Assumptions are often a big problem for relationships. While sometimes they may help us communicate faster, some other times they just create problems, especially when it’s something to do with our loved ones.
For example, a couple is painting their house. The wife wants to paint the house pink. She asks her partner, “What color should we paint the house?” The partner replies, “I don’t care, you choose.” The conversation goes on and on while the other partner asks their spouse, “What color should we paint the house?” Again, the spouse responds, “I really don’t care.” At that moment, both partners start to feel tense. From an outsider’s point of view, this conversation may not seem like a big deal, but there are assumptions on both sides that might come to light if partners just took the time to talk about the source of the tension.
For example, the partner who does not have an opinion regarding the color is assuming that the other partner would choose a color they like. They may also assume that their partner may prefer to decide on their own, which might or might not be true. On the other hand, the other partner might be assuming that the spouse does have an opinion, but they are holding it back for lack of interest or for another reason. At this moment, if the couple does not pay attention, it may not cause a problem, but on the other hand, if these conversations become frequent, they can develop into a pattern that causes more tension and stress. Some couples will recognize the root of their problem and will be able to resolve stressful situations. Other couples will develop negative patterns that involve tense conversations or even avoidant behavior between partners that will cause stress over and over. If you are noticing stressful conversations between you and your partner or wondering why problems aren’t being solved, you should consider relationship coaching.
Assumptions and your relationship.
Assumptions are a type of thinking that can damage relationships. It is one partner’s belief that what they think must be true, without any evidence. As human beings, we make assumptions all the time. When we meet someone new, our first impression of that person is formed based on their appearance. How are they dressed? Do they make eye contact? Are they smiling? It only takes few seconds for us to form these assumptions.
Relationships work the same way. For example, your partner tells you they will be going out with a friend you don’t know. What will your first thought be? If you grew up in a family where partying all night long was a sign of being unfaithful, then you might assume that your partner is not telling you the truth. Even if they haven’t given you any prior reason not to trust them, you may still assume the worst because of your past experiences and the assumptions you created as a result. Now you understand how a perfect relationship can be damaged by assumptions.
In order to take control of your assumptions and prevent them from damaging your relationship, you need to have a deep look at your own thoughts and beliefs. It is important to understand where these beliefs come from. When are they helping or hurting you? What is the evidence that supports these beliefs? What is the evidence against them? Can you look at things in a different way? By answering these questions, you will better understand the assumptions that plague you and the effect they are having on your relationship or marriage.
Now that you are aware of how your beliefs affect your assumptions, you can understand that your partner’s beliefs work in the same way. It is likely that both of you are constantly making assumptions about each other. What seems right to you could just be one of many outcomes of the same situation. Therefore, it is ideal to make a habit of talking with each other to be sure that you are not assuming something incorrectly.
How do assumptions affect you and your partner?
You don’t make a good impression.When you are always busy making assumptions about others, you come off as very defensive, even without meaning to. This impression can keep others away from you, especially your partner, creating a distance that will result in loneliness.
Assumptions can create problems.If you continue to assume what our partner feels or thinks, they will feel judged and insecure and it will create tension and conflict in your relationship.
Assumptions lead to passivity.By assuming that we know everything there is about how our partner thinks, feels, and acts within the relationship, we stop making an effort, take our relationship for granted, and may even walk away from it.
Try these tips for limiting your assumptions and improving your relationship:
- Don’t make a conclusion based on first impressions. Always be open to changing your mind.
- Stop accusing your partner and start questioning your assumptions.
- Be honest about your expectations and be flexible.
- Understand that your partner cannot read your mind. Always be open with your thoughts and discuss with them while respecting your partner’s point of view.
- Listen with empathy and without preconceived notions.
- Stop taking everything personally.
- Remember that your partner has an opinion, too.
- Remember that it is okay to trust your partner.
These assumptions are healthy and can help your relationship:
- We are doing the best we can.
- We can both always do better.
- We both want to do better.
- We both have to try harder to do better.
- Neither of us is responsible for all the problems in our relationship.
Here are a few ways to help you stop jumping to conclusions on your own:
- Check the evidence. The most common method of ending this pattern is to think about the evidence and see if your assumption really matches reality.
- Keep track of your negative thoughts each day.
- Think about times when you created false assumptions and remind yourself of the possibility that assumptions are just your point of you, and that others may look at a situation differently.
Let go of your insecurities and start trusting your partner. Keep in mind that there are alternative ways to reach a goal. Believe in your relationship and believe that your partner wants the best for you. Making assumptions prevents you from seeing others from a neutral point of view. Keeping in mind that assumptions appear from time to time to damage your relationship can help you keep control of your thoughts. Finally, in order to break free from your assumptions, you can work with a relationship coach, who can provide effective techniques to improve the communication in your relationship and steer your mind away from assumptions.
Relationship coaching and assumptions.
Professionals relationship and marriage coaches have the knowledge of psychology and the tools to help individuals discover themselves and understand how beliefs and unconscious thoughts create assumptions and how these are affecting their daily lives. Because of assumptions, many couples struggle to maintain a healthy relationship. Partners are absorbed in assuming what their spouses are thinking or feeling, creating daily misunderstandings and conflicts, also known as the blame game. Relationship coaching is helpful in teaching couples how to break this negative pattern and reduce the blame. Coaches maintain a neutral stance, reinforcing a collaboration between partners, as they create an opportunity to work together to resolve their issues. Relationship coaching teaches couples that there are no absolute rights and wrongs, but different perspectives that should be respected by both partners. Furthermore, coaches observe the assumptions of both partners in the relationship and report back to help them establish a better approach to their issues. They also emphasize couples’ strengths and help partners develop healthy strategies to resolve their problems. This way, they build the foundation of a strong and loving relationship where trust is the main component, without the need for anyone to assume or jump to conclusions.
With age, most long-term couples develop unique ways of communicating. Eye contact across the room can tell a partner that it is time to go to bed. A raised eyebrow can communicate a thousand words from a sober partner to a drunk partner. This type of communication is useful only in healthy relationships that are based on trust. When there are challenges, especially in new relationships, assumptions like these may create distress. Assumptions are the opposite of communication; they turn us into critics and cause confusion and tension. The only way to keep any relationships healthy is for partners to regularly communicate what they are thinking before a situation gets out of control and damage is done. If you and your partner are struggling to acknowledge responsibilities or cannot break the habit of assuming what each other thinks and feels, it is time to seek a relationship coach. Relationship coaching will teach both of you how to communicate constructively and how to build a healthy and loving relationship for years to come.
Field, L. (1995). The Self-Esteem Workbook. An Interactive Approach to Changing Your Life. Brisbane: Element Books Limited
Möller, A.T., Rabe, H.M. & Nortje, C. Dysfunctional Beliefs and Marital Conflict in Distressed and Non-Distressed Married Individuals. Journal of Rational-Emotive &; Cognitive-Behavior Therapy 19, 259–270 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1012565031864