Here is a great way to better your relationship.
Carol raced home to tell her husband the good news. She just secured a major new client for the firm. Her boss pretty much told her that she was getting a promotion and a big time raise because of this accomplishment. You know, the kind of raise that could put them in the next tax bracket.
Carol was so excited. She was already envisioning taking that two week Vacation to Costa Rica she and Dan had always been talking about. She was practically jumping out of her skin at the thought of sipping margaritas while lying on the sunny warm beach.
When she got home she gave Dan a huge hug and started expressing her joy and excitement. As she spoke she began to notice Dan didn’t share in her enthusiasm. While telling the triumphs of her day, she started to think “What’s wrong with Dan? Why can’t he just focus on me for once? He always thinks about himself. He is so selfish for not celebrating this moment with me!”
Carol couldn’t take it anymore and yelled at Dan…”What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you ever be happy for me?”
Dan said he had a rough day and would tell her about it later, but wanted to hear about her successful day first.
Carol was too mad at this point to enjoy the moment and told Dan he ruined it for her. She sarcastically said “So, what exactly made your day sooooo Haaaard?”
Dan started to cry and told Carol that he’d just found out his mother died about 30 minutes ago. He said he really tried to hold it together and savor the moment with her, but just couldn’t do it.
Carol instantly felt a sinking feeling in her stomach and felt awful for how she reacted. If only she had known she wouldn’t gotten mad.
Assuming the Worst of People
We make up stories constantly about why other people do what they do. The clerk at Costco is short with us because her boss just told her she has to work overtime. Our waitress at the Cheesecake Factory is so happy and friendly because she just found out she’s pregnant. Our friend is acting distant because we’re a boring married couple and won’t go out to party with him anymore. He’s just waiting for a good excuse to leave our house and go out with our single friends.
Of course, these stories usually have nothing to do with the reality of the situation.
In fact, we play a game where we watch random people in public and make up their life stories.
I would like to very immodestly and un-humbly say that I like to think I’m not very judgmental and usually see the best in people. But, when I think about the stories I make up about why people do what they do, I have to admit that I often assume the worst.
Think about the stories your mind makes up about why people do what they do. Do they usually assume people mean well and are doing the best they can, or do they assume the worst about people?
When you make up a story about how someone has good or bad intentions, it will affect how you act toward that person.
If you assume bad intentions about your partner’s actions, you may end up in a situation like Carol. Assuming ulterior motives and bad intentions creates an overall bad vibe between you and your partner.
Better Your Relationship and Avoid Misunderstandings
No matter what happens, we all make the best choice available to us in the moment. All of our choices and actions have at some point, or in some context, helped us deal with day to day life even if it now seems self-destructive.
If you want to better your relationship and create an overall vibe of good will, start to give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Even if your partner has done you wrong in the past, it helps to assume good intentions behind his or her behavior going forward. This doesn’t mean you have to like your partner’s behavior. You can even tell your partner that you don’t like his or her choices.
When you assume people have a good reason for their actions, you can talk about their choices with a loving, caring yet assertive attitude.
Better your relationship by assuming your partner has a Good Reason:
- Remember that your partner does have a good reason for his or her actions no matter what they are.
- Ask yourself “What possible reasons would a sane person who cares for me have to act this way?”
- Make up a couple of good reasons for your partner’s actions.
- Talk to your partner about what he or she does that your upset by, without assuming bad intentions.
- Have a loving, caring yet assertive attitude even while disagreeing with your partner’s actions.
Say Yes to Love,