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Upset with Your Mate? Look Elsewhere

Know that joke about looking under the street lamp for keys you dropped elsewhere, because the light is better? One of the great things I learned by helping with the research into character strengths and well-being is where else to look when I am not seeing my husband's strengths.

Let me share a few with you. Upset with shortcomings in modesty or authenticity? Look for how much optimism, energy, and enthusiasm for life your mate brings you.

Distressed by a lack of creativity or curiosity? Look for fairness and leadership in your husband or wife and how they enhance your life.

Wishing your guy or gal were more generous or nurturing? He or she might excel at learning or perspective and be a great help to you in solving problems or tackling new projects.

Distressed because your spouse does not share your awe and elevation in encountering nature or worshiping God? You might want to look at his or her ability to persevere through difficult circumstances to reach a goal or to keep to a schedule or a diet.

Spouses may also be brave, playful, forgiving, prudent, or open-minded. They may be great at nurturing loving relationships, being part of a team or community, or interacting socially with other people, too.

There are many character strengths, and each of them enhances our lives and makes the world a better place. Each of us embraces, hones, and relishes a few of them. As we do, we limit our opportunities to develop the others.

We can look for our mate's character strengths under the street lights of our own and come up empty-handed and critical. Or we can choose to turn and look beyond our own key strengths to see just how lucky we are to be married.


Thank you so much for this post! It's just what I needed today.

I am tickled pink to hear this, Melinda!

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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