“If you have to re-word, justify, or “clean-up” someone’s words, chances are those words were not OK. Listen to the actual words spoken, not what you think, wish, or convince yourself was meant.” ~LMB
A common habit I see with couples and quite frankly, our world right now is people excusing, changing, or explaining the words of those around them.
In marriages, it might sound like:
- “He didn’t mean that. What he meant was…”
- “She was tired when she said that and wasn’t thinking.”
- “When he said he didn’t love you, he probably meant that you both are in a rut. I’m sure he loves you.”
In the world, it might sound like:
- “He didn’t mean it literally. It was taken out of context.”
- “All politicians lie.”
- “The media is to blame. They’re always trying to make everyone look bad.”
When we change the words that were actually spoken into words we believe were intended, we train ourselves not to see what’s right in front of us. This harms us, both at home and in the world. Similarly, excusing, rationalizing, and defending one person’s bad behavior because others do the same sets new precedence of what is OK and not OK. It’s in your best interest to hold all people engaging in hurtful behavior accountable—regardless of who they are.
Challenge: In your marriage and the world, stop interpreting what people “mean” and simply listen to what they say and do. The truth is, we have no idea why people do and say what they do—only they know that. Stop excusing, and start listening. If you think they mean something other than what they say, then ask them. If their words or actions hurt, then address the hurt. Don’t make a story up about why the behavior wasn’t really what it seems.