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It's Important to Avoid Assumptions in Your Relationship

Maude with wigs and booksLast night we were hanging out and sharing about our week when we discovered that we had a brief incident of misunderstanding, occasioned by assumptions and overall lack of communication. It wasn’t a big thing. It might have gone unnoticed, but for the fact that we tend to communicate about most of our inner experiences together.

We were helping to empty the house of a friend who is moving. Maude had gone earlier to help clear out things and take whatever might be interesting. She had taken a few things and spotted some she wanted Phil’s input on.

There were a bunch of wigs in an array of colors and styles. Maude thought they might be fun to play with and pointed them out to Phil. He didn’t seem to react with enthusiasm and she assumed he wasn’t interested, and they moved on to the books. The next day he suggested going back for more books and the wigs. Maude was puzzled and in talking about it, found out he thought she wasn’t interested, and she thought he wasn’t interested, and neither actually spoke what they wanted to the other.

This is a story about lack of clear communication, lack of honesty, lack of clarity. We both made assumptions about what the other person would like and acted accordingly. Bad! That’s codependency in action. There was no conflict involved and we sorted it out, but still, it was a lesson in how even the slightest withholding can go astray.

One way confusion can arise is when you don’t yet have a sense of what you want because you haven’t connected with that feeling yet. At that point, it’s easy to hand the choice over to another person.

Our misunderstanding was a small incident but it got us thinking. Even in the best of relationships, where the partners talk and share, these things can happen. They may seem to be about unimportant things, but this pattern can easily grow to include bigger issues. The habit of not stating clearly and honestly how you feel to your partner can develop into a pattern. If these incidents accumulate, they may cause a build-up that drives a wedge between you.

These are moments when you are not present with your partner. You are in your own mind, with your own story of how they feel and what they think. You are relating to something you have created yourself. It is important in your relationship that you do not make assumptions, no matter how well you know and understand each other.

The route to knowing what you want is to be present and listen to your body. When you know what you want, the next step is to communicate it clearly. In a relationship, that takes trust that your partner will accept your needs and desires simply as part of you.

Hesitancy about sharing honestly what you feel or think could be the breeding ground for estrangement. It behooves you to be aware of these moments and to see if they are unimportant to your overall connection, or whether they reflect some form of withholding, some insecurity with being accepted by your partner.

You don’t want to be a running faucet spewing forth everything that enters your mind, but if there is something that could cause misunderstanding, it’s best to honestly share it. This kind of sharing usually engenders closeness and will further your connection to each other. Openly offering yourself feels good on both sides – to give that kind of intimacy and to receive it.

Surely you’ve had the experience of having been fully open with your partner. Perhaps it was telling all during an argument, or a drunken night, or the intimacy arising from a quiet day together. That is the state to aim for, day in, day out, 24/7. We’re still working on it.

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Successful Relationship Reading Corner

BookshelfThis week, we wrote that it's important to avoid assumptions in your relationship. Here are three good articles about assumptions and their negative effects, and a delightful video to boot.

Making Assumptions RUINS Relationships "Making  assumptions can cause undue stress and drama, as well as destroy our relationships and even prevent us from having the kind of loving relationships we desire. Whether you are searching for someone special, have been dating a few months, or been married for years, you can improve your life and relationships by not making assumptions."

5 Misunderstandings That Will Cause Problems In Your Closest Relationships "While every relationship encounters a misunderstanding from time to time, there are some relationships that are plagued by them. Misunderstandings, simply defined, are when these two people’s perceptions collide. Your partner thinks of the situation in one way, and you see it in another. As a couples therapist, my job is to help couples communicate, and to teach effective strategies on how to navigate through these miscommunications. Here are the five most common reasons couples, or those in relationship, misunderstand each other."

8 Causes of Miscommunication and Misunderstanding "Ever since our ancestors uttered their first grunts, miscommunication has been a part of our daily lives. A customer misreads a policy; a colleague misinterprets a to-do; a couple clashes over a misunderstanding of who was supposed to pick up the kid. One would have thought that miscommunication would drop with the advancement of technology. Alas, this hasn't been the case. We're more connected than ever, yet we seem to stray only further from mutual understanding. The first step is to understand where things are going wrong. Here are eight common causes of miscommunication and misunderstanding."

Lastly, here's a charming video about assumptions. 


Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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