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Do We Need to Worry?

Our brains are designed to notice what's not as we expected. Why? So we will notice and pay attention to threats in our environment. This business of living in houses with locking doors and heat and a supply of food that keeps for weeks (unless a giant storm comes along and knocks out your power, that is) is all pretty new, and our brains haven't yet caught up.

Living with someone else pretty much guarantees frequent not-what-we-expected events. Our brilliantly designed brains quickly shift into detective mode when they occur. What else is wrong with this picture? What else is out of whack? How bad could this possibly get?

It's as if our brains cannot tell the difference between a stranger who just broke into our home and the person with whom we built it and filled it with love. Or maybe they can, because we wouldn't really be more worried if the stranger said, "Why are we out of orange juice again?" instead of "Good morning, beautiful! What have you got in store for today?"

The worry is natural. It's just not helpful to our marriages. It makes us treat someone who promised to love us and has been doing a pretty good job of just that with even more suspicion than the teenage boy taking our daughter out on a first date.

Unexpected events are usually not the sign of a real threat when they come from a husband, wife, or life partner. Take some time to check them out. It turns out you often know why they are saying what they are saying or doing what they are doing, but you have put it out of your mind to focus on yourself in that very natural moment when your mind jumps on protecting you from a not-what-I-expected on the order of tiger attack or abandoned in the snow. Assume Love and see what you can figure out about the real reason for the unexpected action.


This business of figuring out the reason for an unexpected action can really be a lot of fun. Tammy is impulsive and very energetic which leads to all kinds of unexpected scenarios. So over the years, I have learned to wait before I question or act and go with that detective spirit and then compare my predictions to what she actually does, much like a game.

And suddenly what was once maddening becomes fun and something to look forward to.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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