Marriage Hack #4: Fake it Till You Make it!
Research has shown that even when you aren’t happy, if you smile, your brain is tricked into thinking you are happy which then triggers the production of neurochemicals that actually do make you happy. This is called the facial feedback hypothesis and it is the basis of the recommendation “fake it till you make it.”
Changing your behavior first really does produce emotional change. When I feel angry or frustrated with my husband, I withdraw and withhold affection which--no surprise--exacerbates the disconnection, increases tension, and halts communication.
Here’s an example:
I’ve been feeling annoyed with my husband for a comment he made a few days ago that I haven’t let go of. Rather than talking to him about it, I’ve created an entire story about it in my head which has fueled my annoyance. He comes downstairs while I am in the kitchen getting lunches ready. I feel like giving him the cold shoulder and continuing to stew in my annoyance. I know that doing this isn’t helpful and creates a rift between us but I feel like doing it anyway!
He comes downstairs while I am in the kitchen getting lunches ready. In my head, I count 5-4-3-2-1. I walk over to him, give him a long hug and say, “I’ve been feeling upset about something and want to talk about it.” Did I want to hug him? Absolutely not. Did I feel affectionate? No! But, faking it until I make it allows me to interrupt my unhelpful behavior and reestablish our connection.
Experiment with this and see what happens. I think you’ll be surprised by the outcome.