Today’s NUGGET is respectfully reposted from Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott…some of my relationship education favorites. You’ll love them, too.

Here’s a question for you. Do you and your spouse ever dwell on what might have been?

Ruminating on alternative scenarios, such as being married to someone different from your spouse, can create tension in your marriage. It can also fuel bitterness if the two of you are facing difficult times. While it’s human nature to think about different possibilities, dwelling on what might have been could be harmful to your relationship.


Sometimes, you can find yourselves speculating about different possible outcomes out of simple curiosity. These conversations can start out innocently enough, then later create hurt feelings. For instance, you and your spouse might ask one another questions like:

  • “If you could start over, would you do things the same?”
  • “Who would you have married if you hadn’t married me?”
  • “If we were still dating, who else might stand a chance?”

Hurt feelings and insecurity can easily arise from these kinds of exchanges, especially when the answers involve people you actually know in real life. But even questions as seemingly harmless as, “Who’s the most attractive celebrity, in your opinion?” can cause hurt feelings.

While you might feel safe asking and answering questions like this in the moment, there could be backlash. Suddenly, you find yourself envisioning your spouse with another person, or vice versa. Feelings of insecurity, jealousy, and even anger toward that person might emerge.


The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with being curious. But sometimes, dwelling on what might have been just borrows trouble. Instead, focus on creating more joy together.

Oftentimes, these conversations come up during leisure time, or even party games. But if hard feelings arise, you might walk away feeling upset. Why not stay connected to the life you’ve built together? Or better yet, spend time dreaming of your goals and aspirations for the future.

Another way to create joy is to inject humor when a lighthearted conversation gets touchy. Find things to laugh about together. Defuse the situation with humor, then redirect the conversation toward something that makes you both feel happier. A little self-deprecating humor can go a long way here; for example, laugh at yourself for your tendency to compare yourself to others.


When you feel insecure, you often zero in on the strengths of the other person. For instance, if you’re concerned that your spouse might be attracted to a high school sweetheart, you might get preoccupied with the things they’re better at. But remember, your spouse ultimately chose you.

No matter what might have been, you’re together now. Take time to celebrate that fact. And if there are less-than-ideal circumstances in your relationship which make you feel insecure, think about how you can improve the situation.

The key to fulfilling, lifelong love is a healthy marriage – and our marriages can only be as healthy as You are.

The Parrott’s book, Healthy Me, Healthy Us, provides a roadmap to help you and your spouse get on the path to better health as individuals, so you can be better together. Find out more and get a copy.

Have you and your spouse ever found yourselves talking about what might have been? How did you redirect that conversation to a positive place?

Start with affirmations about each other…”I appreciate _____________ about you!” Take turns and then express gratitude for the affirmation.