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Signs of Negativity How to Deal With a Negative Spouse

It can be very hard to deal with a negative spouse. Negativity in marriage can come in the form of cynicism, criticism, whining, attacking, pessimism, discontent, perfectionism, and hyper-intensity. Coping with these behaviours and attitudes is a serious challenge.

There are several reasons why someone might be negative in a relationship. Fortunately, there are ways to help or cope with a negative spouse.

To deal with a negative spouse, you can:

  • Practice empathy

  • Be forgiving

  • Set boundaries

  • Engage in self-care

  • Seek social support outside of your spouse

In some cases, negativity can ruin a relationship—but it doesn't always need to. With some honest communication and genuine effort, relationship dynamics can shift from negative to positive.

This article discusses the signs of negativity, what causes it, and how it can affect a relationship. It also covers how you can help a negative spouse and how you can care for yourself in this situation.

Signs of Negativity

If you answer yes to most of the following questions, you're likely dealing with negativity that could potentially hurt your relationship.

  • Perfectionist: Are you a perfectionist, or is your partner?

  • Critical: Is one of you critical of everyone in your life? Do you look at incidents and events from a negative perspective?

  • Dismissive: Are you, or is your partner, quick to say "no"? Do you rarely say "yes" to requests from your partner or kids?

  • Moody: Do you find yourself in a bad mood regularly? Does your partner regularly seem to be in a bad mood? Do either of you dwell on bad things or painful memories?

Other traits of negative people include consistently being pessimistic, worrying about things that most people would view as insignificant, and complaining all the time.

However, keep in mind that someone's negativity doesn't have to define them. There may be underlying causes of negativity, and your partner can learn to use more adaptive ways to cope.

Causes of Negativity

There are several different factors that can contribute to negativity in a marriage or romantic partnership.

Negativity Bias

The human brain has a natural tendency to prefer negative information. Negative events tend to garner more attention and have a greater impact on the brain than positive ones.1

In relationships, this negativity bias often causes people to always expect the worst or always be on the defensive. It can also contribute to conflict and resentment.

Mental Health Conditions

In some cases, mental health conditions can cause constant negative thinking. Disorders linked with negative thinking include depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

If your partner's negative thinking is disruptive to their everyday life, they would benefit from talking to a therapist or mental health professional.2

How to Change Negative Thinking

If you are chronically negative, you can change your pattern of negative thinking. However, you have to want to make this change, and no one can do it for you.

Here are some things you can do to be more positive:

  • Avoid negative self-talk.

  • Strive to be more open-minded.

  • Cultivate gratitude.

  • Do something that makes you smile.

  • Eat healthy foods.

  • Exercise.

  • Forgive yourself and your partner.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Help others.

  • Practice mindfulness.

  • Seek professional help.

  • Surround yourself with positive people.

How to Encourage Positivity

If you are in a relationship with someone who has a negative personality, you are not responsible for making them feel better. However, you can help your partner be more positive.

  • Do not take the negativity personally.

  • If your partner rejects your offers of help, don't overreact.

  • Invite your spouse to take a walk or do some fun activity with you at least once a week.

  • Acknowledge your partner's accomplishments.

  • Encourage your partner to try new things.

  • Establish healthy boundaries.


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