I am a big fan of the Thumbshots website, where you can see how one search engine's site rankings compare with those from another search engine for the same term. Imagine if we had the same thing for our different takes on how loving an act is.
The top row here is Google, the bottom Bing, for a search for sites about a particular keyword. But let us imagine the top is me and the bottom is my husband. And let us pretend the circles are not links to websites, but to actions the two of us would view as more loving (on the left) to less loving (on the right). Thumbshots shows us where there are matches with those blue lines. The red dots are for a particular one I am interested in. Let's say he patted me on the back.
I rank it 59th on my list of nice things to do. It's my 59th favorite way to say thanks or I love you. Now follow the line from my 59th to his list. He ranks it 22nd, which is pretty high on his list.
If I had just served him a special snack, which is 24th on my list, I might find this pat on the back patronizing, a weak, disinterested gesture that made light of my kindness. I might feel hurt, pull away, maybe serve myself more of the snack than I gave him.
But I won't, because I make it a practice to Assume Love, to stop and ask myself whenever I am upset how my loving man might come to do this upsetting thing.
When I Assume Love, I picture something like the Thumbshots display. Look at my number 24, the special snack. It ranks 44th on his list, and he responded with his 22nd ranked gesture, the pat on the back. He was deliberately amplifying the love he felt from me.
Had I stuck out my lower lip, grabbed a bigger snack, and sat on the other side of the sofa from him, he would surely see it as a big rejection. He might even think twice about amplifying my love the next time he has a choice.
Unfortunately, there is no Thumbshots website for our love rankings, like there is for search engine rankings. However, when I Assume Love, I have some information to go by. Any form of physical touch ranks pretty high with him, while gift-giving of all sorts ranks high for me and low for him. I might not see he's amplifying my love, but I can see this is a loving response.
It's good to know what's so far down in your ranking that it's hate, not love. For me, that's pretty much anything another decent person would protect me from if a stranger did it to me. If my husband does any of them, I will move out of his reach.
But such acts are not what end most marriages. Instead, it's not realizing that our rankings tell us very little about what our husband's or wife's acts mean. Look at all those little circles with no match at all in each of our top 50 or 60 rankings. Every one of them is a resentment waiting to happen, if we don't Assume Love.