115: Giving the Benefit of the Doubt To Your Spouse

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By Brian Mayer, The Remarried Life with Brian Mayer. Remarriage, and Blended Families. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Brian Mayer talks about giving the benefit of the doubt to your spouse. What exactly does this mean? It means when your spouse does something that is not to your liking, we should work to assume the best in their motives. Of course this doesn’t mean you turn a blind eye toward something that happens over and over again but it means doing our best to believe the best about our spouse. This can often lift our own attitudes and moods about ourselves, our spouse and our relationship. We hope you enjoy today’s message. For more information and additional resources please visit our website at http://www.theremarriedlife.com

Today's Goodies

  • Do you believe the best in your spouse or assume the worst? This is a tricky area for sure but if you are able to spend most of your time believing in the best in your spouse it can often mean a better relationship.
  • No doubt you or your spouse are not perfect and never will be. Unfortunately we often hold our partner sometimes to that standard for various reasons.
  • Sometimes though we have what Sue Johnson the founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy (widely considered the couples therapy with the most favorable outcomes) raw spots. These are areas in our life that have been rubbed to the point of great irritation in our past.
  • So sometimes something our spouse is doing in the present will hit that raw spot and the irritation or pain of it will feel much greater than if it were not there.
  • Ever bite the inside of your cheek. Then hours later do it again? Then the next day do it again. Each time we do it hurts worse and worse and sometimes get us so angered! But let’s take a step back.
  • The pain got worse and our frustration grew but was the second or third or fourth bite any different. Mostly likely you bit with the same force that you did before but now the site is so tender that a similar or even lower force bite actually feels worse.
  • This type of thing is also present in relationships. The same thing happening over and over again such as a spouse getting home late for work without calling is something that on the surface is the same event. But to the person it is “happening” to it feels like an event with greater magnitude each time it happens.
  • This is why it can be easier said than done to be able to give the benefit of the doubt.
  • So what exactly is the benefit of the doubt? It is exactly as it sounds. When there is a doubt in your mind about the motive or reason for something happening, it means erroring on the side of believing in a positive motive. So this would not apply to catching your spouse having an affair. There is no doubt about what happened there so no benefit is needed there.
  • In my own relationship I struggle with lots of issues, but this is one that I generally have been able to practice successfully what I am telling you.
  • So let’s talk about some things that can you get to a place where you can give more of the benefit of the doubt to your spouse.
    • Think about the positive qualities in your spouse. For example, knowing your spouse is genuinely a clean and orderly person may help you give the benefit of the doubt with he/she not folding laundry in a timely manner.
    • Mindfully view each situation on its own. Unfortunately our brains look for patterns and connections because it is a way of making sense or world and this can end up happening in relationships. Resist this temptation because it probably does not mean you are prone to look for the worst.
    • Is anxiety a problem for you generally or in other areas of your life? If this is the case, then this anxiety could be a problem in your relationship. Anxiety can often drive us to lots of “what ifs” and those what ifs are again usually negative.
    • Don’t try to change your spouse. This can often be driven by not giving the benefit of the doubt. If you real motivation of thinking the worst is that you are trying to change them then this can certainly backfire and cause the opposite to happen in your relationship.
    • Forgive often. Forgiveness releases you from anger and your partner from being punished for anything you perceive as a wrongdoing. Sometimes forgiveness cannot and should not happen if there is no safety such as in ongoing abuse or in which your spouse will not give up an affair.
    • Finally, over and above everything trust yourself. While it is good to give the benefit of the doubt, to forgive, and think the best sometimes this is not the best course of action. This is where you should first go to your partner with the issues and if they will not listen then go to a trusted family member and friend who will look objectively at the situation.
  • In most situations it will be good to give the benefit of the doubt to your spouse. The potential for this next marriage to go the distance is greater when you do this but as with anything of course use care and caution.

Resources:

  • None Mentioned

Thanks For Listening!

  • With so many things that take time in our lives, I am more grateful than you know that you took time to listen to this podcast episode.
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As always remember that marriage is not something you have, it is something you do. Talk to you next week unless you are binge listening in the future in which case I will talk to you in about a minute! Take care.

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