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Marriage; let's set the mood

We can't read each other's minds
We can't read each other's minds
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Ok couples, how many times have you snapped at your spouse because of the mood, our should I say “tude”, your in. You know that it’s ok to share your feelings with your spouse before you bite their head off. Giving him or her, a heads up that you’re feeling twisted just may save you both some grief. It is amazing at how well your day can be going and your spouse chooses the exact moment that you stub your toe to ask, what’s for dinner?

You know that your answer is not going to be the most pleasant. And guess what, that attitude you lashed out with sets the tone for the next hour or two, or maybe even the rest of the evening. He just thinks he asked about dinner, you may think about how inconsiderate he is for not feeling your pain. After all he should have known you stubbed you toe 15 seconds before he walked in.

Attitude is everything, attitude sets the mood. Frank Gunzburg, Ph.D. says this “How you think about your spouse, and what you think about your spouse, will determine your feelings and actions.” And “If you expect your spouse to be dissatisfied with you or to be nasty to you then you are going to prepare an "appropriate" response in advance, even when that might not have been your intention.”

This is just a theory, but could those be moments you’re feeling irritable and can’t put your finger on why? I know some of you have said to your spouse “things were fine until you walked in” maybe at a very low level of awareness you expecting some attitude from your spouse. This could be the answer to that infamous question no one seems to know the answer to, “why are you so defensive?”

That is just some food for thought. Your attitude is everything in your marriage. If you are expecting and anticipating that your spouse is going to be complaining, that is what you are going to hear more of. Since you are expecting it, it will be what stands out most when your husband or wife speaks to you. There it is, that’s why we are “so defensive.” Your anticipation of receiving attitude creates attitude and defensiveness to manifest within you.

Wow! World’s problems solved…probably not. When you think negative thoughts or expect negative responses, you develop a negative attitude. Attitude is what you get after you develop a style of thinking (positive or negative) and then practice it so well that it seems like you don't even have to think it out before you respond. Having an attitude is like pre-thinking your next response.

When people have well-established attitudes about certain things, they also have evaluative summaries of that thing/situation (e.g., how much they like it or dislike it), which makes it easier to decide what to do, and are therefore very likely to guide behavior directly. Which means that your attitude will motivate your next move, will you be nice or not be nice?

Attitudes can be bias or even change people's perceptions of given scenario, because they focus attention on some particular characteristics of a situation (and away from others) that are consistent with those attitudes (e.g., a favorable attitude makes positive qualities salient; a negative attitude makes negative attributes salient). People often don't see that behaviors have changed because of their attitudes.

This bias process increases the likelihood that people's behavior will be consistent with their attitude in a straightforward way, people respond to experiences most salient to them, and behave in attitude-consistent ways. Whether or not the motivation and opportunity to engage in thinking are present determines whether attitudes will affect behavior in a direct way, or with considerable thought.

When consideration is not possible (being reactionary), or choices are not important (not caring about the consequences), behavior will follow on directly from how a person or behavior is viewed. We tend to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intensions. That’s no way to set the mood in your marriage.

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