I often ask couples this question – when both parties are unhappy and stressed out – and I get some surprising responses. Typically, however, both have confused looks and are at a loss for words. And then we go a bit deeper along the lines of “You’re both attractive people but what qualities beyond the physical attracted you to each other?”

So what attracted you to your partner? Pretty face, great body, great sex, good job, lots of money? Frankly, those are pretty shallow. How about amazing personality, funny, smart, empathetic, caring, loving, energetic, friendly? Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. That list of positives can and should go on quite a bit further, and hopefully it does.

What happens though when your relationship hits a snag? Do you focus on those amazing qualities you’ve always loved and admired in your partner or do you focus on the negatives? Be truthful and honest with yourself here. Most people focus on the negatives and that’s a trap. We’ve been taught since childhood to focus on the negatives – we got it from our parents, from school, other kids, church, friends, etc. Where did your parents get it? Same places. Its pretty common. And again, it’s a trap. We focus on the negatives in others and we often focus on the negatives in ourselves. And the more we’re looking guess what we find? Confirmation and yet more negatives.

Want to turn it around? Takes some practice but start to focus on the positives, see past the negatives. Sure, everyone has negatives, weaknesses, things that annoy us to no end. But we also have some pretty amazing positive qualities. Give your partner credit for the positives they’ve always had and do it on a regular basis.

So why did you choose your partner? Compliment your partner for the positive qualities you’ve always admired and loved, as well as the new ones you recognize now. Its not just “I love you.” It should be “I love you because _________.” What words do you add to fill in the blank?

Do this on a regular basis, heartfelt compliments to your partner about the positives they have, and you might just discover the partner you have is actually pretty darn good.