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Assume Nothing?

Folks often advise us to assume nothing. Take nothing for granted. Keep your mind open. Prepare for every possibility. Don't be disappointed when things don't go the way you think they should go.

Good advice. Except that life would be darn difficult without any assumptions. We'd need to be constantly on guard against danger if we couldn't assume what looks like a chair really is a chair and what nourished us yesterday will nourish us today. And we couldn't assume love.

I believe we all approach our dates and then our spouses with assumptions. If we've seen our parents' marriage dissolve and our siblings' and cousins' marriages go sour, we're
likely to assume marriage carries a huge element of chance and we must protect ourselves. If we've fallen in love with people who then rejected us, we might assume we're not good enough for the terrific person we married and could be rejected over just about anything.

We might manage to let go of the assumption that all decent people put caps on toothpaste and show up on time, but we're not likely to let go of our assumptions about love very easily.

When we intentionally assume love, we counteract harm done to our relationship by our other assumptions. We bring out the love assumption whenever our anger, fear, or sadness over a spouse's actions alerts us that those other assumptions are at work.

Notice that when we assume something will eventually go wrong, we're always on the lookout for what's wrong. And if things are going right, it will take years and years before we can say the assumption's wrong. When we assume love, we're always on the lookout for signs of love. And we'll know immediately if we ever receive unloving behavior proving the assumption wrong.

For example, when we assume there's great danger of being left behind by a loved one, any sign of disinterest from a spouse will cause panic. When we feel that panic rising, we can deliberately assume love and take a second look at what just happened. We'll notice more. We might see what's got our spouse's attention and figure out why it matters right now. We might recognize what we're doing to discourage interest right now. And we'll likely see how to regain interest from our spouse.

If you've got a partner you've recognized as a really good person and that partner has vowed to stick with you through better or worse, don't try to assume nothing. Assume love.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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