Two weeks ago those of us who live along the coast of Florida were preparing for and, in some cases, evacuating to safer places as Hurricane Dorian was churning in the Atlantic Ocean. After the storm passed, I went to the beach near my home to examine the damages. As you can see in the picture there has been quite a bit of beach erosion. A large section of the dunes are gone. I was sad as I remembered the places where the sea turtles had been nesting and laid their eggs. It is also sad when our connection and love are eroded away due to storms that may occur in our lives.
In the next few blog posts we will take a look at some things that can erode away at our relationships. One very subtle yet extremely damaging “storms” we allow to take hold in our marriages is MAKING ASSUMPTIONS. Think about it, have you ever taken the time to notice how often you allow yourself to make judgments or assumptions about your spouse? Here are a few that may have come up for you…
“I cannot believe he did not even notice the trash is full.”
“Things are okay since we are not fighting as much.”
“She is not interested in sex anymore.”
“He knows I appreciate him. I don’t need to tell him all the time.”
“He/she doesn’t care what I think.”
“She knows I love her because I work hard at my job.”
“I know how my spouse is feeling. I’m good at reading them.”
There are several problems that come as a result of making assumptions. First, we think we know what our partner is thinking and feeling. News Flash – we cannot read each other’s minds! We reallydo not know what our spouse is thinking or feeling unless the words come out of their mouth and they share it with us.
Many times where we go next is to look for evidence to confirm our assumption. We work to establish our confirmation bias. It may look something like this…let’s take the assumption that our husband did not notice that the trash is full. Because if he did notice he would have tied it up, taken it out to the trash can, and then put a clean bag in the waste bin. Right? Next our assumption goes to “he is lazy” or “he is selfish.” We begin to notice the empty water bottle still in the living room and that he has not put his clean clothes away and his tools are all over the garage and three pair of his shoes are by the door and…and…and. See how far down the road we are in our assuming and confirming. The reality may be that he didnotice and he is working on another project or finishing doing homework with the children or he thinks there is still more room before he needs to empty it.
Want some solutions? There are some pretty simple ways for us to get our assumptions under control before they do significant damage to the relationship. One answer is to ask questions to learn what our partner is thinking and feeling. After we ask questions then we should practice really listening and trying to understand them. Another proactive solution is to talk with our spouse about our thoughts, feelings, and intentions (on a regular basis) so there is not opportunity for assumptions to arise. One of my favorite sayings is “Knowledge is our friend.” If we are in the know and connected with each other, then assumptions and judgments will decline. When assumptions decline our relationship and marriage has more opportunity for growth, connection, and fulfillment.
Need help sorting through the assumptions troubling your relationship? Take the courageous step to seek help. Call for a free phone consultation.
Carma R. Kuhn, M.Ed., LMHC – 321.251.8344 – firstname.lastname@example.org