I’ve talked the last few days about how our experience with our spouse can cause us to skip steps or assume things. It seems to me that it’s like playing a game of baseball and stepping up to the plate with two strikes and three balls on the score board before taking a single swing. One chance; hit, walk, or out, the end. It would save time to play a game of baseball in which each batter got only one swing, but it’s not a game many would want to play – or watch. Why would you want your marriage to be this way?
Every time you have a discussion, a disagreement, a problem, or a fight, you both take a starting place based on experience. Those starting places may or may not be justified by the past, but either way they limit the possibilities and cripple your changes for a better outcome than you’ve had in the past. It may be a quicker way to get to being upset with each other, but it’s not really something either or you should want.
What if you unilaterally changed? What if you started giving her the benefit of the doubt, even though she had repeatedly proven how she will act? What if you don’t start from the position you know she will take? Would that help, or would it put you at a horrible disadvantage? Would you increase the chance of a better outcome, or would you ensure that you would “lose”?
I can answer that from the other side – as the one who had his bride unilaterally make changes in her starting place. I saw her start to give the benefit of the doubt when she had no sane reason to do so, and I saw her giving me grace I had not earned. I’m willing to bet she did it a number of times before I caught on, and it might have cost her in the short run. However, as I became aware of it, I started to change as well. In fact, I probably started to change even before I was aware what she was doing.
Either of you can choose to escalate any time, no agreement needed from the other person. In the same way, either of you can choose to back down, at any time, and with no agreement needed from the other. Yes, it’s a scary thing to do, and yes, it feels wrong – but the possible rewards are significant. All you have to do is work up the guts to do it.
Image Credit: © James Boardman | Dreamstime.com