Finding Silver Linings

You know, most developments in our lives can be viewed from different if not utterly divergent perspectives. I was reading snippets the other day from one of Gottman’s book on Divorce ( and a fascinating principle that must broadly apply to other domains of life besides marriage is this notion of a struggle between positive and negative interpretation of events. He argues that well compensated (not financially, though I’m sure that must help) individuals in the marriage dyad tend to view and or incorporate negative data from their partners into a fundamentally positive paradigm — that is, when you’re in a good mood, even things that usually piss you off roll off your back. And the converse is true: irritable partners misconstrue otherwise benign comments as critical if not downright malevolent condemnations. Not to reduce things to the “glass half empty” platitude, but there is something to this — think of it. When you’re feeling well, potentially frightening or uncertain developments can be viewed as opportunities, but when you’re feeling tired, pushed, depressed, or quite anxious, the same development seems like a daunting reification of your worst, catastrophized nightmare.

Gottman counts the positive/negative balance among the many factors he considers when assessing the health of a marriage — does one force from one or both partners skew toward the positive or negative, for how much time, and what is the impact. Internally, I think learning our own moods and their impacts on how we view the world is an important part of recovery and relapse prevention.

At least I feel that way now….