The way people interpret their partner’s actions makes a big difference in the marriage. It’s important to remember that your assumptions aren’t always correct. There may be many other possible conclusions that can be drawn about your spouse’s behaviors. In fact, many people jump to the wrong conclusion. This can lead to people feeling hurt, angry, or saddened.
Take notice of how you interpret your partner’s behaviors. Do you ask for clarification? Do you jump to a conclusion? Misinterpretation often leads to miscommunication. Many arguments and disagreements in a marriage are due to incorrect assumptions.
Alison called her husband Randy while he was helping his brother work on his car. She told him she didn’t feel well. He replied with, “I hope you feel better soon. I’ll see you in a few hours.” Alison had hoped he would come home early to check on her. Yet, she didn’t ask him to do so. In fact, she didn’t tell him how sick she was or how worried she was that it might be something serious. She didn’t ask him to take her to the doctor. Instead, she just hung up the phone feeling hurt and rejected.
Alison assumed, “If he cared about me, he would have came home.” She also assumed she shouldn’t have to “beg” him to take care of her. Instead, she thought, “He should know if I was feeling so poorly that I felt the need to call him, it was because I needed him to come home.”
Randy had no idea that Alison wanted him to come home. He thought she was just calling to check in. In fact, he thought for sure if she needed some help, she would have simply asked and would have been able to tell him what she needed.
Assumptions such as Alison’s take place all the time. People often think their partner should just know what they mean and should understand their needs. Then, if their partner doesn’t meet those needs, they assume their spouse doesn’t care.
People also make assumptions about their spouse’s feelings. They presume that they know how their spouse feels about a variety of topics. Donald had some assumptions about how he thought his wife felt about his family. He assumed she only cared about her family and never really accepted his family.
Donald and Anita had planned to visit his parents. A few hours before they left, Anita announced she was too tired and she wanted to stay home. Donald assumed that Anita just didn’t want to spend time with his family. He had felt that Anita didn’t really like his family very much and whenever anything like this happened, he assumed it was because Anita disliked his family. He didn’t ask Anita if she were avoiding his family because he thought she would just deny it anyway.
Sometimes when people develop assumptions such as “my spouse doesn’t like my family,” they begin to pay attention to anything that might reinforce this conclusion. For example, Donald monitored Anita’s conversations with his family. Whenever they disagreed about something, he assumed it was because Anita didn’t like his family. Whenever there was any contrary evidence to this, such as Anita complimenting his mother, he assumed she was “just being nice.”
We interpret other people’s behaviors all the time. Because people presume that they know their spouse well, they often make assumptions about all of their spouse’s behaviors. Many people are not even aware of their “assumptions.” Instead, they see the conclusions they draw as truth.
Take a look at some of the conclusions you draw based on your spouse’s behaviors. Then, ask yourself, is there another way to look at this situation? It’s likely that there are other possible explanations.
Tell your spouse what you are thinking. If you need something, ask for it. If you are interpreting your partner’s behaviors, ask for clarification. Don’t allow yourself to jump to conclusions and then suffer in silence.
Tell your partner how you are feeling. If your feelings are hurt, speak up. Don’t allow yourself to grow angry and resentful. Instead, share with your spouse when you are feeling sad, angry, or hurt.
Your spouse is not able to read your mind. And remember that you aren’t likely going to be successful at trying to read your partner’s mind either. In fact, it’s more likely that you’ll unlikely draw incorrect conclusions about your spouse’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors at times.