Why Assuming Your Partner Can Read Your Mind Might Totally Doom Your Marriage
This article was written by Deborah McFadden, Ph.D., a couple’s counselor at Village Counseling Center, and provided by our partners at Your Tango.
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.
RELATED: I Refuse To Let My Wife's Depression Ruin My Marriage
But it's unfair to believe that if you've hinted at something in the past, or even stated something in the past, that 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 can 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 seven ways to prevent and overcome making assumptions in your marriage:
1. Communicate Often
That means that you must actually talk to one another face to face. Talking on the telephone, texting, or emailing may be alright some of the time, but it is important for your relationship that you spend time talking in person.
RELATED: 4 Ways To Find That Person You Actually WANT To Be Monogamous With
2. Learn to Listen
Stop yourself and listen to what your partner is saying. When you ignore what he's saying to think about what you are going to say next, you miss much of what your spouse is trying to tell you. Once you learn to stop thinking about how to defend yourself, you can listen openly to what your spouse is saying.
3. Be Honest with One Another
Speak only about your thoughts and feelings and refrain from blaming your spouse for how you feel.
RELATED: 50 Love Quotes That Express Exactly What 'I Love You' Really Means
4. Refrain from Saying, “You Should Just Know”
Instead of telling your partner that he should be a mind reader, 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 that 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 interpreted 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
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. But 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 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.