How To Give Your Partner The Benefit Of The Doubt

Learn how fights damage relationships and develop a way to prevent them. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt and embrace vulnerability

Fights damage the relationship in two ways.  The first is the pain of the fight itself.  Your spouse has a key to your heart and that key is what opens you up to the most exquisite feelings of love and safety.  This key is also what opens you up to profound pain.  Simply put, because you love your spouse, their words cut more deeply – both in the positive and in the negative.

The second problem is trickier.  With the pain of each fight, we develop an early warning system.  We don’t want to be hurt and our body thinks that the sooner it can detect a fight the better prepared you’ll be to not get hurt.  Sounds reasonable but there is one catch.  The exact opposite happens.  All this early warning system does is breed mistrust making it far more likely you’ll end up in a fight.  With each fight you become more trigger sensitive to the next one.  As your sensitivity grows so does the likelihood of a fight.  It’s a no one scenario that gets worse with time.  Before you know it, you’re always fighting and in the back of your mind you can’t really figure out why.

The antidote to this problem sounds simple but is emotionally the bravest thing you’ll ever have to do.  When you smell a fight brewing you have to consciously give your partner the benefit of the doubt.  You have to put on the table that you might be smelling a fight that really isn’t going to come.  You have to seriously consider that you’re 100% off the mark and that you’re misreading your spouse.  By pumping the breaks against your better judgement you’ll be avoiding a world of pain.

But, now your vulnerable.  Maybe a fight is coming and you’re unprepared.  How do you defend yourself?  Moving into this feeling of vulnerability is exactly how to deepen your love relationship with your spouse.  You have to open yourself up to the possibility of being hurt while simultaneously trusting your spouse won’t hurt you.  “I’m probably off the mark here but I’m feeling really scared you might be angry with me.  I want you to know I love and respect you.  Can you give me some reassurance that we’ll be OK?”

Yonasan Bender, SW graduated from Hebrew University’s School of Social Work. He has his psychotherapy practice at The Place: The Jerusalem Centre for Emotional Wellbeing. To share your thoughts, experiences, questions, or a different perspective, you can reach Yonasan Bender at 053-808-0435 or email him by clicking HERE. To learn more about him and his work, click HERE.

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