You give your favorite politicians the benefit of the doubt—why not your partner?
The political season is upon us—whether we like it or not—and, if we are like most people, we will tend to favor one political party, candidate, or political view over another. If our party or candidate has a particular stand on the economy, foreign affairs, healthcare, same sex relationships, etc., we believe that they are correct. Whenever our party or candidate takes a position, we tend to support it completely and loudly profess the other point of view as misguided thinking.
Even if our political party or candidate does something questionable, we will find ways to immediately defend them. We will hunt down any reason that our preferred political analysts will conjure up to make what they said or did seem okay. We will say that the other side has made far stupider mistakes, is far less experienced in these important matters, is ethically challenged, or that our party's problems were inherited. We may even exclaim that the political strategy is misunderstood because it's ahead of its time and, therefore, brilliant. We are quick to put our party or candidate in a positive light, assume the best in our party or candidate, and give them the benefit of the doubt. Such is the art and science of the political spin.
How different it is in with our partners! What we normally do with politics is the exact opposite of what we do in our relationships. How far more likely is it for us to be critical, hurt or resentful when our partners do something we dislike. We walk around thinking about what our partner did and what was wrong about it. We are quick to see him or her in a negative light and put a negative spin on everything they do or say. Imagine how much happier we would be if we can put a political spin on what our partners do in our relationships as quickly as we do with our political party or candidates.
Negative Spin: He doesn't like to share his feelings with me.
Political Spin: He likes to get right to the point as a way to help me. He prefers to show me that he loves me in non-verbal ways.
Negative Spin: He never spends any time with me! He's bored with me.
Political Spin: He is working hard to provide for us. He loves me. I am so appreciative of all he does for us.
Negative Spin: There she goes again—nag, nag, nag.
Political Spin: She is helping me remember and keeping me organized so I can focus on other things. She has my back.
Negative Spin: She's always telling me what to do or say. She doesn't trust me.
Political Spin: She does trust me. It's just her way of being supportive and trying to make things easier for me by sharing information she believes will get good results.
Whatever your partner says or does, put a political spin on it. See their actions or words only in a positive light. When you put your partner only in a positive light, you don't get defensive. You don't get angry. You don't assume they are disrespecting you, that they don't care about you or that they are not interested in you.
Try to listen to and understand them from the belief that "I know my partner loves me, and I know my partner wants the best for me." You will be amazed at how your feelings toward your partner become much more calming and reassuring. When we can put a political spin on what our partner does in a relationship and assume the positive in every act or word, we will have a much better relationship.
Share this information with your partner. Both of you practice the above strategy. Challenge yourselves: How can you turn your partner's negative into a positive? Continue to do this and, on election night, give each other a great victory speech.
Richard Drobnick, LCSW, DCSW is the director of the Mars & Venus Counseling Center. Contact us if you feel stuck and need professional help to create the relationships of your dreams.