In fairy tales, lasting love just happens. But in the real world, the key to happiness resides in building healthy long-term habits. More specifically, consider this: When we actively seek out strengths in one another rather than focusing on weaknesses, we continue growing both individually and together.
In the beginning of a relationship, this idea seems easy. Naturally curious to find out what makes our partner tick, we ask many questions as evidenced by marathon conversations that last into the wee hours of the night. We are intrigued by our partner and find his or her stark differences fascinating. We want to know everything about them.
Unfortunately, the honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever. All too often, it’s only a matter of time before we fall into a rut: We stop asking questions, assuming we know all there is to know about our partner. This habit is detrimental to a relationship, causing it to stagnate. Soon enough, we start perceiving the differences that initially intrigued us as deficits.
For example, say you initially loved your partner’s deliberate, analytical way of thinking because it helped you organize your own unwieldy thoughts and helped you make logical decisions. But now, you see her as defiantly dragging her feet with every decision to intentionally exasperate you. Or perhaps you found his high energy refreshing, as it motivated you to try new activities and get your ideas out the door. But now it seems like he’s purposely trying to irritate you by speeding up the pace on every important project you tackle together.
At this point in a relationship, we are at an important crossroads. If we continue to go down this path, our relationship will likely not survive. However, if we shift our thinking and see our partner through a lens of strengths, we increase the chances of our relationship not only surviving but thriving.