When asked about memorable events or incidents in your life, what types of memories usually come to mind? Have you noticed that we remember negative incidents more than the positive ones? For example, you remember by detail, the time that you were embarrassed in front of your whole class when you slipped and fell and everyone laughed compared to the time when your teacher announced that you got the highest score in a test.
Or from childhood, you remember your big fight with your sister but not the time when she gave you a gift on your birthday. This is because incidents in our lives that have strong emotional aspects tend to be encoded better in our long term memory. When we were embarrassed as children, we felt shame and sadness. When we had a big fight, we felt anger and frustration.
Negative emotions are embedded in our brains more compared to positive emotions that stay in our short term memory, since the emotions aren’t really that strong. This also applies in our romantic relationships. We can remember the time when they lied to us, when they hurt us, but it’s difficult for us to remember the time when they gave us their coat when we were cold, or when they held your hand while awaiting medical results.
Sometimes, when you’re always fighting, all those bad memories come running to your mind, forgetting all the reasons why you’re in the relationship with the person in the first place.
One very simple exercise that the both of you can do is simply writing about each other’s good qualities. You can buy a journal each, and when you have time, or better yet, make time, write the following things:
First, write all the good qualities about your partner. Write down the things that made you fall in love with him/her. Also, write down all the qualities that you find appealing about your partner.
Second, look for a couple whose relationship you think is inferior to yours, and write three reasons why you think your relationship is better than theirs. And lastly, write one negative thing about your partner and why this fault can be a positive one. Like for example, “My partner watches TV for hours everyday after work, but it’s better than him going out and drinking with his buddies.” So write something that may be annoying to you, but look for the positive side to it.
This exercise can help the both of you remember all the positive things that you love about each other. When you write things down, it helps your brain store such information in your long term memory. So the next time you fight, this exercise can help you prevent things from getting too out of hand by making you remember that the person is worth swallowing your pride for.