We’ve all been there. Your partner ignores an emotional need or forgets to do something they said they would do. You can react in one of two ways:
1. You can assume negative intention
You can tell yourself that your partner doesn’t care about you. It’s easy to create an entire narrative about your partner. This is a narrative where your partner comes out looking like an insensitive jerk!
2. The other way to respond is to assume positive intention
In this response you are giving your partner the benefit of the doubt. This response sees through the forgetfulness or mistake.
It focuses on the partner’s heart and the quality of the relationship. Mindlessness, not malice, is the typical reason couples ignore each other’s needs.
Are you assuming the best in your partner? Or are you assuming the worst?
Dr. Rick Hanson writes that we have an innate negativity bias. Years of evolution has trained our brains to scan the environment for threats. According to Hanson, our brains are like superglue for negative experiences.
With this in mind, it’s easy to assume negative intention in your relationship. When your partner forgets to do the dishes, it’s easy to see this as a personal offense. When you’re wanting to connect at night, it’s easy to get hurt when your partner chooses to scroll through Facebook.
Is your first reaction to assume the worst? Is it to take things as a personal offense? If so, you may be letting your negativity bias run wild.
Negativity can lead to bitterness and resentment. Left unchecked, these can result in the dissolution of a relationship.
Giving your partner the benefit of the doubt takes intentional effort. Choosing to interpret a mistake or annoyance as a slip up rather than an offense is not easy.
Giving your partner the benefit of the doubt is to treat them with extra generosity. When I forget to call my wife throughout the day, she could take it one of two ways:
1. If she is assuming negative intent, she could see it as me wanting to hide something.
2. If she is assuming positive intent, she could interpret it as me being busy.
Assuming positive intent is not excusing bad behavior. It is a way of looking through negative experiences into the heart of the relationship. When the relationship is sound and vibrant, it will be easier to assume positive intent.
Therapy Helps Keep Things In Perspective
When the negativity bias is dominant, some couples need help remembering the positive. A couples therapist or marriage counselor can help reframe negative experiences into opportunities to grow. A therapist can work with you to explore the different reasons you tend to assume the negative.
A skilled couples therapist does not take sides but tries to mediate between the couple. Marriage counseling can help you remember the good and beautiful in your relationship.
Begin Marriage Counseling or Couples Therapy at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Serving Couples in Katy, Tx
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Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Serving Katy, Tx & The Houston Area
Below are a few of the other counseling services we provide for teens, families, and young adults in Katy, Tx and Houston:
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About the Author
Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and family therapist. He is a seasoned young adult therapist who has helped many overcome their struggles.
He also is a family systems therapist. He views each individual through that lens and provides therapy for the family system which includes: teen therapy, young adult counseling, family counseling, marriage counseling & couples therapy.
Quique also has a passion for helping teens, young adults, and adults who may be on the Autism Spectrum. He has a talent for connecting with and helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
If you're ready to start your healing journey in marriage counseling or couples therapy, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at email@example.com.