When you assume love, you are believing your spouse’s heart is good, and you call forth the love that you know lies inside.
Right thinking leads to right doing. How you think about your marriage will work its way into how you interact with your spouse.
Right thinking about your marriage starts with seeing it through the lens of love.
The Lens of Love
In my walk with God, I continually find that I have a limited understanding of the depth, intensity, and constancy of His love for me. This limitation in my thinking causes me to constantly slip back into trying to earn God’s love and to win his approval. I’m working hard to get something I already have! At other times my limited knowledge of the love of God causes me to be offended in the face of difficulty. When things don’t go how I want them to, I begin to doubt his goodness and his good intentions toward me.
We can tend to do the exact same thing in marriage. Because of our doubts and insecurities about the love of our husband or wife, we either struggle to earn their love or we get offended, perceiving it as a lack of love. Both of these cause tremendous negative fruit in your marriage.
How different would your marriage be if you were totally assured of your spouse’s love? What if you could assume that love was at the center of everything he or she did, despite how it appeared? How would that kind of security change the way you interact with your husband or wife?
When Love Disappoints
Of course, neither you nor your spouse will come close to matching the perfect love that Christ lavishes on us. Sure, that is our goal, but we are human after all. What do you do when love falls short; when your spouse’s love isn’t as unconditional or selfless as you wish it were?
When love disappoints, you have three choices:
- Most often, we become offended, which typically causes you to pull away or get angry.
- We may become insecure and work ever harder to earn their love, hoping that it will also earn their better behavior. When that doesn’t work, we shrink back and shut down.
- The best option is to assume love. When you chose to believe that your husband or wife loves you, despite how it appears on the outside, you can move past the offense more easily and maintain your intimate connection.
Assuming love isn’t easy in the face of disappointment, but it is by far the best alternative.
Unloving or Unloved?
When your husband or wife does something that feels “unloving” to you, it does not necessarily mean that you are “unloved” by him or her. That’s a critical distinction.
In fact, in any marriage that has at least a nominal amount of good will between spouses, love is a reasonable assumption.
But assuming love does not mean that you assume everything your spouse does is motivated by love. Some of the things they do will be motivated by selfishness, pride, ignorance, anger, jealousy, or a whole host of other negative things. However, there is a difference between being subjected to unloving behavior and being unloved. Unfortunately, it is easy, even tempting, to confuse the two.
It’s Not About Faking It
I first heard about the idea of assuming love from the aptly named, blog, Assume Love, written by Patty Newbold. One post, in particular, Don’t Pretend Love, points out another important distinction. She explains that assuming love is not the same as simply pretending love. The difference, she explains, lies in what you really believe.
You Assume Love when you take a second look at what your spouse or life partner does as if you are well-loved.
You Pretend Love when you act as if you’re loved even though you don’t believe it.Patty Newbold, Assume Love
Assuming love means believing that your spouse’s heart is good; flawed, weak, and immature maybe, but ultimately good. Pretending love means faking it, even though you don’t really believe it.
Pretending love doesn’t really help. The fruit of it isn’t going to be much better than being offended or insecure.
Assuming love, even when your spouse does something that hurts you, does not mean you don’t have valid feeling in response. Hurtful behavior hurts. The question is, then, what you choose to do with those feelings.
Assuming love means acknowledging but not yielding to your emotions. That’s not easy, especially if the hurt is deep. Still, if can truly believe that your husband or wife loves you, if you can really know it in the depths of your soul, it can help keep your emotions from getting the better of you. These emotions often will feed us lies.
- “If he can do ___, then he doesn’t love me.”
- “She must not love me or she would have ___.”
- “If he loved me he would never ___”
- “If she loved me she would ___”
Don’t buy the lies. Don’t give them voice. Don’t give over your thought life to them. Instead feed yourself on truth. Realize that unloving behavior does not equate to him or her not loving you. Assume love. Believe love.
If you can get a hold of your emotions and choose to believe love, then you can proceed with fruitful conversation from a very different place.
- “I know you love me, so you would want to know that what you did really caused me pain.”
- “I know you didn’t mean to hurt me, but when you do _____, it’s really hard for me.”
Don’t accuse. Don’t blame. Calmly beckon forth the love you know is inside your spouse.
Make the goal of every difficult conversation to maintain or re-establish your connection rather than proving yourself right.
Assuming love is not living in some phony fantasy land or stuffing down very real pain. No, assuming love is about believing in and calling forth the love you know that lies inside your husband or wife.