“…whenever we make assumptions, we’re asking for problems. We make assumptions, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a whole big drama for nothing.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
One of the biggest problems I see in couples’ communication is when one or both partners make assumptions about what the other is thinking or feeling. The assumptions are often based on how one interprets the behavior of the other.
She may spend more time talking to her friend than to him, so he thinks friendship is more important than the relationship. He does not express verbally his feelings of love for her, so she thinks he really does not love her that much. She devotes a lot of time to the children, so he thinks they are more important to her than he is. He spends a lot of time at work so she thinks work is more important than she is.
These kinds of assumptions often are communicated as accusations, rather than sincere questions to check out how the person really feels. If the person argues that the assumption is not true, the reply often is, “Oh yes it is.” Now what we have is one person telling the other how they really think and feel.
This is a huge violation. Think about it. To tell another that we know better than they do what they think-to deny their truth and replace it with our perception absolutely negates the other person. I would go so far as to say it is a form of bullying. The person’s truth is punched down and prevented from ever getting up.
One of the fundamental prerequisites for a good relationship is to really listen to what the other is saying, and to give them the courtesy of checking out a judgment we may be making of them. Couples need to communicate honestly, and to accept the other person’s version of their own thoughts and feelings. That is when real communication starts.