23 Jan Confirmation Bias: A Brain Game You Never Want to Play in Your Marriage

Confirmation bias is a big deal in relationships, but especially in marriage. I will spare you the more clinical definition of confirmation bias. Simply put, confirmation bias means you find what you are looking for. This happens in marriage when we assign negative feelings to our spouse’s words and actions. For example, Blake says, “She’s so lazy!” If he has decided his wife is lazy, he will only see her napping on the couch and not see her working nine hours a day. Negative thoughts can cause you to act in a way that pushes your wife away.

There was a time in our marriage when my brain was playing the game of confirmation bias. But I had no idea confirmation bias was the cause of our tension—I thought my wife was the cause. Here’s how you can avoid confirmation bias, a brain game you never want to play in your marriage.

The Game I Didn’t Know I Was Playing

After four years of marriage, my wife and I decided together to move from California to Georgia. But when we first got to Georgia, I struggled to adjust. She did not. I have a very distinct memory of mowing the grass and thinking, “She loves everything about this place. We talk like we both made the decision to move here, but I think she just convinced me to get what she wanted. In fact, I think she always gets what she wants. In fact, I think she is manipulative.” My thoughts had determined that the main character in my life was manipulative. Why would I do that to my own wife? Why would I do that to myself? Why would I do that to us?

[pullquote position=”right”]Negative thoughts can cause you to act in a way that pushes your wife away.[/pullquote]

What started out as frustration while mowing my lawn turned into labeling Nancie as manipulative. I am not proud of those thoughts. But they seemed perfectly reasonable at the time. Today, they are painful to write. Maybe you relate. Perhaps you’ve had thoughts about your wife that included labeling her. The truth is that labels are a big deal. They make confirmation bias intentional and laser-focused.

2 Questions to Challenge Confirmation Bias

What evidence do I have to support this assumption?

Had I looked at the evidence to determine if Nancie was manipulative, my case would have immediately crumbled. She spent the first five years of our marriage with me in California. She had left everything in her life to join mine. We spend a few months in Georgia, and she suddenly becomes manipulative. Not a chance!

What evidence contradicts it?

We had countless conversations leading up to the decision to move to Georgia, in all of which I was an equal part. She proved day in and day out that she was there for me and with me. She was and is as uncalculating as they come. What is the negative thing about your wife you believe to be true? Challenge it with the two questions above. You could be right, but I bet you are not as right as you think you are.

Sound off: What is your favorite thing about your wife?

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