When your spouse has just struck you or threatened to take a knife to you while you sleep, can you Assume Love? Absolutely. But you want to be very careful not to pretend love. You Assume Love to check whether it’s possible this act could happen if you are still loved.
Sometimes the answer’s no. If there’s no intention to protect you from harm or threat of harm, there’s no love. Love requires that intention. So, you check for intention. Does your spouse apologize or try to repair the relationship? If this isn’t the first time, has your spouse made a real effort at self-control since the last time? Would your spouse protect you from a guest in your home doing the same thing? If not, seek protection from this person immediately.
Most times the answer’s yes. Something interfered with your spouse’s self-control — alcohol, drugs, brain damage, a brain tumors, dementia, or never having learned the skill of managing anger or frustration. The love was there, but your spouse responded to anger or frustration like a two-year-old with an adult’s strength, unable to control his or her actions. Don’t just kiss and make up.
Unless your spouse’s condition is incurable and terminal, like Alzheimer’s, you can’t Assume Love and continue to live together. I believe you must put yourself and any children out of reach until your spouse deals with the cause. Don’t wait until you get seriously hurt or really angry or scared. Do it immediately, with love.
Get away because being available to witness the next loss of self-control will leave you both with memories that will make it much harder, for the rest of your marriage, to see the love that you both feel for each other. Get away because it takes courage to face problems like the ones that lead to abuse, and your spouse will find it harder to procrastinate once you take action. Get away because you can’t fix this for your spouse.
Get away because fear will make you a less loving spouse if you stay. Get away because taking a positive step will help you release your anger over the event. Get away because you can’t Assume Love while you’re assuming your spouse poses a threat. Get away because love is well worth any temporary inconvenience.
Go back when your spouse is sober, straight, under a doctor’s care, or trained in anger management skills. Go back with the knowledge that you have a strong and courageous spouse who wasn’t kidding about loving you.