Relationship Minute: Assume Positive Intent

Do you assume the best in your partner? What assumptions do you make when they do something that happens to ruffle your feathers?

In healthy relationships, partners are not out to “get” each other. However, sometimes, if negative sentiment is starting to creep in, their actions can be interpreted that way.

For example, you said you were going to do the dishes, but time got away from you and your partner ended up doing them instead. Within the context of assuming negativity, they might think you deliberately “forgot” so they would have to do them. You might think that their doing the dishes was a way of communicating, “I’m always cleaning up after you,” and feel defensive.

Or, you could treat each other with care. In that instance, your partner might think, “They’re really busy. I’m sure they just forgot.” Seeing that they did the dishes out of kindness, you might thank them.

Dr. John Gottman says, “Couples often ignore each other’s emotional needs out of mindlessness, not malice.” Accordingly, you and your partner can treat each other with extra generosity by assuming positive intent.

What would happen if you viewed your partner as an ally rather than an adversary?

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.