How many of us really give our partner the benefit of the doubt? Often as a result of many negataive experiences with our partner around certain issues we begin to assume the worst when similar situations arise. This is certainly normal as no one wants to be taken for a fool or be hurt for the umpteenth time. Why shouldn't we protect ourselves? We aren't the ones at fault.
The problem with this approach of guilty until proven innocent is that it is almost guaranteed to cause the opposite of what we want. What we really want is for our partner to be honest with us and stop the particular behavior that we are finding hurtful.
So what can you do?
1) Calm yourself down before confronting your partner. Remind yourself that this is the person who you love and who loves you even though his/her behavior may not support that feeling in the moment.
2) Consider that the particular behavior may be more complicated than you are aware. Your partner may have an addiction, or mental illness or an unconscious or subconscious behavior pattern of which she/he is not fully aware.
3) Take a position of being your partner's best friend rather than prosecutor, judge and jury.
4) Consider that your partner may also be in pain and not have a decent way of expressing it
5) If you want your partner to be honest, you have to be willing to hear his/her point of view even if it sounds like an excuse or an unwillingness to take responsibility for his/her behavior
6) Ask yourself what is my goal in confronting this situation. How will i accomplish it?
If you have a more caring attitude going into your conversation, you will be better able to use some of these phrases as starting points for giving "the benefit of the doubt".
1) "You may have not realized that what you did was hurtful to me."
2) "You may not have remembered that i spoke with you about this before."
3) "I know that what i may be asking may be hard for you to do."
4) "Perhaps i was not clear about this issue in the past,"
5) "I do not believe that you would want to do something hurtful on purpose."
6) "I know that this is a touchy subject which we do not seem to have fully resolved."