Your husband wakes up grumpy, stumbles to the bathroom, glances at your reflection next to his in the mirror, and says “What’s wrong with your hair?” You glare: “I slept on it funny. Good morning to you too.”

Strike one against husband: “Why do you have to be so unpleasant first thing?”

You’re marshalling the kids’ breakfasts, making their lunches, packing backpacks. Your spouse enters, clean-shaven, ready to go. He holds out his car-coffee-cup: “We’re out of coffee.” “So, make some,” you reply, hoisting a backpack on a wriggling child.

Strike two against husband: “What am I, your slave?”

Mid-day, frantic with client deadlines, you text your mate: “Pic up dry cl plz.” He texts back “OK.” He breezes in at 6:00, gives you a squeeze and a kiss, plops down on the couch. No sign of any dry cleaning. You ask: “Did you leave the dry cleaning in the car?” “Oh, forgot to pick it up. Sorry, babe.” Cheers sports on TV.

Strike three against husband: “You thoughtless, selfish pig!”

By bedtime the mood is decidedly chilly. He’s definitely out. No cuddles from you tonight, that’s for sure.

Could this unfortunate end to your day have been prevented? Other than by trading your husband in for the mythical Stepford Husband?

Yes, indeed, it could, simply by following the famous 5:1 rule. Namely, for every one negative thought or statement about your spouse, you need to balance things out with five (yes that’s right, FIVE) positive thoughts or statements. No, I didn’t pull that figure out of thin air; it’s been well established, first by Dr. John Gottsman’s research (, then by many others.

Here’s what it means:

When you have that first “unpleasant” thought, do your best to find five things you like about your spouse to counter it. It could be that it’s nice to have a spouse! That at least he notices your hair . . . That he’s usually pleasant in the mornings. That maybe he had a bad night, he’ll get over it. That your hair really does look funky, he’s right, and you can have a laugh over it.

See how easy that was? And I don’t even know your husband.

When you pile negative thought on negative thought throughout your day--or your marriage--you destroy the good that is there. Choose instead to deliberately look for positive, good-feeling thoughts about your husband or your relationship.

Constantly tip the scales in favor of what you like rather than what you don’t, and you’ll reap the delicious benefits of happiness and joy.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a relationship expert, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of nine best-selling books. Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. Visit,