Conflict and Positive Intent

One of the concepts from the business world that transfers well to struggling couples is assuming positive intent. Many times couples come in experiencing gridlock in communications and conflict resolution. They are quick to become defensive and assume their partner is always trying to “win or be right.” After weeks, months or years of functioning this way, the environment becomes very hostile and it can be hard to remember the team commitment once made at the alter. This concept is not a novel one and simply implores giving others the benefit of the doubt. This combined with a little empathy can go a long way. 

The first step in assuming positive intent is to create self-awareness around what it is your partner is doing or saying that is bothersome. Identify the trigger and acknowledge your reactive emotion. Then, step back, and ask yourself, “Is that in my partner’s nature to try to frustrate me?” Then allow yourself to step in their shoes for a moment and see the situation from their perspective. More often than not your partner’s behavior is not an attack on you or your relationship. It is simply self-preservation either emotionally, mentally or physically. Then remind yourself that at their best, your partner has your back and would never intentionally harm you. Overall, extend grace to your partner, acknowledge how they feel, and work towards fostering “we is more important than you or me” in your relationship.