A few months ago, I was getting ready to head out the door to go to an appointment as my husband Jeremy came home from work.
It had been a long day, and I was pretty tired. I made sure that dinner was prepped and the kids’ jammies were laid out so that Jeremy’s transition home would go a little smoother. I was getting ready to walk out the door when Jeremy called after me, “Hey Hon, do you know what this sticky spot on the floor is?”
I was immediately filled with anger and annoyance. I didn’t answer him and left, slamming the door behind me.
Why the heck would he ask me that?! We’ve got three kids under five. When isn’t there a sticky spot on the floor? Doesn’t he know how much effort I put into running this house!? He doesn’t think I did enough today?! He thinks he would do better than me at keeping the house clean?!
I allowed these negative thoughts towards my husband to influence my interactions with him for the next few days by giving him the cold shoulder.
Eventually, I brought this situation up with Jeremy. I asked him why he brought up the spot on the floor. I expressed to him how I felt angry, hurt, and belittled. How I felt like he was criticizing the fact that I was not on top of all things at all times in our home.
He was genuinely a bit confused and answered, “Uh … because I wanted to know what kind of liquid it was so if it got spilled anywhere else I could clean it up properly?”
His reply made me realize something. I know my husband, and if he sees a problem his first instinct is to analyze it in order to solve it. That’s just how his brain works. His answer did not surprise me, or at least it shouldn’t have. What actually surprised me was how quick I was to assume he was criticizing me and passing judgment when I KNEW that is not what he was trying to do.
For me, “assume the best” means taking a breath, setting aside my initial judgment of another person’s actions, and considering another possible explanation.
So when we are in a conversation, I try to listen to what he is actually saying instead of reacting to my interpretations of what he said. When I feel my response rising and I assume I know where the conversation is going, I take a breath and try my best to let it go.
When I don’t understand something he does or says, or when I feel hurt, I am learning check the facts with him before drawing conclusions. “Is this what you meant when you did/ said this?” Often, what I heard is not what he meant at all!
In any relationship, there are inevitably going to be misunderstandings on both ends. My husband and I are no different. The more I “assume the best,” the more quickly my hasty judgement of what my husband says or does fall away, and I am able to see the love and good intentions that are actually motivating him. It is making all the difference in our marriage.