You know what happens when people assume ... right?
Prior to getting married, you spent a great deal of time talking about many things. As you do you begin to assume the other person knows you well and that he or she will always remember the things you talked about before you got married.
You assume from the get-go that you are on the same page and develop expectations about your life together down to the roles you will each take on and how household chores will be divided up. Then you get married and things begin to unravel — from YOUR perspective.
You wonder, “How does my spouse not know how I think and feel about _________ ? He or she should know what I think or how I am going to feel about certain issues. I shouldn’t have to say what it is all the time.”
This is when things can become difficult. You begin to notice the ways you are similar and the ways in which you approach things differently.
But there is something you can do to make things better. You can stop making assumptions.
Assumptions can destroy your relationship. You may begin to think negatively about your partner because you assume their lack of knowing means they don't love you. When your spouse doesn't respond the way you need them to, that assumption leads you to feel annoyed and hurt.
It's unfair to believe that if you've hinted at something in the past, or even stated something in the past, the other person will fully remember or understand the importance to you. It's also unfair to assume that because you are in a relationship with someone, that person will know you so completely that they will able to give you what you want and need at all the right times. No one can read your mind, no matter how long you have been together.
Marriage brings together two different people to share two separate lives — now and forever. And each person brings into the relationship a unique set of ideas, opinions, expectations and ways of doing things. Even if you have a good idea of how the other person will react or respond in a given situation, you can never know for sure until you actually communicate about it verbally.
Here are 7 ways to prevent and overcome making assumptions within your marriage.
1. Communicate often.
That means that you must actually talk to one another face to face. Talking on the telephone, texting, emailing may be alright some of the time, but it is important for your relationship that you spend time talking to each other face-to-face.
2. Learn to listen.
When you catch yourself not hearing what is being said because you are too busy formulating your rebuttal, stop yourself and listen to what your partner is saying. When you think about what you are going to say next, you generally miss much of what your spouse is trying to tell you. Once you learn to stop yourself from thinking about how to defend yourself, you can listen openly to what your spouse is saying.
3. Be honest in your communication with one another.
Speak only about your thoughts and feelings and refrain from blaming your spouse for how you feel.
4. Refrain from saying the words, “You should just know.”
You might try saying, "I thought you knew or understood what I was thinking about this, but I realize we need to talk about these things together."
5. Ask questions.
Don’t assume you understand what was said, or that your spouse understood something you said. Ask each other questions so that you can clarify any potential miscommunication. And remember to apologize if you heard something wrong or made a wrong assumption.
6. Don’t be afraid of disagreements.
It's better to talk and disagree so you can work through things rather than stay angry and believe the other person will know why. You learn to problem solve when you're able to verbally communicate with each other — and more often than not, you'll both be much more satisfied with the results.
7. Voice your expectations out loud.
Your spouse cannot even attempt to know what your expectations are in your relationship so you have to communicate those expectations to your partner. It might be helpful for you to jot your expectations down so that you won’t forget any of them when you talk about them. Remember that no one person can ever meet all your expectations. You also must consider whether or not they are realistic. As you communicate them to one another, each of you needs a chance to you talk about how you might learn to meet those expectations.
People too often make assumptions based on both previous experiences and the unspoken belief that your spouse should be able to read your mind.
To have a healthy, satisfying marriage that continues to grow and mature over time, learn to communicate well and often and avoid making assumptions.
In time, you will have the marriage you always thought you would have.
Dr. Deborah McFadden is a couple’s counselor at Village Counseling Center. Receive your free copy of the Better Life Magazine filled with articles with topics from taking good care of yourself, resolving conflicts in your relationship and discovering how to have success in your life.