Surprising new research finds that always looking on the bright side is not only unhelpful to struggling couples, it can actually damage their relationships even further.
Based on four multi-year studies of more than 900 newlyweds from different parts of the U.S., researchers have concluded that negative processes — placing blame, for example, or being less forgiving — often prove more useful in resolving conflict.
“Popular wisdom . . . suggests people should be optimistic, look at the bright side, bite their tongues, and forgive one another. And that is true — for people in satisfying relationships,” says James McNulty, associate professor of psychology at the University of Tennessee.
“But when we looked at couples facing more serious problems, those thoughts and behaviours appeared to be harmful.”
I don’t find this surprising in the least. False optimism is never a good idea, in marriage or elsewhere.