5 positives to 1 negative

I think studying Marriage for my Bachelor’s degree was very insightful, but it was also an obsession that could only be sated by a bunch of information and deep study.

I was engaged when I finished my last semester at Brigham Young University (BYU) and I was looking forward to taking what seemed to be one of the BIGGEST steps of my life.

I was completely infatuated with my husband and I couldn’t wait to live a full life with him.

He would continue to comment that studying Marriage, Family, and Human Development was teaching me how to be a SUPER MOM and being infatuated with him as I was, I tended to agree with him, although I REALLY REALLY wanted to be a career woman, eventually being a Marriage and Family Therapist.

My love for the subject of Marriage and Family never died.

I never told my husband that first year of marriage about my harboring dream of one day becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist because after we were married I figured I would just sign up for Grad school and explain to him then that I just wanted to avoid paying for financial aid…the best way to do that was to go back to school…right? lol!

…but right before graduation at BYU in 2001 I found out I was pregnant. We had been married for a year and a half and I had been like a FISH in water! I loved being married! But…

Of everything that I studied at BYU and from what I learned in THE CHURCH, I knew, for myself, that my harbored desire would need to be put on hold.

I was okay with that.

But I still tend to wander over to Marriage Counseling sites. Reading what new theories have come about and what people are doing to help marriage along.I have also read many books from AMAZING authors, some LDS, some not…that have great ways to help a couple keep marriage exciting and fun, along with dealing with the problems, anxieties, and fears the come along with it.

I’m NOT an expert.

But I want to share what I have learned. And if you are apt to listen…
then maybe you will walk away with something you haven’t known before. And maybe you can teach me something also…that is the best way to learn anyway…right?

So here is the first thing I learned at BYU that actually stuck in my brain as something I couldn’t forget.

The 5:1 Theory/aspect/or whatever name you feel is appropriate! lol!

There was a study done at University of Seattle’s love lab and also a study done by a psychologist, John Gottman, who came up with the five-to-one ratio.

But they found while observing couples over a period of time that those couples who, on AVERAGE said 5 negative things about their spouse or TO their spouse to 1 positive thing said, ended up with a failed relationship or a hostile relationship.

However, those couples that said 5 positive things about or to their spouse to 1 negative thing, ended up with strong relationships or contented relationships!

WOW! I thought the first time I read through that study. Very interesting. Yet totally understandable right?

I mean think about it.

If you can’t think of 5 positive things to say about your spouse, or significant other in some cases, in the course of the day, then there most likely would be a problem, because that would mean you only can think of more NEGATIVE things then positive things.

Think about a relationship that you have been in or have seen where the spouse, (man or woman) is always harping on their spouse. They never see the GOOD thing the spouse does because they can only see or only look at the things they have NOT done or have NOT said.

For example, I have a co-worker who comes over to my cubicle quite often. Most of the time when he talks about his wife he is respectful.

The other day though he seemed to have frayed emotions and he was letting it all out.

His wife’s Mom as moved in with them. They have two small children, and both of them work full-time. Already they have added stress to their marriage. But he doesn’t complain about any of that.

What he does complain about is that the other day he cleaned his BEDROOM and BATHROOM while his wife was out working all day. He did this because he said that he knew she would be tired and he wanted to give her a quiet sanctuary where she could relax when she got home because Christmas had been stressful that year.

When his wife got home and walked in the bedroom the first thing she said was, “You were suppose to take out the trash and take the movies back! I see that they are still here and the trash still needs to be taken out! Do you ever listen to me?” Then told him she needed to go check on her Mom.

He confided in me that he wasn’t sure how long he could take that abuse. That he got that ALL the time. (All is definitely an unhealthy word in a marriage, as well as, NEVER and ALWAYS). He was still thinking about all of his hard work being tossed aside as meaning little, still angry about it, so thinking in desperate terms.

I’ve seen this many times.

In my marriage…I take a day at a time. Believe me when I say, there are some days I can think of MORE than 5 negative things about my husband…but most days, I would venture to say the MAJORITY of days with him I find that if I can still think about my husband with at least 5 postivie things going in his favor then I am ultimately happy, with life, with him, with family.

So I challenge you to try that. When you talk about your spouse or talk TO your spouse try the 5 positives to 1 negative. See how it works. Do you find yourself instantly thinking first of Negative things? Try changing your thinking. If you are happy…do you see yourself doing this kind of thing without even having to think about it?


I want to continue to share what I have learned through experiences and through books, media, and other forms, often, with you guys if you’re okay with that! :) I know there is ALWAYS an exception to every rule and everyone’s circumstances are different, which is why I would like to hear from all of you and see what you guys think about some of the stuff I throw at you!



p.s. And don’t you just LOVE the new look of Modern Molly? Way to go Whit!


Shelle is a wife of 1 and a Mom of 2. Lifelong member of the Church. She is a graduate in Marriage and Family Science from Brigham Young University. Shelle also believes in living life one laugh at a time! Find out more about Shelle on her personal blog, BlokThoughts.

9 responses to “5 positives to 1 negative”

  1. Shelle-BlokThoughts says:

    Hey glad you liked it guys…I didn’t even know this post went up when it did because I was on Blog Cation…or I would have had more of a discussion with you guys! But I’m so happy to continue to talk about different ideas! :)

  2. Shimmy Mom says:

    Wonderful post. I think it makes perfect sense, but so many of us don’t think about it. Thanks for the wonderful reminder. I can’t wait for your other posts.

  3. Becca says:

    That is a great rule! I’ll definitely try it!

  4. Andrea says:

    The 5:1 rule definitely works in our marriage. I learned it in a class at BYU, too. :)

  5. Lolli says:

    What a wonderful post! Thank you!

  6. Valorie says:

    Most always, I try to treat people the way I want to be treated. Sometimes though it is hard to be positive when you are having someone be negative about you. I am putting a 5:1 sign on my wall to help me remember. Thanks for the awesome post, I had never heard this concept before and I have been married 29 years.

  7. chococatania says:

    Thanks for the post. I agree that we need to be more positive than negative. In addition, I’ve noticed that the more positive I am with my family and children, then the happier I am in general.

    I don’t mean to sound selfish, but I love to be happy. It is so much easier to choose to emphasize the good things others are doing. Not only do they feel happier, but when we do it, we feel happier, too!

    Thanks for the post!


  8. Mittongal says:

    What a great idea! What a great tool to help strengthen marriages. I love this. Thanks for sharing Shelle! You rock!

  9. Misc Molly says:

    I learned about the postives/negative when my son was young. A therapist friend told me about it when I shared my anxiety about my relationship with my little boy. I started doing it and it has made all the difference with him. He will be 19 next week and I still think we have a great relationship – one in which he REALLY knows I love him. GREAT advice.


    Thanks for your sweet words about the site. :)

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