by Shaunti Feldhahn, best-selling author of The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages
In struggling marriages, hurt spouses routinely but subconsciously assumed that the offending party didn’t really care about them. The unseen internal assumption was something like “He knew how that would make me feel —and he did it anyway.”
In other words, although they may not have consciously thought about it in this way, they were assuming their spouse intended to hurt them. They were, in fact, assuming the worst of their spouse’s intentions.
Not so in highly happy marriages. Even when hurting spouses couldn’t completely explain what had happened, they resolutely assumed that their mates cared about them and had no intention of hurting them to begin with.
The internal assumption of these Yes! spouses was something like “He must not have known how that would make me feel, or he wouldn’t have done it.”
The highly happy spouses still experienced the painful feelings—sometimes quite intensely. But they refused to believe the pain was intended. This made it easier to let the pain go rather than hold on to it.
In other words, they forced themselves to not believe the worst motivation—and to believe the best instead. To sum up our surprising secret, when highly happy spouses are legitimately hurt, they refuse to believe that their mate intended to hurt them, and they look for the most generous explanation instead.