Dare #11 of The Respect Dare – Pay Attention!

From today’s dare…

As she walked from the workshop to the house, she remembered several weeks ago, when she asked for his help and he completely ignored her, not even answering.

Is your marriage in a state where one of you ignores the other?

Understand that choosing to not respond to someone when s/he asks you a question is a negative response, even if you’d like to justify it as “no response,” it’s a negative experience for the other.

No one likes to be ignored.

In an effort to change the number of positives to negatives from whatever it might be now to Gottman’s well-researched “happy relationship” ratios of



That’s 20 positive interactions for one negative interaction in the day-to-day and 5 positives to one negative during conflict!

We need to address another concept Dr. Gottman reveals in his work, that of…


What occurs in Dare Eleven today, the wife’s initial reaction of fuming irritation, is fed by prior negative experiences with her husband.

At some point in relationships, we need to assess what kind of sentiment we’re steeped in – because it makes a difference. Most of the issue stems from living in the wrong time with the wrong focus.

Instead of being in the Now we are in or seeing reality, we are:

  • Focused on the future by setting expectations, which can be unhelpful, or prescribing negative outcomes
  • Focused on the past by ruminating on past failures and disappointments
  • Focused on only positive
  • Focused only on the negative

whatever we pay attention to grows kids

Dating and engaged couples often make poor choices in a mate based on POSITIVE sentiment over-ride. They view rudeness, a lack of consideration, even abuse, and both small and large value differences in the most positive light possible, extending grace like crazy because their overall perception is extremely positive.

That’s just ONE reason why if you are dating or engaged, you should seriously ask your family for their feedback about the person you might marry – they’re not drowning in hormones or positive sentiment. They can see the forest for the trees.

Negative Sentiments

Couples who have been married for more than three years often begin to experience NEGATIVE sentiments. It used to be seven years, but recent research suggests that as early as three years into a marriage, too many couples begin wondering if they made the right choice in a husband or wife and discontent starts to grow.

Couples who have had children and become empty nesters see a spike in their discontent during those two stages as well.

What is interesting is that the truth becomes irrelevant – the state of the relationship is defined by the SENTIMENTS. 

So what do you do if you’re in trouble? If your husband (or you) is defensive much of the time, and/or you or s/he has become critical and negative?

Gottman’s research shows that those couples who change the quality of their friendship impact the relationship sentiment – you can’t just “increase positive sentiment” by choosing to be more positive yourself – you have to directly impact the friendship element in your marriage for that to occur. I’m guessing this might also apply to parenting and sibling relationships.

create positive interactions today

*TIP ALERT: I’ve also seen combining the above friendship enhancement with “I-statements” instead of choosing to ignore hurts plays a HUGE factor in helping your spouse turn his or her negative sentiment around. 

The danger occurs when we stop searching for what’s true, and instead, we negatively interpret our husband or wife’s motives with the most negative perception possible, like the gal in Dare Eleven did.  It is the lack of benefit of the doubt, the lack of grace, the infiltration of the enemy, that starts skewing our perception of reality.

Instead of asking ourselves, “What’s true?” AND paying attention to the positives, like our wife in today’s story wisely does, negative sentiment over-ride often creeps in and we STOP our thinking at the negative initial selfish feelings we have over feeling slighted.

None of this is to say we should sign up for being taken advantage of, or being treated like a doormat. Speaking truth into her husband’s life, this wise wife first saw what was actually TRUE (fighting against negative sentiment over-ride) then gently, kindly, and smartly got what she needed, and did not CREATE more damage in the relationship.

Because that’s how the cycle works – we begin the spin – perceive a negative, then dish a negative.

We also miss an opportunity to help others respect us when we lose control and emotionally vomit all over them – which is disrespectful behavior.

Sometimes reviewers say I’m encouraging women to be doormats – this story is one of many examples of how women of strength and dignity are worthy of respect, smart, and self-controlled, and can get a good result if they will follow God’s Word in how they think and act.

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Phillippians 4:8

I hope you can see very clearly the potential for the destruction that could have occurred in today’s dare had the wife responded in a negative way.

How are you doing in this department? Where are your relationships right now? I confess, I have one relationship where I’m seriously struggling with negative sentiment over-ride – on both sides. It helped derail me last week, so please know I understand the difficulties involved.

And what am I doing about it?

As for me, I had a conversation with this family member. I let him know what was going on, and that I was sorry for contributing to the problem. We talked through options for both of us.

It was awesome.

It’s not fully better yet, but it’s getting there. And he’s working on it too, which helps.

A lot.

I encourage you to do the same.  You know this is nothing new, if you’ve been here for a while. It’s making a difference for me, and it’s helping me continue moving forward.

I hope you are subscribed to the blog by signing up for the marriage tips and journeying with us. We don’t do things perfectly, and sometimes we stumble, but you are welcome to learn along with us.

I’m so thankful you are on the journey with us.  We NEED you. 🙂 We really truly need your prayers as we work hard through the bazillion details to finish this leg of our journey strong.

Meditation and relaxation on an empty road

And whatever you do, please join me in this: don’t give up. In the words of Zig Ziglar, “Anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly until you can get it right.”

And if you are parenting tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings, you should totally follow Debbie. Like us on Facebook or follow on Twitter as @NinaRoesner.  Come join the discussions!

Love to you,


Read the fictional book about 6 wives who are learning the benefits of 20:1 and 5:1!  Dare to Respect is changing hearts one marriage at a time.










Want to get respect right with parenting?  Read Debbie’s book, With All Due Respect.










Meet Nina Roesner of The Respect Dare, Debbie Hitchcock of With All Due Respect, Tammy Oberg De La Garza of Dare to Respect, and all the phenomenal women of Greater Impact Ministries at Boot Camp, where you will …


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