Step 1: Assume the best of your spouse’s intentions toward you
Straight up, assume that your spouse cares for you, and doesn’t mean to hurt you. In my research for The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, this one habit was clearly the most important for those who want a happy marriage.
So, the next time your husband is late for a big dinner (when he knows how important it is) or your wife forgets to take her car in to the shop (when she knows that that means you’ll have to miss the football game to do it yourself), remember this step. It is fine to acknowledge being disappointed. But absolutely stop yourself from thinking “he/she doesn’t care about me.” Instead, remember that because they do care they are not intentionally trying to disappoint you or selfishly exploit you.
By choosing to respond as if the most generous explanation is the true one, you will find that it is suddenly easier to respond well. The choice to believe in your spouse’s goodwill may start out being difficult, but you’ll also find that it quickly becomes natural.