative emotions. It is often well-intentioned but can cause alienation and a feeling of disconnection.

It is hard to hear negativity. And that makes complete sense. But when you are in a relationship with another person, even when conversation becomes uncomfortable, you’d be surprised that taking the time to empathize and truly sit down to be present with the other – emptying yourself of your own personal agenda and mission to be positive all the time – can have two amazing side effects.

You’re already a hard worker so go for these results…

Side Effect #1: The negative party can finally feel heard and understood and their constant complaints may dissipate and go away. That’s because oftentimes, people just need to feel heard. A lot of times, they are simply repeating what they did as a child when they wanted to feel like they mattered; garnering “negative attention”.

We’ve heard that a lot in parenting or the teaching profession, right? “Make sure you give your kids enough positive attention so they don’t have to resort to getting negative attention.” Sound familiar?

Our partner is also a wounded child because we all are. We all bring our baggage from childhood into our current relationship.

Side Effect #2: Your personal growth just took a giant leap forward! It’s easy to be a growing, enlightened person when you don’t have anyone else challenging you.

That’s why the idea of working on oneself is a lot more attractive than getting help together as a couple.

A yoga retreat?

A meditation retreat?

An individual therapist?

All a lot more exciting sounding than getting marriage counseling 🙂

And yet, taking the time to “deal” with your negative partner outweighs ANY personal growth you could ever try to do. Because in a marriage- the thing your spouse needs the most is going to be the HARDEST thing for you to give. And vice versa.

So when you finally give your partner what they need- a listening ear despite their unattractive behavior- you not only help them but you help yourself.

That’s the beauty of healing relationship work like Imago therapy.

We’d be happy to talk with you further about how to continue your personal growth journey all within the confines of your relationship so that both of you can grow and heal as a result. Schedule a time to talk with us here or fill out the form below.

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Shlomo & Rivka Slatkin

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin is an Imago relationship therapist and certified (master level) Imago workshop presenter with over 20 years of experience hosting couples therapy retreats in-person and online. Contact or