In my last blog post, I wrote about leaning in instead of withdrawing if you want to invite that utterly non-judgemental, altruistic, fabulous feeling of love for your spouse to keep visiting you. When your husband or wife behaves in a way you don’t expect a loving person to behave, the best thing you can try is to Assume Love.
Assume Love does not mean surrender. It does not mean ignore your hurt or worried feelings. It certainly does not mean pretend you feel loved when you don’t.
Assume Love means get free of that perfectly normal human reaction to even a hint of threat by thinking through explaining the distressing behavior as if you know for certain you are still loved by a man or woman of the same character you fell in love with.
Don’t act as if. Think as if. Because it’s a good bet that anyone who married you wants to love you. wants to feel that fabulous feeling toward you. And when you allow for the possibility that the threatening signs are misleading, you quiet your normal, human, tunnel vision response to threat, in which you ignore everything else you know about your life partner to search for more information about the threat itself.
After you ask yourself what could possibly cause a good person who loves you to show up late, hastily shove papers in a drawer, raise his voice, forget a birthday gift, let your mother-in-law badmouth you, argue against taking the promotion you worked so hard to earn, fail to wash the laundry, text someone at 3 am for three nights in a row or punch an angry hole in the wall, check the explanation you came up with against what you know about your spouse’s dreams and fears, childhood trauma triggers and quirky pleasures.
“If I knew for absolute certain I’m still loved and respected and safe, what else do I know about my beloved and about life that might possibly explain this event that’s making me fear I’m in danger?”
“Hiding papers from me is scaring me, but if I knew for sure they were being hidden by someone who still loves and cares for me, what else might explain hiding them? Could they be plans or an invitation list for some pleasant thing? A birthday? A holiday? The She Shed I have wanted for so long? A vacation trip? Could they be something we can’t discuss right now but my spouse wants to discuss with me in private? Have I heard hints of a job change or retirement or something for the kids? Are we looking for a home to buy?
You will get very different answers, much more useful answers, if you ask yourself these questions instead of, “What else am I being kept in the dark about?”
If you don’t get an aha that calms your fears about being abandoned, disrespected, or unloved, feel free to return to looking for more information about the danger. Don’t ignore those fears. But most of the time, expect that aha and all the relief that comes with it and draws you two together.
You might even feel that fabulous feeling just minutes or hours after being sure you’re going to walk out on your marriage. I have watched it happen again and again.