“I can’t get ahold of my wife. I think she is cheating on me.”
“He says he just wants some alone time. I don’t think he loves me anymore.”
A relationship that is plagued with negative interpretation is on the path to certain destruction. Negative interpretation is one of the major warning signs (along with escalation, withdrawal, and invalidation) which predict whether or not a couple’s relationship will likely end in divorce. When we are in the habit of negative interpretation we assume that there is some dark purpose behind everything that our spouse says, does or fails to do. We automatically assume the worst case scenario. These assumptions are usually based on no evidence at all.
“You don’t like my parents.”
“You do that on purpose, just to upset me.”
In their best-selling book Fighting for your Marriage
,the authors explain that “negative interpretations are good examples of mind reading. Mind reading occurs when you assume you know what your partner is thinking or why he or she did something.” When you always assume the worst about your spouse, do not expect to have a decent conversation … ever.
We all want to feel loved and appreciated. Thinking negatively about your spouse will create feelings that drive you apart. Learning how to avoid negative interpretation will help bring a greater measure of peace to your relationship. Here are a few ideas that might help eliminate negative interpretation from your marriage:
Assume the best
If you are going to mind read, do it in a positive way. Trust your spouse enough to assume the best. Try to come up with a list of positive things that your spouse may be thinking. If he doesn’t seem excited to go to your parents’ house for the holidays perhaps it’s because he has been planning something special for you.
You and your spouse are on the same team. Envision a beautiful and happy marriage. Think about and look forward to experiences that you will share that will bring you closer together. Remember all of the good times and the memories that you have already created with each other. Your optimism will leave no room for negative interpretation in your mind.
The best way to find out what your spouse is thinking is by asking. Never assume what his motives are. If you are curious why your spouse said or did something, ask. He will be happy to explain his reasoning. As you set the stage for communication, do so in a respectful and peaceful way. Always begin with the positive things in your relationship and avoid any accusing speech.
If you find yourself falling into this mind reading trap of negative interpretation, remember your A, B, C’s. Assume the best, Be optimistic and Communicate with each other. Knowing about and being able to recognize the destructive habit of mind reading will help you to combat it. Learn to avoid each of the danger signs that lead to divorce and you will find that peace in your marriage that will bring great joy to your life.