Milt Erickson was the foremost hypnotherapist and marriage counselor in the United States. He once made a statement that he could make someone fall in love or out of love. How did he do this? He took one hundred couples and told them for ten days to write down everything that was wrong with their mate. He then took one hundred other couples and for ten straight days had them write down everything that was right about their mate. After ten days, the couples who wrote down the list of everything that was wrong reported to be 38% less satisfied in their marriage. The couples who were writing down what was right were 18% more satisfied.
Experts say that the average marriage deteriorates about one percent a year. I don’t think it is just marriages that do this, really it is any relationship. Depending on what you’re looking at and how you are judging something you are either consciously adding value to it or subtracting value from it.
It’s what’s wrong with Thanksgiving. For a lot of people, Thanksgiving takes place once a year. They express appreciation and give thanks on this day and perhaps a day or two before or after if we’re lucky then it fades away out of sight on the calendar out of mind. They then go back to their old ways and before you know it they’re at the bar after work drowning their sorrows complaining about the economy, their jobs or their boss. Strangely enough they call this activity Happy Hour. Go figure.
In physics, it’s called the law of deterioration. Simply put: things will move from good to bad unless worked upon. One of the biggest mistakes we make in life is ignoring the law of deterioration. Did you ever meet someone whose fourth husband was any different than her first second or third husband? Two of my friends growing up in Pennsylvania had a mother like this. There was always something wrong with her husband (whichever one she was married to at the time). How did I know this? Easy all you had to do was spend five minutes with her and she would tell you.
Her first husband was a school teacher/coach who “didn’t make enough money.” The second one was a dentist (made more than enough money), but “didn’t understand kids or how to raise them.” The third was a cop and their marriage could have been timed with a stopwatch. He was “too organized and strict.” The fourth, whom she traveled across the country to live with in Texas, was a pilot. What was wrong with him was that “he wasn’t home enough” (apparently she didn’t realize travel was an occupational hazard for pilots).
What happened to each of these men? The law of deterioration, that’s what. The problem was that no matter who she married or where she traveled to live with them she never changed. She was keeping the wrong list finding what was wrong and not what was right. She thought if she changed the situation/relationship she wouldn’t have to change herself. Each marriage started out great and then when she didn’t work on them they each moved from good to bad.
The Solution: WORK ON IT! The only solution to overcoming the law of deterioration is to keep your guard up constantly. Do not take people or things for granted. The problem is we do not stay vigilant against deterioration; we just assume the marriage, the friendship, the job, the house, will always be as wonderful as they first were when they were new. Work on it and it will not deteriorate. Whatever your it is.