The shreds are flying, as they say in German. We often fight the most ruthless with he people closest to us. The stakes are high and the words cut deep. Our emotions take over and the wild west makes know it’s here.

Our perception dictates our actions, and we end up with our hands in the air and our tongues running a sprint. It is only afterward that we get the whole picture. We regret the fight and ask for forgiveness.

But the fight still happened. We still said some crazy things to each other. Couldn’t we have avoided all the pain and sorrow in the first place?

[ninja-popup ID=860]Download this post as pdf[/ninja-popup]

I was just wondering

The other day, my wife Shalyn and I were enjoying a beautiful Saturday morning. The sun was just rising, and the kids were in “focused playing” mode. We sipped our coffees and breathed in the goodness of the weekend.

We started talking about something that bothered me. It seemed to me like a small thing, but Shalyn didn’t want to talk about it. She told me so, but I wouldn’t quit. In my mind, I thought that she wants to control me and make me stop. I didn’t want that to happen and went on and on about the topic.

Needless to say, Shalyn was hurt and our Saturday morning was ruined. I could have avoided this catastrophe if I  would have asked her if I’m right in my assumption that she wants to control me. Sounds simple, but we all know, it isn’t.


How we think

In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman breaks down our internal arguments into two systems.

System one jumps to conclusions without having to engage in any heavy lifting. System two is where we deconstruct a problem and try to work through it, as in calculating the result of 36 x 18.

We would not be able to master life with only engaging into system two. It is hard work to analyze things and often we need fast access to information. System one helps us to go through life without overloading our brain with information. It is the default system we try to apply in as many situations as possible.

System one uses the information it has available and runs with it. The decisions we make are effortless, quick and often without any control of the outcome. Humans are lazy, and system one is great for lazy people.

A disagreement in a relationship can be figured out without applying system two. If the only thing we’re talking about is where we place the dish towel, we should arrive at a solid compromise.

Why doesn’t that sound like reality? Most fights aren’t about the subject at hand. Who cares about the towel if the real issue is that she wants to control his every move of he feels threatened by her push backs?

The case we have built up in our minds is not a carefully constructed analysis of all available possibilities. Rather, we take what we know and connect the dots as best we can. System one does everything for us and only spits out the result.


Justified assumptions

We call this “jumping to conclusions.” We act on our assumptions and accuse our loved ones before we even talked to them. Our actions now feel so justified and our words so righteous. We can confidently behave like this because we are now acting on a lie we firmly believe.

The less we know, the more certain we are in our conviction. We can easily dismiss something because we only see black and white. Unawareness and of the nuances and the various levels of grays simplifies our conclusions. We end up convinced of a lie that seems logical, given what we know about the issue.

Our spouse may be in the wrong. They surely do have their character issues and their blind spots. Yet, if they are in a relationship with us, there is a good chance that they care for us. They don’t act like this only to annoy us, even if we want to believe that in some situation.

We have to understand that we have a flawed thinking. The heart is deceitful above all things. If we are entirely sure of the other person’s wrong, we should take a step back and activate system two.


Moving in the same direction

Love is about knowing the facts. We can only act responsibly if we understand what is going on. Misunderstanding doesn’t save us from hurting the other person.

When we spilled the blood, and the tears flowed freely, only then do we realize we were in the wrong. We apologize and talk it through, but the damage is done. Understanding often comes with regret. Wounds turn to scars and scars remain.

I think the reason we jump to conclusions is selfishness. We feel right, and once we are hurt, nothing can convince us otherwise. We are not committed to our spouse but to ourselves.

Loving our spouse is sharing who we are and loving them as they are. Clear communication is at the top of the list. We need to clarify their reasons for their actions and get on the same page. We need to love them enough to stop and ask questions first.

[ninja-popup ID=860]Download this post as pdf[/ninja-popup]

Free Email Updates
Join my newsletter for a raw perspective on our lives as Christians. Let's stop pretending it's easy. Let's cut the fluff and move beyond fake smiles and Sunday morning church clothes.
I respect your privacy. No SPAM ever. Unsubscribe at any time.


  1. There is truth here. “The less we know the more certain we are in our conviction”.

    I’m baffled by how difficult the simplest of communication required for a solid relationship can be. You’d think we’d take the obvious route and ask what our loved one is thinking or means but, like you said, instead we too often jump to conclusions out of our selfish, prideful, nature only to discover later that we were completely off-base and hurtful by taking offense or being dismisive of what may have been real to them. I praise the Father that he gave me a forgiving wife!

    Your genuine, transparent, style is engaging and relatable. Keep up the good work!

    • Every time I realize that my arguments have no ground, I still have to fight through the pride. I get committed to my points and my convictions. So once I realize I’m wrong, it’s hard sometimes to admit it. But I agree with you, I’m grateful for my wife as well. They love us through our failures, thank God.

      Thanks for the encouragement, Seth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>