Thursday, July 9, 2009

Living with a pessimist when you're an optimist

For the last 19 years I have been married to a man I love with all my heart. We have four kids, have moved several times and have shared many interesting experiences in our journey.  It took me a long time to figure him out, actually, I'm still working on that. But my biggest issue with him is his pessimism.  It wasn't until I learned the meaning of pessimist and optimist that I could really begin to "get him" and his attitude towards just about anything in life.

When we were having our first baby, I remember him saying "watch, he'll probably come in the middle of the night," or "he'll probably cry all night."  I used to back it up with "it is entirely possible that he comes during the day and doesn't cry much at all, have you ever thought of that?"  I remember so many moments when he would take the negative approach to the situation as opposed to just seeing the positive side of thing and that just made me angry and we would end up in a big fight over what? Nothing that really mattered.  I just didn't know how to handle his attitude or his outlook on life.

Today he remains the same, although, he does try a little harder to not ruin a nice moment by throwing in his two cents of negativity.  Recently I heard him say "just plan to go broke when we don't sell the house for the asking price."  I, on the other hand, expect we will sell the house and everything will be fine.  No need to needlessly worry myself or the kids at this point.

He says that he would rather think something wont work then if he does he's pleasantly surprised, rather than think positively and be disappointed if things don't work out.  To me that's just backwards.  I mean, I think one can be a realist at the very least.  I don't see any benefit in thinking negatively all the time.

Negative thoughts stress me out, make me feel defeated before I even start, take away all my energy and everyone pays.  I don't like me with that attitude.  Living a positive life fills me with energy, I become more aware of the beauty that surrounds me and while the possibility of disappointment may be there, I can look back at the experiences in my journey and still be happy, even when things don't go my way.

We've grown together and matured, somewhat, still maintaining who we really are but learning to accept each others quirks.  I seek out quotes, poems, books, and stories that are inspirational and feed the mind in positive ways.  He reads them and never comments on them probably because he will most likely find something negative to say.  He does make me laugh sometimes, which is probably my way of putting up with his negative ways.  I often wonder how he comes up with those comebacks...amazing.

The moral to my story is that we all have quirks and not everyone likes everything about us. We need to always work hard to learn all that we can about the people we love so that we can better understand their behavior and hopefully they will reciprocate.  One thing is for sure, our kids are and will be well rounded.  They are mostly very positive--thanks to me-- but depending on the situation, they are able to be realist and see the potential negative in a situation without letting themselves drown in it--thanks to dad.

I'm sure we wont be living in a cardboard box after all is said and done. It's all good!


  1. 19 years is awesome. me and my wife are going on 17, and while it does take effort, it has been a labor of love.


  2. Thank you Mike. You are right about "labor of love" when it comes to marriage. It is hard work, it does take effort but in the end it most definitely is well worth it.

  3. My husband and I will be married for 37 years on August 25. You could be describing my husband and me. I have come to realize with my husband that someone when he was a child disappointed him so many times that he learned to not expect things to go as he wanted them to. The disappointment was too great too many times. Now that I have accepted that about him, I don't get so upset with his negativity but like you I do put out the good that could happen. Have a glorious day.

  4. Thank you. I like that I'm not the only one looking at the bright side of my hubby or for my hubby. I have often wondered if all the childhood issues with mom and dad have something to do with his view on things's very possible.

  5. Thought I would stop by your blog. Thanks for your comment on mine.
    My hubby and I have been married 30 years. At some point, it all clicked. I understood better about who he is and why he reacts the way he does to things. And I was overwhelmingly aware of the fact that no matter what, he loved me. My trust grew and my understanding grew also. Sounds like things are 'clicking' for you too!!

  6. So I'm not the only one living with a pessimist. Good to know. My problem is recating to his negativity. any tips on just listening and not taking the negativity too seriously? We also have a 1 year old and I'm very concerned about the impact his attitude will have on hers. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

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  8. I am so happy to hear that I am not the only one living with a pessimist. Is it just my imagination or are most of them men? I have been married to my husband for over 20 years and we have seperated a few times because of his attitude on life. I always took this personally like he was critisising me and my thoughts. It wasn't until today when I read your story and what your husband said, "he would rather think something wont work then if he does he's pleasantly surprised" I totally get that! Based on what my husband has told me about his life and how his dad beat him until he was 6, never had anything possitive to say and always promised things that he never did. I totally get it! I do love my husband especially when he behaves like the person I know he is deep down. I just have to learn not to take him and his comments so serousely (excuse the spelling) this is a hard thing for me to do since I'm so pig headed. I remember talking with him about something I read about, it was about people who tried a test and stood on the sidewalk and as people walked by they offered them a hug and they talked about how it made their lifes so much more fulfilled not to mention the positive aspect they had on the people they hugged. Anyway I mentioned that this sounded like a great idea and boom instantly I was shot down and he made fun of the, "crazy nuts" who did that. I was crushed and felt so alone and devestated, I felt like a fool and wondered how in the world I could stay with a man who made me feel this way. I have let him tear my spirit away peice by peice. Guess what folks no more! I will still love my husband but I know that I have to be stronger than I have been. I can't be so pig headed I have to know that I am the only one that can control my actions and thoughts. I just hope that our two kids don't turn out like their father!

  9. This is great and all that you can look at all this negativity with an optimistic view. However... I think after several years it can affect you personally and potentially affect your childrens' view on life. If it possibly has to do with their upbringing - it is very easy for this attitude/way of life to be passed on. After several years its just too hard to convince them of the goodness in things and hold them up... while they are dragging your thoughts down. Its like when your children have been hanging out with 'that friend' of theirs... the one with the bad attitude - they come home with that attitude. If you are around this pessamistic attitude for so long - it can affect you. Its depressing. They make the bad worse and the good bad. Where is the good in that? I cant say I see it anymore.

  10. I have to agree with anonymous. I have always been very high spirited, always smiling and laughing. After 20 years with a pessimistic husband, I have found it harder to smile. I have had a hard time putting my finger on it....but I beleve the posts above hit the nail on the head. Although I love him, when is it time to say I want to find the happy me again??

  11. I knew I couldn't be the only optimist living with a husband who is a pessimist. I read somewhere that the difference between an optimist and a pessimist is that when one thing goes wrong, the optimist will deal with that *one* thing and it won't cloud the rest of their outlook. A pessimist will allow that *one* thing that went wrong to color his view on all the events in his life. This is so true of my husband. If one thing is wrong, then everything is wrong. We recently had water damage to our house. The professionals who came out to clean up were very nice. When I said to my husband "The people from XXX Company are really nice." He said "That's probably because they charge a lot of money." When they told us they'd be back at 3:00 o'clock and it was 3:30, my husband said "Are they here yet?" I said "No, I suppose the job they were on is taking a little longer." His reply was "Or they went to somebody else's house first."

    Sometimes I just want to laugh because I just don't understand how anybody could be that negative. Also, when he's in a really pessimistic state, he'll just sit on a chair in the kitchen and stare out the window. Imagining, I suppose how *everything* has gone wrong. LOL

    More than once he's accused me of "not caring" about a particular situation. It's not that I don't care, it's that I don't let that situation rule my life. If there's a problem, I work to fix it and get on with things, I don't dwell on it and let it bring me down.

    I agree totally with the other two anon posters. I don't live in a happy, positive home and it can and does get to you after a while. I have to fill my emotional needs for positivity in relationships with others. Thank God for friends :) Have a great day!

  12. Thank jeebus I found this...I literally googled "the only optimist living in a sea of pessimists" because my boyfriend of 5 years and roommate of 4 years are both hopelessly pessimistic. It took me a while to see it and we go through times when it's not so bad. Lately with money being tight and both of them losing their jobs within a few months of each other it's been constant negativity and I feel like I'm drowning. My boyfriend and I have 3 kids and I can completely see how it affects them. I stay as upbeat as I can and try to point out the good in every situation to them but it's a sort of erosion that just wears you down after a while.
    Amen to the last poster who said "Thank God for Friends." If it wasn't for my friends and family I wouldn't have been able to stay in this relationship with a guy who is great in every way except for being a chronic pessimist.

  13. I am pregnant with our first child married to a really upsets me that everything is always bad or wrong our going against us....according to my husband anyway.I used to be a happy person who smiled all the time but now? Not so much. If I even put in my two cents it causes a huge fight....i'm tired of it!

  14. I just wanted to add my two cents to this subject. I like what the other posters had to say. I am an optimist living and married 10 years to a pessimist. I cant stand it much longer. When I first met my husband I was a very bright, positive and happy person. I saw the good in everything. I would help anyone needing help. But over the 10 years, I went through menopause... and if you mix those emotions with the attitude of a pessimist...well it sucked the optimist right out of me. I have not been happy for quite some time. I have been continuously trying to find that spark of happiness within me somewheres. I was looking for my happiness externally. I felt if I lost weight I would be happy (I didnt succeed at this...yet). If I dressed nicely I would be happy (so I buy alot of clothes, spending WAY too much money that we really cant afford). Nothing (externally) was making me happy. I had even begun isolating from my friends and thinking negatively of them. In my relationship I am dealing with a man who is very negative, and judgemental with others. He wont know these people, but he makes assumptions on their social status, financial status and characters. People he does know he can be just as harsh with. When I try to point out that he could be wrong, he accuses me of "always trying to start a fight with him", and "why cant I just agree with him once in awhile?". Living this way has made me negative and judgemental and I do NOT like who I am and who I have become. Its just not me! Its exhausting and Im not liking him very much anymore either... but I do love him. In this depressed state I have been searching the internet and books and by the grace of God I have figured it out. I found where my happiness was before and now I know how to get it back. It is all in my ATTITUDE. Happiness is in a persons attitude. I was optimistic and I was VERY happy. Today I am trying very hard to deflect his negativity with positive thinking. Its not easy by any means. I am trying to be positive and do things that make me feel good. This empty optimist is going to refill myself with optimism and try my darndest to drain that pessimist with my positivity. I want to be HAPPY again. I love my husband but I am no good to us if I am not my optimistic happy self. So for any other optimists out there living with a pessimist, its a classic case of good vs. bad. My husband was fun loving when we first met and I believe it had alot to do with my optimism then and I want him back again, so we can enjoy the rest of our lives together now that all the children are gone and on their own.

  15. I have been married 6 years and have 2 young kids. My husband is a pessimist. Before we had kids, while I find it slightly annoying that he is a pessimist, it's still bearable as I don't mind going along with his preferences and sometimes even find the things he worries about amusing. He is otherwise a good man, kind, loyal, honest and hardworking.

    However, after having kids, I find it increasingly unbearable that he is such a pessimist and at time, overprotective of what the kids can and cannot do. I get so mad when he won't let the kids try out new things or even deviate from their routine slightly so we can go for longer outings e.g. zoo, parks, farms, etc. Our oldest boy was eating mostly blended food till 2 because my husband was so worried that he would choke. I told him what our kid could do at the playground and his first question was "what if he falls?". I don't want the kids to grow up to be timid, reluctant to try out new thing or have very low tolerance for stress. It drives me nuts and it has gotten to a point where I would rather take the kids for outings on my own rather than with him because he would normally get frustrated with the smallest things and just ruin everybody's day. He told me his frustration is not targeted at us, he just need to vent by cursing or showing his displeasure on his face. I don't understand why he gets so frustrated over the smallest matters e.g. can't get into the lift cause it's full, long queue, can't find a carpark, etc. All I want is for him to just relax and have some fun!

    I am trying my best to understand him - stress at work, inability to express his fear for our safety, natural tendency to be negative, etc but it is wearing me down, I feel trapped and suffocated. I don't know what to do. I do love him and the kids but I am not enjoying myself in this relationship, it feels like a chore/ job most of the time. I am so tired, I don't even feel like arguing with him. And I don't feel like proactively doing anything to salvage this because why is it that I always have to be the one taking initiatives to resolve problems in the relationship? I feel like I am always the one giving...

    Argh, this is very frustrating! I don't want to give up on the relationship. What can I do?

  16. hmmmm I'm amazed at how many people post anonymously. Why is that? Anyway... There are ways to work thought these relationship issues; we do, everyday, sometimes I have to inject humor into what we say and do and quite frankly it really has helped me to understand him and his way of thinking. I'm not trying to change who he is, I picked him, I love him and I like him a lot. Now days if he says anything I say... it's OK you'll make it, if not then I guess it's over for you. Usually he laughs because he can see that it's not the END of the WORLD!!!

    Other suggestions - OK so we have humor, best medicine. Read Relax-You may only have a minute by Loretta LaRoche --Love this book, great ideas.

    Family Therapy and/or individual therapy

    Never tell your family or his about his behavior

    Smile and say it's OK. The kids will be fine. If they fall then they get up goes on.

    Laugh, Laugh, Laugh.... best medicine to cure the blues that someone else gives you :-)