When you look at your spouse, what do you see? Do you see the messes they make and haven’t bothered yet to clean up? Or do you see the tender way in which they take care of your children? Do you let the clothes on the floor get the best of you, or appreciate the hard work they put in every day to make a living and a life together possible? 

Do you let the imperfections that become visible with familiarity and age bother you, or think instead of the wonderful memories you’ve collected from years of sharing a life together? 

I confess I chose to focus on my wife’s faults and small imperfections at times. As I reflect on those times, I let those small irritants become magnified and exaggerated. I wasn’t looking for the good qualities of my wife. I was instead focusing on a small single imperfection like a magnifying glass to the exclusion of her many other virtues. 

Our brains have a remarkable ability to focus on one detail at a time. Our eyes also have that remarkable ability: although the human eye’s 150 million light-sensitive cells can see detail at an incredibly high resolution, it’s only in the center of the eye that can take in detail. What you choose to look at and focus on matters from a biological and relationship perspective.

What you decide to look at and focus on can make or break a marriage. Marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman explained that no matter how much trouble a marriage is in, it can be saved if individuals in the relationship choose to look at their partner with fondness and admiration.

I’m not saying we should all turn a blind eye to the faults and weaknesses of others. We still need to exercise good judgment and make wise decisions in our relationships. How would your marriage be different if you used more of your brain’s emotional processing power on the good & the beautiful rather than the critical & the ugly?

Have you ever made a list of 20 qualities of your spouse you find attractive? Making a list of things you like about him or her will help you cultivate fondness and admiration for each other. There’s an app for that — the Get Your Marriage On! App has a free tool just for this purpose.

Today’s Challenge: Look your lover in the eyes today and make the decision to see the best in them. For bonus points, write them down and share your list with them!