Here are three ways to begin building a positive relationship:
Having a love map
Do you and your partner have a love map? Building a love map means asking questions and really getting to know each other's worlds. In the beginning of a relationship, we are great at getting to know our partner and what is important to them. As time goes by, we get more and more involved with children, jobs and other pursuits. We may still ask each other about their day from time to time, but we lose track of what hopes and dreams we have. We forget to build our lives together. We get too busy to talk about what is really important to us.
Having a detailed love map will remind both you how much you love each other, what your goals are together and will help you navigate trying times. It's a lifelong process, but will help you both gain a positive perspective.
Sharing fondness and admiration
Similar to building love maps, it is easy to share fondness and admiration when you are a new couple. But once we have been in a relationship for while, we rarely bring up the reasons why we love our partners. We might write some nice things on a birthday or anniversary card, but that's about it. Cards are nice, but it would be better if weekly (or daily!) we were able to hear something good about us.
I have helped numerous couples discuss why they admire their partner. Although it can be awkward to tell your partner why you are fond of them in front of a therapist, it has proven really beneficial in boosting self-esteem and increasing the overall happiness in a relationship. Openly discussing the positive aspects of your partner lets your relationship be strengthened. Also, knowing how much someone admires you lets you more easily have a positive perspective in life.
Turning towards your partner
Show your spouse that you care about what they are saying and doing. You both got into this relationship to share a life together, so put down distractions and listen. You won't always have the same interests or care about the same things, but it is very important to try to be interested.
Turning towards our partners is as easy as listening when they talk, being interested in what they are saying and responding to what they are talking about. Turning towards your partner builds your emotional bank account. When your emotional bank accounts are full, you have extra cushion when life's stresses and conflicts arise.
When a couple is making an effort in these three aspects of their relationship, they are sure to gain a more positive perspective. This will allow you both to reach fair compromises, see the good in your partner and feel love on a day-to-day basis. If your relationship doesn't feel great, try gaining a positive perspective.