When you’ve been with a partner for a long time, it’s typical to assume you know how they will behave in a particular situation. Or even why they think or do something.
Most of the time, acting like you can read your partner’s mind isn’t the worst thing in the world. Your partner may even find it amusing. But when you start assuming negative intent, it can turn into a huge problem.
You may end up spiraling into a flurry of worry and negativity that snowballs into a big conflict. A conflict that prevents you from learning the truth about what was happening in the first place. Worse, if you continue to behave this way, it will push you further and further apart.
What should you do instead? Give your partner the benefit of the doubt.
The Power of Giving the Benefit of the Doubt
Can you think of a situation where you didn’t give your partner the benefit of the doubt? You worked yourself up… and then felt extremely embarrassed when the truth was revealed. You had nothing to worry about in the first place!
Giving your partner the benefit of the doubt not only helps you to avoid these feelings, it promotes positivity and patience in your relationship. It keeps your partner from jumping into defensive mode. It shows them that you trust and appreciate them.
And if a negative assumption would have been based on previous bad behavior, it lets them see that you believe they have the power to change and improve.
As you might imagine, these are all things that foster connection. Your partner will feel closer to you and more appreciated by you. Which is likely to make them give you the benefit of the doubt, too.
So how do you train yourself to not go negative?
Let’s reverse the roles for a minute.
Say, for example, you’re running late for date night. Your phone dies, you’re stuck in traffic, you have to work late… you get the idea.
When you finally make it to the restaurant, your partner immediately gives you the cold shoulder. Or accuses you of malicious and negative things. You try to explain, but they won’t have it! Why won’t they believe you?
It can really sting with a partner doesn’t give you the benefit of the doubt.
I want you to embrace this simple idea: be curious, not furious. When something upsets you, seek to understand the reasons why it happened. Imagine how much differently this scenario could have gone if your partner had simply asked why you were late. If he had shown curiosity rather than anger.
Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Assume that they are trying their best and have good intentions. You not only get to imagine how they might be feeling, but how your doubts are likely to impact them.
If you find your worry and anxiety taking over, distract yourself. Meditate. Cook a nice meal. Read a book. Do something that takes your mind off what upsets you.
Get to the point where you can talk to your partner to figure out the facts of a situation. You will feel more refreshed, more open-minded, and more positive about the situation – and your partner.
Rooting for you!