The #1 help for marriage? Assume the best in your partner–Guest Post

This is a Power of Two guest post by Lori Lowe, a blogger providing help for marriage at MarriageGems.com and author of FIRST KISS TO LASTING BLISS: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage due out Dec. 8th at http://www.loridlowe.com/firstkissbook.html. This book chronicles the journey of multiple couples as they struggle, find joy, and grow their marriages.

After the death of their infant son, John and Kathy Eubanks were more than devastated. The parents weren’t even comforted with a complete explanation for his condition, which led to multiple organ failure. Because of this lack of information, they weren’t sure if they could or should have other children. The lactating mom, Kathy, was hormonal and extremely emotional. John soon returned to work where he saw little sympathy from coworkers, many of whom didn’t even acknowledge his loss.

Their marriage became strained. Kathy stopped sleeping at night and suffered from depression. John stopped attempting to comfort her. They grieved separately and took turns turning to alcohol to numb their pain. They lacked compassion for the other’s feelings. They ate dinner in silence.
Nine months later, John returned home to Kathy crying again and said, “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.” He says he meant that it was very hard to see her suffering. However, Kathy interpreted his comment to mean, “If you don’t get happy, I will leave.” She was convinced divorce was imminent because of her assumption.
The Eubanks are one of twelve couples whose stories are featured in my new book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. All the couples face various tests and decisions, and all of them find help for marriage and a happy ending. The Eubanks’ case may be unusual for its level of despair, but the misunderstanding itself is all too common in marriage.
How often do you hear your spouse say something and assume a meaning that wasn’t intended? It happens to my husband and me frequently. As we unravel a dispute, I’ll tell him what my understanding was, and he’ll say, “How did you get that? That’s not what I said.” The truth is that even as married couples who think we know each other enough to read one another’s minds, we cannot.
Power of Two calls this confusion of what-I-think-you-think, and visa versa, “Spaghetti Talk.” To avoid misunderstandings, talk only about yourself. Ask clarifying questions when necessary. For example, “I thought you said x, what did you say?” Each person can clearly state their feelings, and usually this leads to a common understanding. I know it is a helpful process for me.
And it’s exactly how the Eubanks family ended their misunderstanding. One day Kathy confronted her husband and asked, “Are you planning to divorce me?” (Remember that was her assumption due to his earlier statement.) John was taken by surprise and said, “No way.” It led to a breakthrough discussion where they shared their feelings and made a commitment to grieve together and to be unified in their suffering. And eventually it helped them get past their grief together. Their son, J.D., would be 18 years old today, and they know he would not have wanted their marriage to end because of his death.
There is much more to their story, including Kathy’s scary past marriage to an abusive husband, and their happy future with other children. Today, they feel their marriage is “100 times stronger” due to the fact that they weathered that storm together.
How are you misunderstanding your spouse in your communications—both big and small? Are you assuming the best in your spouse? Are you giving him or her the benefit of the doubt that their intentions are positive? Be sure to untangle the “spaghetti talk” and clarify your understanding when you are having a disagreement.
If you’d like to learn more about the Eubanks family’s journey to a great marriage, you can also read about 11 other remarkable couples who overcame many challenges, including infidelity, drug abuse, military separation, stranger rape, infertility, opposing religions, financial crises, depression, cancer, brain injury and much more. Their powerful stories can help you see your marriage with a new perspective and gain lessons and insights through their experiences. Whether you have a strong marriage and would just like to maintain and grow your relationship, or whether you are working through a difficult time, these stories have the power to change your attitudes, and change your marriage for the better.
Connect with Lori or get more information about FIRST KISS TO LASTING BLISS: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage at http://www.loridlowe.com/firstkissbook.html or at www.Facebook.com/LastingBliss. You can find hundreds of research-based help for marriage tips at MarriageGems.
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