So you have been with your spouse for quite a while, it’s normal to assume you know how they will act, think, or even feel in a specific situation. But how well do you really know your partner? Take the Gottman quiz to find out.
More often than not, acting like you can guess what your partner might be thinking isn’t the most productive thing to do. Mind reading can create a bigger issue. You may wind up spiraling into a whirlwind of stress and pessimism that snowballs into a major clash. This conflict can keep you from learning the truth about your partner’s feelings and keep you stuck in gridlock situations. Not giving your partner the benefit of the doubt will drive you further and further apart.
So what is one to do? Assume the best about your spouse.
Giving the Benefit of the Doubt is One of the Most Powerful Tools
Would you be able to think about a circumstance where you didn’t assume the best about your spouse? You stirred yourself up… and afterward felt amazingly humiliated when the reality of the situation was uncovered. You didn’t have anything to stress over in any case!
Assuming the best about your spouse not just causes you to stay away from these emotions, it advances trust and tolerance in your relationship. It shields your spouse from becoming defensive. It shows them that you value and respect them.
Also, if a past negative suspicion was accurate, it lets them see that you accept their ability to change and improve. Your spouse will feel closer to you and progressively valued by you. Which is probably going to make them assume the best about you, as well.
So how would you train yourself to assume the positive instead of the negative?
How about you switch places (in Imago terms it’s called visiting each others country).
For example, you’re running late for dinner. Your telephone dies; you’re trapped in rush hour gridlock, the unexpected client shows up….Sounds familiar and possible?
Eventually, you show up at the restaurant, late, tired, and hungry. Your spouse promptly treats you with complete disdain. Or even better accuses you of being vindictive and not caring. You attempt to clarify, yet they won’t have it! Is there any good reason why they shouldn’t trust what you are saying?
It truly hurts when a spouse doesn’t assume the best about you. When both people show up as their best selves – the relationship benefits.
Channel empathy towards your mate. They are playing for the same team as you. When something upsets you, be open to accepting your loved ones’ subjective reality. Simply enquire about what happened to make them late. Don’t challenge their decisions or offer alternative options. This already happened and simply enjoy the present moment.
See the situation from your spouse’s perspective. Accept that they are attempting their best and mean well. Different approaches to life are not wrong, just different. Sometimes negative feelings can flood us and our best efforts at dismissing them do not work. Try softly addressing the problem from a solution mindset.