Sometimes people develop a negative attitude about their relationship and become convinced that some things are never going well or are always bad. By looking for exceptions to the rule, it can offer you some insight into what has helped in the past. Exceptions show situations where things were not the way they usually are.
For example, a woman may say that she and her husband never agree on financial issues. It would be important for her to ask herself when was a time that they did agree on a money-related issue? It’s likely that at least once in their marriage they agreed on a money-related issue at least one time. Maybe they agreed on which television to purchase last year. Or maybe they agreed on how much money to set aside for their retirement fund. It would be important to note that there have been times that they did agree.
Then it would be helpful to ask, what helped them to get along that time? What made things different in that particular situation? Learning about what was helpful in that situation can show what works and they may be able to apply these principles to other areas of their life as well.
A husband who says, “my wife always argues with me about chores.” He may be able to look at exceptions to this. For instance, perhaps his wife does not argue with him as much in the winter months. He thinks about it and recognizes that she argues more when the weather is better. In thinking about what the reason might be, he realizes that during the summer months, he tends to go fishing and golfing and does not spend nearly as much time helping out around the house. By recognizing this, he and his wife can develop a plan to address this issue.
When you notice yourself using the words “always” and “never” when describing your relationship, it is important to realize there are exceptions to the rule. It is unlikely that something is always or never true one hundred percent of the time. Instead, it is more realistic that you are focusing on this fact and tend to only notice when these things are true. By looking at exceptions, you can gain insight into what is helpful to your marriage.