Mind-reading and making assumptions about your partner’s motivations, intentions, and feelings can be enormously destructive. Wow — that was a pretty heavy way to open a blog post, but it’s true. And it’s something we couples do all the time.
It begins with a seemingly harmless decision by one spouse — for example, they choose to play golf with the guys or go on a walk alone. At first, it’s no big deal. But after it happens a few more times, the other spouse interprets it as, “Oh, he (or she) doesn’t want to spend time with me anymore.” The worst part is that none of these feelings are being shared. Next thing you know …
Someone’s feelings are hurt …
The other person has no idea and begins to draw their own conclusions …
Both feel what is happening is every bit as real as the sky is blue …
The cycle repeats over and over until they feel like enemies who have no idea why or how this all really happened!
These beliefs and negative patterns in poor communication hurt. They account for a tremendous amount of the pain and emotional distance in intimate relationships, yet they are so often built on assumptions and fantasies that are simply not real.
“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” — Henry Winkler
Mind-Reading and The Golf Story
Bob and Debbie have been married for 15 years, and one of the things they did before they were married and have done practically every weekend since they got married is to play golf together. Sometimes, they play with other couples, and sometimes they play with another couple of men — but the bottom line is that it is a shared pastime. Well, a couple of years ago, Bob decided that he wanted to go out and play a competitive round with just the guys. At first, Debbie was OK with it. She knew Bob needed time with other friends. But then Bob began playing with the guys more often. Debbie secretly felt hurt by this. They clearly weren’t spending as much time together, and she quickly found herself looking for another hobby.
Meanwhile, Bob didn’t realize he was doing anything wrong. He could tell there was a new distance between him and Debbie, but he wasn’t sure why or how. So one day, he asks her to play. Debbie says, “NO” pretty emphatically and that she will do something else. At first, Bob didn’t think much of it. But then it happened again, and then again. Naturally, he got to thinking that Debbie didn’t want to play golf with him anymore. Ironically, they were both thinking the same thing about each other!
They were mind-reading, thinking that their partner really didn’t want to play golf with them anymore (even though they both really did want to keep playing together).
Mind-Reading Simple Fix
And all the while, the distance between them grew and began to invade other areas of their relationship. Yet wouldn’t it have been so simple and easy for her to tell him she missed playing golf with him, and she would love to do that together? Why didn’t Bob just let her know he wanted her to play golf with him and missed doing that together?
Don’t let this happen to you — improve your communication and avoid mind-reading!
When couples get stuck in a pattern of mind-reading, the negativity between them has no choice but to grow into a painful thorn. More and more of your partner’s behavior is explained by it, and more and more of your behavior is determined by it. And perhaps the most destructive of all patterns becomes the belief that one partner no longer loves the other one.
All we are saying here is don’t mind-read. Open up and share your feelings. Talk about what is running through your mind and give your spouse a chance to explain. You may just find that you’re both wanting the same thing.
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Did we leave anything out? How are you trying to stop mind-reading and making negative assumptions in your marriage? Have you improved your communication as a result? Please send us a quick email and help us keep this conversation going at Mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com.