Maintaining a “Yes” Attitude in Your Relationship

Relationship Help Quick Tip For Couples

When was the last time you said “yes” to your spouse/partner?

I don’t mean “yes” as in: “Yeah, I’ll take out the garbage” or “Sure, a movie this weekend sounds great.”

“Yes” and “no” are more than just words having to do with activities—for many couples these two simple words end up representing a deeper truth about their relationship—a deeper truth about how we feel and relate to ourselves and our spouse/partner.

“Yes” and “no” can come to reflect a pervasive attitude held about one another and the relationship—an attitudinal doorway that, when open, allows us to fully give of ourselves and accept what our partner has to offer; or, inversely, when this door is closed, the pathway to meaningful connection is obstructed.

Some couples try to consciously maintain a philosophy of “yes” when it comes to their marriage/relationship. They set their default position to emotional availability and openness whenever possible because they realize that in love there is no difference between giving and receiving. With an attitude of “yes” we simultaneously feed ourselves, our partner and the relationship. Feeling uncomfortable or “put out” when pushed or challenged for the betterment of the relationship is never seen as a good excuse to withhold or shift to a “no” attitude. 

Relationship Help: What Does It Mean to Say “Yes”?

When you say “yes” to your partner and the relationship, in essence you are saying “yes” to:

  • Compromising about the practical management issues that come along with domesticity;
  • Emotional transparency and honesty (not hiding behind pretense, superficial niceties or secrecy);
  • A shared respect, even when frustrated and/or angry with one another;
  • A heightened sense of responsibility for each other’s emotional well-being;
  • A mutual dedication to work on the marriage/relationship when needed;
  • Challenging yourself and growing as an individual as well as a couple. 

But for many couples, “no” has become the relationship default setting—an almost automated response to one another. When this occurs, requests for better communication, an increase in time spent together and/or shared activities, and greater emotional or physical intimacy are met with resistance and a closed heart.

It’s also possible to maintain a superficial “yes” veneer while remaining emotionally closed off at a deeper level (an underlying “no” attitude). When this occurs, an energy of reluctance and tenseness permeates the relationship. This anti-openness stance may act as a protective shield to avoid anticipated emotional pain and/or it may function to keep you comfortably in the status quo of your relationship.

This stance keeps your partner shut out and ultimately keeps the relationship stuck in neutral rather than moving forward.

What do you and your partner need from one another to keep a deeply held “yes” attitude alive and well in your marriage/relationship?

Wishing your relationship the best!

Dr. Rich Nicastro

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