Our thoughts have a profound impact on our emotions and behavior. The very thoughts about your partner, whether accurate or not, affect your relationship and personal happiness. Often times, these thoughts are automatic and unconscious as we naturally evaluate our circumstances. A simple misunderstanding can translate into a broad assumption about the kind of person your partner is, or your partner’s feelings toward you. This is what’s referred to as an attribution. An attribution occurs when one person attributes their partner’s behavior to a specific reason. Said differently, it occurs when one perceives the intention behind their spouse’s behavior.
Given that our thoughts occur rapidly and unconsciously influence our emotions, it is important to observe the accuracy of our thoughts and attributions.
Here are some important points:
- There are good thoughts, and there are negative thoughts, and it’s the negative thoughts that are often inaccurate and problematic.
- Assumptions are dangerous. Remember that neither you nor your partner is a mind reader. Your partner’s behavior and underlying intentions are best understood through open conversation.
- Some thoughts may be accurate, but it is important to realize that often when conflict is present, bias can set in and our thoughts can be skewed.
- When couples encounter hardships it may feel as though everything in the relationship is negative – the partner is bad, the partner seems not to do love or intends to cause harm. This can be an example of what’s called seeing through “dark glasses.” Everything feels negative, because it has become difficult to see the positive – the bad thoughts outweigh the positive thoughts.