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Relationship 101: The Benefit of the Doubt
{Monrovia Marriage Therapist}

Now that we’re in Lesson 5 of Relationship 101, its time for a Relationship Survey:


You watch your partner accidentally drop your glass of wine on the floor, causing a mess.

You think to yourself:

A. You were so sweet to be bringing me a glass!

B. Seriously? Why do you always break my glasses?

C.  No worries, accidents happen.

If you answered A or C, you may have “Positive Sentiment Override” in your relationship with your spouse.

So, what is Positive Sentiment Override?

Positive Sentiment Override is a scientific term used by Relationship Researcher Dr. John Gottman to describe relationships in which partners give each other the benefit of the doubt. If you have Positive Sentiment Override, you tend to react to neutral actions or comments by your partner (like accidentally dropping a glass) with a neutral or positive response. Your relationship’s foundation of friendship has developed a mutual sense of trust.

If you answered B, you may have “Negative Sentiment Override” in your relationship with your spouse. 

Negative Sentiment Override happens when couples interpret each others neutral behaviors as an attack or criticism. If you find you and your spouse are prone to frequently blaming one another without sufficient cause, you may be experiencing Negative Sentiment Override.

Here’s the good news for relationships with Negative Sentiment Override:

Change is possible.

The key is deepening your friendship with your partner.

Couples who consider their partner to be a good friend tend to offer reciprocal patience, kindness, and respect in their relationship. Because of the significance of friendship in Dr. John Gottman’s 25 years of marriage research, I have included friendship as a theme in each Relationship 101 Lesson so far.  I believe that it is essential to thriving relationships.

If you are ready to work on cultivating a friendship with your spouse, schedule a couples therapy session at Relationships For Better. For those of you who aren’t local to Monrovia or the San Gabriel Valley, find a local psychotherapist and complete Relationship Challenges in Lessons 2, 3, and 4 with your spouse from the comfort of your home!


This week’s Relationship 101 Challenge is designed to help you and your partner foster intentionality in your relationship:

The best part about this week’s Relationship 101 Challenge?

This practice will significantly improve your ability to have effective conflicts!

But, we’ll talk more about that next time…


Thanks for joining me to focus on thriving and relationships!

Take Care,

Megan Lundgren, LMFT

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #50015

P.S.  Do you feel that you and your partner could benefit from relationship counseling or marriage therapy? You don’t have to wait – it is always a good time for a relationship tuneup.  If you live in Monrovia, Arcadia, Covina, Altadena, Pasadena, or other nearby cities, book your first session by clicking on the link below! I look forward to connecting with you soon.


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