Here’s how you Assume Love. Consider doing it every time your spouse does something or fails to do something and you feel anger, resentment, hurt, fear, shame, frustration, or superiority taking hold of your emotions:
- Assume you are completely loved by a wonderful person.
- Attempt to explain how such a person might come to do what just happened.
- If you can think of one or more explanations that might possibly apply to your real life situation, too, decide whether you choose to react to the negative explanation or to one of these positive possibilities.
- If you choose one of the positive ones, check whether it teaches you something new about how your spouse loves you.
Here’s an example…
Matt just arrived home from work at the end of a long day and has an important meeting scheduled for tomorrow. Julie didn’t pick up his suits at the cleaners as she had promised, and he has no other clean suits in his closet. He’s worried about how he’ll manage things in the morning, angry that Julie put him in this position, and stinging with hurt that she apparently chose not to keep her promise to him.
Matt’s ready to lecture her about the importance of this meeting (and unknowingly ruin the mood of a dinner Julie planned as a reminder of their first date). But he stops and asks himself how a good, thoughtful person who loves him completely might have done what Julie did. On his first try, Matt thinks there could have been an emergency that required her to spend hours at the emergency room instead of running errands. But things are calm at home. So he tries for another explanation. Maybe the dry cleaners closed because they had an emergency. Unlikely, but possible.
Perhaps this hypothetical wonderful person who loves him completely didn’t know about the meeting tomorrow or the lack of clean suits. Both could be true for Julie. Maybe she hadn’t understood their agreement to mean the suits would be picked up today. Or perhaps she knew and made a conscious choice to do something other than go to the cleaners, a choice that Matt would have gone along with if only he knew. Matt feels that while it’s possible Julie was just being irresponsible or uncaring, he’s got several other possibilities that are just as likely. The anger subsides. He’s not sure if he feels hurt or not now. He notices the terrific smells coming from the kitchen and smiles at Julie.
“I notice you didn’t get to the cleaners today. Did something else come up?”
Julie answers, “Yes, I got a call from that new restaurant, and they want me to create their menus and ads. It’s a huge job, and I fixed us a wonderful dinner to celebrate. I hope tomorrow’s OK for picking up the suits, because I got back after they closed.”
“Oh, Julie, that’s great! You worked so hard preparing that package you sent them last week. I’m delighted for you,” Matt replies. After they celebrate, he says, “I’ve got a big meeting tomorrow at 11, and I’m going to need one of those suits at the cleaners, but I’ve got to be in the office before the cleaners open. Can you possibly pick them up and bring me the gray pinstripe at the office?”
Julie agrees and begins reading, and Matt silently moves onto the last Assume Love step. He notices that Julie had placed a work opportunity over a promised chore, put effort into celebrating her work success with him, and offered to help him be successful at work tomorrow, even though it would eat up a significant part of her day. It makes him think about Julie’s whole attitude toward work, far more upbeat than his own. Today’s the day he first realizes that Julie approaches her work as a means of loving and caring for him and sees his work as an act of love for her.