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I want to understand my husband better

 Psychologist Chris Hart on understanding one's spouse better [Freepik]

Hi Chris,

A lot of the time my husband surprises me. I thought I knew what was going on in his mind, but then he does something that shows that I was wrong. We have even gotten into a few fights where I felt hurt by something he said, but which he insists I got wrong. Why is all that happening? After all, we have lived together for ages and so I should know him well by now, shouldn’t I? And what can I do to understand him better?

Constantly Surprised

Hi Constantly Surprised!

Human beings are pretty good at figuring each other out, and spotting sarcasm, ambiguity, and hidden meanings. This instinct usually works so well that within seconds you have invariably sized up what someone has just said or done pretty accurately. But we do make mistakes!

That is because your brain has already formed a sort of subconscious map of how you expect people to behave, especially someone you know well, like your husband. You interpret what he says or does from your knowledge of his previous preferences, moods and so on.

But these change with time, and maybe you have not been tracking them. Or your circumstances have changed so that what is on your husband’s mind has changed too. So if you react to something he says in the same old way, you are likely to be wrong.

Or maybe part of how you work out what he means is based on stuff from your past. An ex let you down, so if your husband says something like your ex might have said, it triggers you to be suspicious, even though he has no intention of hurting you at all.

  Resist the urge to react too quickly to what your husband says, advises Chris Hart [Freepik]

So resist the urge to react too quickly to what your husband says. And consider the possibility that you have misjudged his words. Instead of assuming he is criticising you, for example, ask yourself whether he is trying to be humorous. Try reacting as if what he says is always the nicest of all the possibilities.

You might be wrong of course, but chances are that he will get into the spirit of your response. Or if it was a barbed comment, try ignoring it completely! Or saying something neutral like, “Okay, I will think about that.” Do that and the moment will probably pass, and be less likely to occur again. Whereas if you rise to the bait, you will just end up in more fights. 

Get the idea? Think about the assumptions you make about what is going on in your husband’s mind because there is always a chance he is not thinking what you think he is. Instead, try reacting as if he is being nice to you, all the time, and your relationship will improve!

All the best,



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