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Have You Pre-judged Your Mate?


I was so guilty of this when I first married, if I’d grown a wart every time I did it I’d now be covered in them. And, I didn’t realize I was doing it.

Remember how when you were a kid, a look, or a word, or an action from your parents or someone else in your family meant something? Your dad’s look meant you’re in trouble. Your mother’s behavior meant I’m upset with you. Or your grandmother had a special phrase which meant you’d disappointed her.

I entered marriage with a truckload of these. I think most of us do. It can be as simple as the way something is done or said. The way one phrases a sentence. The way one sets the table. Or loads the dishwasher. Or doesn’t, until asked.

Experience is a dependable teacher. Because we’ve experienced any of these before with others, when we experience them or something like them again with our mate, we can be guilty of reacting to what was before, or judging our mate to be the same as whomever, in attitude and motive .

I’ve done it over stupid things and started stupid fights or felt stupid hurts over something that did not mean what I’d learned it to mean.

So, my husband could go out and start the car as we prepared to leave to go somewhere. I thought he was telling me to hurry up. Instead, he was trying to get the AC going and cool the car for me.

Or, my husband could get a certain look on his face. Because I’d learned that expression, or one close to it meant something negative, I reacted negatively, deciding it meant what I’d previously learned it to mean.

We relate what we experience today to what we learned and experienced in the past. We can’t help it. It’s how we humans process.

I’m not saying your experience wasn’t true or that something didn’t happen a particular way. I am saying that a set of events can mean one thing in one situation, and something entirely different in another.

To build a healthy marriage, we have to consciously short-circuit the process of constantly relating our past experience to our mate’s current behavior, and choose not to pre-judge our mate’s behavior and motives. We have to choose not to react to something today in our marriage, based on something that happened before it.

Are there areas in your marriage you overreact? Are there areas in your marriage you simply can’t figure out how to address?

It’s possible you’re pre-judging your mate’s behavior and motives based on your previous experiences rather than your mate’s current actions.

Did your father leave you when you were a child? Maybe you live expecting your mate to leave, and unconsciously punish your mate for that expectation.

Did your mother belittle you with words? Maybe you take offense at every question asked or suggestion your mate makes.

Did someone you respected—a teacher, a pastor, a family member—live a double standard in front of you? Profess one thing, then live another? Maybe you have a hard time trusting your mate and are critical of any behavior you disagree with.

I encourage you: Ask God if you have this habit in any area of your marriage. Ask God to reveal the times you’ve done it, how you did it, where, why, the negative affects of it on your marriage, and where that behavior came from.

You’ll have to forgive the person who offended you. (Yes, this was an offense) Forgiving will break the bond to your past.

Moving forward, you need new habits. Ask God and your mate what your behavior should be.

Your mate is not your father. Not your mother. Not the person who hurt you before, betrayed you before.

Make the effort to break the bonds of the past and leave your past behind. Doing so will enable you to give your mate the benefit of the doubt, and give your marriage a fighting chance.

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