How to Stop Assuming the Worst in Relationships
Confusion. Conflict. Pain. All are the product of assuming the worst in relationships. How does assuming wreak such havoc? Because it’s subtle. Assumptions are usually fleeting thoughts kept hidden. As long as we keep our thoughts under the surface, nobody can challenge the assumptions we are making. The result? We view these assumption as facts rather than guesses.
The cost of assuming is very high, yet we practice assuming everyday. I make assumptions about what others are thinking or the meaning behind their words and actions. I have no doubt that others make assumptions about me every day. All the while, the enemy is rubbing his hands together as he accomplishes confusion, conflict and pain. This, is not part of God’s purpose for His people.
Assume is defined as “suppose to be the case without proof”. Similarly, judge means “to make a conclusion about something”. Have you heard the saying, “Innocent until proven guilty”? Making assumptions about the motives of another person is the opposite. It would sound like this… “Guilty until proven innocent”.
Making assumptions about another person is like saying, “Guilty until proven innocent”.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of wrong assumptions? It’s the worst feeling. It’s like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. I would be willing to bet we are on both sides of assuming… Every. Single. Day… So why do we make assumptions? I’ll tell you…
Our brains are actually wired to fill in the gaps. This means, when we don’t have all the information, we draw conclusions. Drawing conclusions means we’re judging. We base conclusions on previous experiences, tangible information and feelings/emotions. This all seems logical, so what’s the problem? We’re drawing conclusions without proof. We’re drawing conclusions without facts. Then we react based on our assumptions. That’s a problem…
The problem with assuming the worst in relationships…
- We aren’t great judges. In fact we’re completely unreliable. Our assumptions are guided by moods, feelings and perception. We are simply not equipped to judge the motives of another person’s heart (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
- God alone is in the position to judge (James 4:12) because He is the only one that truly knows our heart (Hebrews 4:12, Jeremiah 17:9-10). His judgment is reliable because it’s based on truth, not His mood (Romans 2:1-3).
- Remember earlier when I said we make assumptions to fill in missing gaps? Well, that means we’re confused so we’re filling in the gaps by assuming. When we think that all the way through – assumptions really just add to the confusion. Right?!
- We avoid feeling vulnerable by assuming rather than asking. When we hide from feeling vulnerable we’re actually shutting the door to deeper relationships. We’re saying, “I don’t want people to know the real me”. In the long run, that leaves us feeling lonely, unnoticed and unloved.
Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart). ~1 Kings 8:39b
So what is the cost of assuming the worst in relationships?
Our relationships are at stake here. Sure, one wrong assumption isn’t a big deal, but what if it’s a pattern? Wrong assumptions=nobody wins. For example, if I make wrong assumptions about the motives of my husband’s heart we both lose. Why? I walk away feeling hurt and angry. He walks away feeling defeated and frustrated. This pattern of wrong assumptions will break down trust and intimacy fairly quickly.
Why is it hard to assume the best?
When I stand back, I feel silly for not assuming the best. I have far more to lose by assuming the worst in relationships. Yet, in the moment, I don’t make that calculation. I forget to weigh the cost and benefit. Furthermore, the hearts of mankind are accountable to God. So if I have doubts, I need to entrust it to the One who is in the heart changing business…am I choosing to trust or make assumptions?
How do we break these harmful patterns?
- Confess it, shed light on it. As long as it stays covered in the dark it grows and gains power.
- Replace assumptions with questions (out loud). Ask clarifying questions such as, “What did you mean by that?” “Why did you (fill in the blank)?”
- The Bible is pretty clear that judging is part of God’s job description, not mine. So that means it’s sin when I do the judging of other people’s hearts.
When I catch myself making assumptions about another person’s heart, I literally say to myself “that’s not my job”. So, what is our job? I’m glad you asked!
- Love sincerely and deeply (1 Peter 4:8). Wrong assumptions don’t convey love.
- Build one another up (Ephesians 4:29). Wrongly assuming another’s intentions, tears them down.
- Give your fears, doubts and concerns to God (1 Thessalonians 5:18, Philippians 4:6-7).
- Assume the best of others (Philippians 2:4, 4:8).
Assuming the Worst in Relationships Wrap-up
Judging the motives of another’s heart doesn’t fall under the umbrella of God’s purpose for us. We’re not equipped for the task. God, alone is in the heart judging business. My job is to love sincerely and deeply, served with a side of grace.
Breaking this destructive pattern begins with awareness, confession and transformation (don’t worry God helps with that part). Next we replace assumptions with clarifying questions. All of this done prayerfully depending on God. Meanwhile, I remember my job description (and it’s not assuming the motives of other people’s hearts).
How are you going to respond next time you’re tempted to assume the motives of another person’s heart?
Thank you for this. ???? Such a good message!
This was amazing, i struggle everyday with assuming my husbands intentions are not pure. I do ask questions but when he responds i do not believe him and that is a hard pattern to break. Reading this gave me hope but i cant help but feel im forever doomed in assuming the worst about him
Hi Racheal, While it is a hard habit to break- it is worth every bit of effort. I would also examine if there might be some trust that needs to be restored. Maybe old wounds that have made it hard to assume the best? Just a thought…
That was beautifully said! Great stuff to remember!! Thank you! ?
Thanks Angie! It was a great lesson for myself!
Very effective info even for men. As a man I know sharing and communicating isn’t our strong set, so assuming becomes our default.
I know for me communication came much later and through trial and error.
I’ve learned being in a relationship that is providing safety, comfort and peace lends us to be more vulnerable as men. When there isn’t judgement and criticism we open up which allows us to not go into default.
For men whom are Christian and set in intimacy with Christ, who has an identity in Christ, this should come much easier. Atleast for me.
Thank you for sharing again.
Thank you for sharing that Robert. Love your transparency and insight. I shared your comment with my husband, who emphatically agreed with your perspective. Also, good input for us as wives to provide an unconditional environment. Thank you!
“I’ve learned being in a relationship that is providing safety, comfort and peace lends us to be more vulnerable as men.”
I will suppose that is true, because I did not experience that in my marriage. I wonder how often my experience is repeated.
Loved this. Need this today. I am in a new relationship with a wonderful Christian woman, who loves me deeply. However, I am constantly assuming her she doesn’t really love me because of a horrible past relationship. I am constantly turning to God. The enemy torments me hourly with this. We’ve had some tense conversations about this. I am learning to communicate my fears. It’s hard but the alternative leads to much worse. Pray for me. It’s a daily struggle. Thank you so much.
You’re absolutely right Scot! Communicating fears is hard because it’s so vulnerable, “but the alternative leads to much worse”…very insightful to see the assumptions all the way through. The ability to see the end result helps us in changing our patterns of relating. Hang in there, changing the pattern of assuming the worst takes time and effort. I’ll be praying for you!
If I may comment. I come from a very difficult past as well. I’m 47. 3 divorces, adultery, abusive childhood. Much of my life I struggled with insecurity. My father was an alcoholic, an adulterer , my parents divorced when I was 12. There’s something to be said about generational curses. It took me years even as a Christian to get through the process of sanctifucation.
For me I had to aggressively seek Jesus. Finding a mentor and having a place I could unload my guilt, shame and condemnation was key for me. Being around other Christian brothers whi struggled like I did helped me understand I wasn’t alone. The bible tells me I’m a new version in Christ. That the old things have passed. I searched for my identity in Christ. I understand it’s not where I’ve been, what I’ve done and I’m not the sum of my failures .
I am set apart and created for amazing things. I have a calling. I’ve carried my cross. Which means I have surrendered everything to a soveriegn God. I died of myself. I love to glorify him. A good Christian will understand grace. That were not who we were and because of Jesus … I never have to go back. Today I fall forward toward Christ. I need him to defeat daily the flesh and a the spiritual man of God I was created to be. So, I had to first identify my hurt that caused my brokenness and allowed my past behavior. Then I had to seek my identity in Christ. Who he says I am and what he promises. Then I Got a Godly mentor who lives that. Then I got a support group of men. I went to conferences, men’s groups of all kinds, purity, biblical manhood, bible studies. I got into the trenches and pursued God. There’s healing in God. If a woman can hear my testimony and give me grace and choose to love me, than she is a woman of God and has a strong identity in Christ.
If I’m judged and criticized than I know where she is in your walk. I will pray for you too my brother. Be blessed.
Thank you so much. This blessed me. Can I share it as well?
I’m so glad you found it helpful! Please feel free to share the link!
[…] assuming the worst in #relationships – https://sunshynegray.com/how-to-stop-assuming-the-worst/ […]
[…] fair in marriage is not possible when making assumptions (more on that here). In fact, if you wanna know how to stay calm when fighting with your spouse, don’t start […]
[…] make a lot of assumptions (more on that here). Our brains are wired to fill in the gaps of missing information. As a result, we tend to make […]
Wow, I love the insight and wisdom you share!! This article is so good!! I need to read this, and the related ones, many more times . Thank you so much, Sunshyne, for all the help you offer! I’m gleaning as much as I can. I have several difficult relationships, so I know that many of the problems are on my side. I want to allow God to change what needs to be changed in my heart and life. I am so very thankful for all the material you share!!
Hi Becky, So glad you are finding the articles helpful! It blesses my heart to see God use these materials:) Be sure to sign up for the free material and that will put you on the email list to receive updates on new articles and information.