Focusing on the Bad

In relationships, it seems sometimes that people only see the bad things and never notice the good ones. I just formed a theory for why this is. (I'll use Adam and Eve to explain, but I don't see any reason that it has to be these genders in particular, just two people.)

When Adam does something good, such as buying flowers or cleaning the bathroom, Eve can thank him, smile, and it's done, off everybody's mind, a small pleasant memory.

When Adam does something bad, such as forgetting to clean the bathroom or burping loudly, but it's not so bad that Eve would feel like raising it as a criticism (fearing that would be creating a bad feeling), Adam may not notice that it was perceived as bad, and Eve will be left with this unfinished matter on her mind, waiting in the back ready to pop up, souring her mood. When enough of these small unfinished matters accumulate, the last straw (just as insignificant as the others) leads to an outburst of criticism, which focuses on all those small bad things left not-dealt-with, and ignores all the small good things that were closed with a thanks and a smile.

I believe this is a natural course of life — we can't really bring up every small bad thing that someone does.

If the partners keep this natural course of things in mind, it could lessen the violence of the outbursts without keeping any pent-up issues waiting to explode later and with more strength.

This should apply in situations other than couple relationships as well (e.g. in a workplace), but it seemed easiest to describe in terms of two people.

It's not likely to be a new insight, but it's new to me. 8-)

Posted at 1357 on Wed, Jan 21, 2009 in category Ideas | TrackBack | Comments feed
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