Thirty-Day Zero Negativity Challenge

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Well, folks, today’s the day that I will discuss the results of Ian’s and my 30-day Zero Negativity Challenge, which concluded yesterday. For the record, I didn’t debate much about how much or how little to post. While I don’t believe in airing my dirty laundry on the Internet, I do believe in being honest with myself and with y’all. Without further ado, let’s get right into it!

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I implemented the challenge August 5. I loosely based the idea on a newspaper article I’d read about negativity that may exist between couples without their conscious awareness. I don’t think Ian and I were unaware of the negativity that occurs between us, but I do think we were on different pages with what constitutes negativity.

Some days, I would let him know, “Okay, I’m marking down negativity for today,” and he would be like, “Really?! When?” On the one hand, I learned that Ian doesn’t sense negativity in our relationship as I do. On the other hand, I learned that Ian doesn’t sense negativity in our relationship as I do…

All told, I marked down 20 days of Zero Negativity out of 30! The days I marked on my calendar as “negative” were not typically due to actual arguments or serious fights, but more like sarcasm, nit-picking, snide comments, or off-handed remarks that bothered one of us more than they should have.

Let me just add here that I absolutely believe couples should joke, laugh, and be playful with one another, even if a couple’s style includes play-fighting, sarcasm, or playfully picking on each other. After all, if you can’t laugh together, what is all this for? However, there’s a difference between silliness or playful jabs, and comments or actions that take things to the next level and can be hurtful.

Let me also add that I did not mark down the person(s) behind the negativity for any given day. It wasn’t something I thought about until just now, likely because “negativity” is subject to interpretation (in this case, by the calendar-creator). I also don’t see it as necessarily relevant to be specific about who initiated instances of negativity.

The only pattern I saw emerging from this challenge was poor communication, which was always due to one of two things: being pushed for time to talk and having two hours between us.

Overall, I’d say 20 days out of 30 free of negativity of any sort is satisfactory. If I had to assign it a grade, I’d give it a B. I’d like to see us at an A+, but as with anything, making improvements in a relationship takes time. Perhaps this challenge is something we’d like to continue… what say you, Ian? 😉 Maybe it’s the Psychology nerd in me, but I’d be interested to see whether extraneous variables (e.g. the month of August having contained Ian’s first day of class, a wedding, my first day of class, my CPCE, etc.) affected the number of days of negativity. Would a month like, for example, November have fewer days of negativity?

We learned a lot about ourselves, about each other, and about our personal definitions of “negativity.” This challenge was, ironically, a positive experience for us, particularly as we were mindful about how we treated each other and about our honesty with recording. Y’all know I love a good challenge!

P.S. Is this something you would ever consider doing with your significant other? If so, would you publicize the outcome? Just curious!

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