You've heard about oiling the squeaky wheel? It's often a pretty fair description of how we approach our close relationships, taking the bits we like for granted and dwelling on the bits that don't suit us so well.
Have you ever wondered how different life might be if you spent more time enjoying the good times in relationships and less time chewing over the problems?
When was the last time you told someone about how much you enjoy just chatting with your partner, or how happy your kids make you, or how your parent's concern feels loving, or how much you value your close friends? There will be good things in all those relationships, but the chances are that having a grizzle is more familiar than talking about the ordinary, everyday successes.
It's not about ignoring problems, or blindly hoping they'll go away if you don't notice them. It's about noticing the ways your relationships add to your life. What you pay attention to defines how your life feels to you. If you focus on problems, than that's what you'll be aware of and your life will feel tough.
If you focus on what works, what's going well, you're likely to find that your glass is nearly always half full. You'll probably find life seems pretty good a lot of the time.
You might want to focus on the strengths in relationships, and to build on those strengths. Whether you're thinking about partners, or parents and children, or friends, the more you notice and appreciate the things that work in your relationship, the more the relationship will grow.
Appreciating the aspects of success in your relationship is encouraging. You feel well motivated to keep working for success. Rather than pretending problems don't exist, it may make it more possible to tackle problems together. Instead of focusing on the problem and who is to blame, you can focus on co-operating with each other to invent solutions and try them out.
Relationships don't come with guarantees, and a strengths based approach to relationships isn't a magic formula for happy ever after. It is an attitude that increases your chances of developing the positive qualities in a relationship and of really enjoying the enjoyable parts.
This approach helps to build more resilient relationships. It doesn't mean they will always last, but it does mean that problems tend to stay in proportion. Instead of isolating you from each other, your awareness of good feeling and trust in your relationship isolates the problems.
An appreciative way of seeing your relationships can transform them. So if you want to put more zing into your important relationships focusing on what works might be worth a try.