The problem with Motives

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by Doug Johnson

True story* …

Danielle sat staring at the kitchen floor, too numb to move. Her mother had just spent 30 minutes telling her that she had made the wrong choice of husband and that she should dump him and move on. It was obvious to her that he did not love her daughter. She had been married for 8 years and had a child who was 6 years old.

Danielle loved her husband, but there were things he did that confused even her. She did not understand him and why he did certain things, and the frustration was that she could not seem to find a starting place or some common understanding to be able address things. The difference between her and her mother is that she looked at his heart, not only at his behaviour.

The problem with motives is that we think we can read them accurately. How often do we look at a person’s behaviour and think that we understand their motives?

The problem with motives is that we look at what other people do through the filter of our own “wiring”. We superimpose what our motives would be if we behaved like they did. “Because he did that he obviously doesn’t respect me”. “Because she said that she can’t appreciate me”.

It is not WHAT others do that creates an emotional reaction in us; it is WHY they do it. People can do many things that can aggravate, irritate, annoy and even hurt us, but if we sense that their motives are good we don’t react negatively. If we think their motives are bad, there is nothing they can do that will make us happy.

The problem with motives is that it very difficult to read.

It was not until Danielle attended a LEMON course that the mist cleared and she understood her husband for the first time. Not only that, she understood herself and why she behaved like she did. For the first time she had intelligent basis for discussion. For the first time there was a level of understanding that could take things beyond right and wrong, good and bad. She always sensed that his motives were good, but she now has a far deeper understanding of WHY he behaves like he does.

She still has a long way to go, but she has made a life-changing step in the right direction.


*The names have been changed

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