It was all about the laundry.
I’ll get right to it. My husband, Phil, has always been a great guy, but there was one big issue with his greatness. He was perfectly capable of dropping his dirty clothes in the hamper, which has always been placed conveniently in our closet. But did he ever do this simple thing that he was perfectly capable of doing? Nope. Most of the time, he dropped his dirty clothes right in front of the clothes hamper. Right in front.
At first, I tried to handle it with humor. I conducted a dirty clothes protocol seminar in our closet.
I invited him into the closet with me, where I used exaggerated gestures while standing varying distances from the hamper, all the while counting out loud how many seconds it took me to toss laundry into the basket rather than in front of it. Of course, I also pointed out that even though I cannot see, I rarely missed.
It didn’t work. His pile was always right there in front of the basket.
It bugged me at first until it began to really, really bother me. The reason it got to bothering me so much was not because of his behavior, but because of the meaning I assigned to his behavior — I had some faulty assumptions.
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As a brand new wife, I brought my share of faulty assumptions into our marriage. I had lots of preconceived notions that weren’t based on a right understanding of relationships. Those misguided thoughts grew into unrealistic expectations, and I couldn’t understand why my husband, Phil, didn’t get it! How could he be so insensitive?
If he really valued me, he would pick up his clothes and put them in the hamper.
I thought that if Phil did something I didn’t like, he did it because he didn’t care about me. When he handled things differently than I would have, I thought his priorities were just plain off base!
Now, are good laundry habits important when you share a closet with your spouse? Sure. But, if or when a spouse leaves his or her clothes on the floor, should the other spouse take it as a personal insult, or a secret message, or an offense? No.
I had assigned some faulty assumptions to my husband’s behavior and it created all sorts of misunderstandings!
Oh man, isn’t that just what it’s like to be human?! You assume. You misunderstand. It ruins your day — and potentially, your relationships.
We live by our assumptions, our beliefs about the way things are or should be. We often aren’t even aware of it until we do a little self-examination.
What about you? Got any areas of wrong thinking in your life? Are you acting out of faulty assumptions? Our thoughts and our actions flow from our assumptions. Simply put, our assumptions are the root, and our actions are the fruit.
So, what is your fruit? Are you hypersensitive with other people — as I was with Phil? Do you constantly interpret other people’s words and actions as personal attacks?
The fruit of hypersensitivity grows from the root of pride and an unhealthy degree of self-absorption. We just assume that our way is not only the best way, it is the only way! We assume that everything revolves around us, our desires, our interests — or it should!
Here’s another fruit. When I was in college, I was paralyzed by the notion that nothing I did was good enough — even when I got an A. Do you ever think that way? If your fruit of perfectionism has matured, you may place those same unrealistic demands on the people you love.
The fruit of perfectionism springs from the root of low self-esteem or insecurity. The assumption is that we’re just not good enough and we need to do more and be more to be acceptable.
Some of us have a bushel full of bitter or sour fruit in our lives — and some rotten roots to boot! Changing the fruit is impossible without changing the root. That implies a little digging, doesn’t it?
My friend, it’s up to you to determine the assumptions from which you operate. Are they true? Or are they faulty? If they aren’t true, you need to take an ax to those unhealthy roots. Sometimes we just need to call them what they are: damaging, dangerous, and destructive.
If your root is deep in the soil of your life, tangled and choking you, you may need to get professional help so your fruit will blossom with new life. There are great Christian counselors out there who can help you do some root identification and root removal.
But no matter what, you can choke that root yourself with the Truth. That’s what I’ve done — and still do. I kept confronting the root every time I tasted the fruit.
When I got all hypersensitive or defensive with Phil, it was a clue I needed to check out my root. Was I operating out of a faulty assumption? My answer was usually yes. Phil wasn’t devaluing me in a moment of messiness or forgetfulness. His thoughts weren’t even about me when he dropped a pile of sweaty man clothes on the floor. (I guess I’m glad for that on some level?)
We gain understanding by examining ourselves, trying, learning, and even failing.
Let the light of God’s Word help you see your roots clearly. (Psalm 119:105). Use the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12) to cut off those ugly roots.
We can make our healthy roots strong, fertilizing them with God’s Truth that will produce healthy fruit.
I want the assumptions I make to be based on truth and truth alone, and I know you do, too.
So, let’s know, really know, the truth — God’s Truth. May each of us trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding (or misunderstanding). Let’s acknowledge Him in all our ways and trust that not only will He direct our paths, He will direct our thoughts and lead us into Truth. (Proverbs 3:5,6)
Don’t let wrong thinking or faulty assumptions ruin anything in your life!
Now read this: Two simple ways to make your marriage better
This post originally appeared on JenniferRothschild.com and was republished with permission.
Jennifer Rothschild has written 14 books, including the bestseller Lessons I Learned in the Dark and Me, Myself, and Lies. She’s been featured on Good Morning America and Dr. Phil and is the founder of Fresh Grounded Faith events. Jennifer became blind at age 15 and now helps others live beyond limits.