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Why Assume Love and Expect Love? For Your Own Happiness

This blog gets cross-posted in my Facebook Notes, where I was asked an interesting question this morning (well, morning for me, afternoon for David, who asked):

Hey Patty, I get Assume Love, but what about expect love. Isn't that the opposite? Assume love is taking the onus on yourself while expect love is waiting for someone else to give it. Or am I reading too much into this?

This is such a great question that it deserves its own blog post. Neither Assume Love nor Expect Love is about your spouse. Both are things you can do for yourself to enjoy being married more.

I recommend you Assume Love whenever you get upset by your mate's behavior. It's not taking the onus on yourself. You do it to regain control over your emotions before they mislead you.

Because whatever happened looked at first glance like something scary, your overly helpful brain will jump into action and make sure you pay attention only to whatever danger you might be in. It will deliberately cause you to ignore a lot of others things you know or could see if your brain didn't smell danger.

Let's say you catch your spouse on the phone whispering, "I'll have to call you back" and quickly hiding the phone. Secretive behavior by your spouse is at first glance pretty scary. Within a split second, your brain chemistry will have you checking over recent events for other signs of an affair. It will have you scrutinizing your mate's face for clues.

If you Assume Love—just choose to believe those wedding promises long enough to check this out and ask yourself why a good, loving person might behave this way—you have a chance of recalling your anniversary or birthday is a week away. Or you two are on your way out, and you blew up at your spouse the last time you went out for continuing a phone call with her sister that made you late.

Assume Love does not ever mean Pretend Love, in which you tell your brain to just shut up about the fear so you avoid offending your mate. If you just Pretend Love, you won't get the relief of discovering everything's actually just fine.

Expect Love is all about your state of mind, too. This person married you. He or she brought a whole bunch of impressive qualities into your life, then promised to continue sharing them through thick and thin. It is perfectly reasonable to expect you will receive lots of love.

Then you make yourself miserable. You make up stories about what package this love will come in. If you're not aware of your stories, they usually begin not with "once upon a time" but with "if you loved me." If you loved me, you wouldn't have spent that money. If you loved me, you'd show up on time. If you loved me, you wouldn't ask me to do that. If you loved me, you would help me with this right now.

Every one of those stories prevents you from seeing the love you are offered. Every one of those stories keeps you tapping your toe, waiting to be loved, when you already are. Every one of them makes your spouse wonder just what it would take to convince you of his or her love—and whether it's still worth trying.

When you Expect Love, you don't put any onus on your spouse. Instead, you remind yourself to quit looking in all the wrong places and blaming your spouse when you find no love there. Showing you love is not a chore. It's one of life's greatest delights. What is unbearable is showing love and getting blame in return. You offer your mate a great gift when you Expect Love, even though you do it to make yourself happier. So Expect Love. Please.

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

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