Benefit of the doubt

April 20, 2009

in Communication

In my observations of couples, it often seems that they do not extend the benefit of the doubt to one another.  If anything, it often seems that couples go the other way, assuming anything said was meant in the worst, meanest, ugliest way possible.

I suppose it’s tempting to think we know our spouse so well that we know what they intended. But even if you know your bride very well, you might miss it once in a while. Besides, giving the benefit of the doubt seems a wise and kind thing to do – even if you have good reason to not extend that benefit.

Make a choice to give her grace even when you don’t think she deserves it. Such a choice might improve an otherwise bad situation, and your bride might follow your lead and give you grace – even when you don’t deserve it!

2 comments
Eleutheros
Eleutheros

Lucky one asked: "Why is it easier to extend (the benefit of the doubt) to someone we know a little rather than the one we love and live with and share life with?" Because the ones we love and live with have the power to hurt us and that because we love them. The hardest thing a re-sired human, a Believer, has to learn do is to allow themselves to risk being hurt (by giving the benefit of the doubt) because they love. And when they are hurt because of love, which is inevitable, to forgive and attempt to restore the reltationship, in as much as it lies within their power to do so. Just like their Father does. That is why it is easier to give this 'benefit of a doubt' to strangers more than it is to those we love. It's all part and parcel of being a good human- the kind you were created to be.

Lucky one
Lucky one

I love Martin Luther's words in the Small Catechism, explaining the 8th commandment. The commandment is, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." What does this mean? "We are to fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light." In a marriage we especially need to work on explaining/interpreting everything said and done in the "best possible light", the kindest way. It is so easy to let imagined slights build up, to allow words and actions to be blown all out of proportion until they are this huge monster. Then it seems we would rather feed it by finding more instances where I can interpret what was said or done in as negative of a way as possible than give the benefit of the doubt. Thanks for the reminder. Why is it easier to extend the benefit to someone we know a little rather than the one we love and live with and share life with?

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