Assigning motive: a good way to kill a marriage
When your spouse does something wrong, or something you dislike, do you assign motive?
- “She did that because she doesn’t like me.”
- “She wants to hurt/manipulate/punish me.”
- “She must be having an affair.”
- “She is going to divorce me.”
The problem with this is the motive you think is behind her actions may be less than accurate – or dead wrong. Even if you know why she did the same thing in the past (and you probably don’t have as clear an idea as you think) she may not have the same motives and thoughts this time. When we assign motive, we can create in our minds an offence that does not exist. How is she supposed to deal with an offence that exists only in your mind? Even if she knows it’s there, it’s not like she should apologise for something you thought up! Even worse, you may unintentionally push her towards the motive you assume she has. Treat her as if she feels something, and she may actually start to feel it.
Of course it is probably human nature to assign motive; it’s part of what we do to cope with and understand our world. My suggestion is to work at assigning the best possible motive – or at least the least bad motive. See her actions as a result of stress, tiredness, PMS, being overworked, being worried, or not being aware. When you do this you are less offended by what she does, and more sympathetic to her troubles and needs.