Does this ever happen to you? Your husband comes home from golfing with his friends and is eager to share how great his golf game was. You can feel your mood turn sour as he chats away. You just can’t stand him taking off all morning on a weekend to golf for 4+ hours when you get stuck with the kids or house chores. You might want to glare at him, interrupt his story, or just brush him off and not even look up from your phone. The thing is, the way we react to our loved one’s positive news can greatly impact our relationship, both in that moment and in the long run.
When something good happens to your partner, it’s a terrific opportunity to strengthen your relationship. According to research by psychologist Dr. Shelly Gable, the way we respond to our partners’ victories can have a huge impact on our relationship and may actually be the most important factor in expanding our bond with them.
Three Common, Yet Destructive Ways People Respond to One Another:
The passive constructive approach is when you don’t give your attention when your partner tells us about some sort of achievement. If you are distracted or unengaged in the conversation it will convey the message to your partner that you aren’t interested. Essentially, this behavior is a conversation killer, causing the other party to feel ignored. This can put a huge strain on the relationship because it is unsupportive during a moment they consider to be important.
One may react in an active destructive way, which involve us pointing out all the negatives to the good news. This approach sucks the excitement out of the moment and drains your partner of their positive emotions. Often, the end of the conversation turns to worry because all of the negatives overshadow the positives.
There is also a passive destructive mode where one acts as a conversation hijacker. This happens when one changes the conversation to something else or makes it all about them. This can happen when your partner’s good news reminds you of your own experience or it sparks jealousy that causes one to compete with one’s own story. Sometimes people simply get caught up and forget to focus on the other person. Whatever the reason, this type of reaction can be quite harmful to the relationship, especially if it happens often.
So How Should You Be Responding? An active constructive response is the only effective way to build a relationship. It involves giving your complete attention to the other person and looking them in the eye. You should be engaged, listen intently, and react by mirroring their behavior. Ask questions and become part of their excitement. This will strengthen your relationships because sharing in others’ joy can even multiply the joy. People feel happier and more connected by enjoying positive experiences together. This can have a huge impact on whether your relationship wins out in the end.
Sandi Schwartz is a freelance writer/blogger and mother of two. She has written extensively about parenting, wellness, and environmental issues. You can find her at www.happysciencemom.com. Get her free course on raising happy, balanced kids at bit.ly/2i53TDV.