Understanding How “Positive Flooding” Works to Improve Your Marriage

A good number of our clients come to us for the first time for relationship advice after they’ve already gotten to a place where it’s difficult to even see the positive in each other anymore. If that sounds like you, we want to start with this: 

All the feelings you’re having about one another (or possibly a lack thereof)? They are completely normal

So how do you get back to good, then? What if we told you there might be a way to set aside all the negativity for just a few minutes a week? And that this alone could slowly dissolve the thick cloud that seems to hang over you both? Would you give it a shot?

We want to introduce you and your partner to the practice of “positive flooding.”

Positive Flooding: Relationship Advice That’s Exactly What It Sounds Like

When you “flood” someone with positivity, it means exactly that. This practice involves dedicating 5-15 minutes each week (some couples even use a timer) for one partner to shower the other with positivity. Tell them everything that you love, admire, appreciate, and feel grateful for about them. Most relationship advice isn’t quite so straightforward or simple, but this really is.

Been a while since you’ve thought about the positive aspects of your partner? You may want to reserve the first week as a writing exercise only. Grab a pen and paper. Jot down three (or more) of the qualities you like the most about your spouse in each of the following categories: 

  • Physical Characteristics: Your partner’s eyes, skin tone, or other aspects of their physique. These are often some of the characteristics that attracted you to one another in the first place. 
  • Personality Traits: An amazing sense of humor. Kindness. Patience. This one may take extra thought because our perspective changes over time. Is “the silent treatment” really the way they remain “calm”?  
  • Behaviors: This can be about some of the habitual acts your partner does for you or your family that you notice and appreciate, like massaging your feet after a hard week or reading to the kids before bed. 
  • Global Affirmations: Close with superlatives. (Remember, we’re flooding here!) What is your partner the greatest at doing? Does he make the most amazing steak? Does she know exactly what song to play every time? Write it down! 

Once you’ve written everything you can think of down, set a date with one another for your first actual flooding session if you can’t do it now and stick to it. You’ll be glad you did. 

Guiding Principles for Your Positive Flooding Sessions 

We’ve talked before about the effects that having a negative outlook on your relationship can pose. Regardless of whether there is any true physical threat, when the brain senses negativity in the air, it triggers a “fight or flight” response. 

The practice of positive flooding is part of the work toward reversing this trigger response in ourselves. When you participate in positive flooding, go into it with these guiding principles in mind: 

Your Energy Follows Your Attention

Your energy always follows your attention. When you “invest” in the positive aspects of your partner, you are no longer honing your abilities to focus on their faults. Positive flooding also creates a surplus of positive energy to help neutralize inevitable situations of conflict. 

Recognizing Your Role Strengthens Your Relationship

Sometimes we forget that we are two separate people who have committed to helping one another on their own unique journeys. When you recognize that your only role in this relationship is to help one another, it becomes easier to continue down that path together.  

It’s Also Okay to Ask for Professional Relationship Advice! 

All told, positive flooding, as lovely as the concept sounds, can sometimes seem over the top and awkward for couples at first. This is also completely normal — especially when you’ve grown apart. Still, give it a shot. 

If it doesn’t get easier after a couple of tries, consider contacting Tim Higdon and Norene Gonsiewski for private relationship advice. Sometimes an outside pair of eyes can help identify the source of anxiety or awkwardness either of you might feel both giving and getting a flood of positive affection from one another.