Most people are familiar with the adage “assumptions make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me.’” Which is to say, if we “assume” someone is doing something or has done something, in the absence of verifying, potentially, both people end up looking like “asses,” especially if what was assumed to be done, wasn’t.
But, we do it all the time.
This epic failure in communication is taken to a whole new level with married people. The problem lies in the fact that the longer we are with someone, the more we know them, the more they know us, which gives us a false sense of security in the fact that they “KNOW” what we like, dislike and need. And because of this gross assumption, instead of asking for what we want or need from a spouse, we “assume” that they remember from the last 10 years (or however long ago your story began) what we like, dislike or need.
But they don’t.
Why?! Why don’t they know?! This is not a new thing! None of it is new.
You have hated Brussel sprouts since infancy. Your need for no interruptions during your favorite show is not a new request. You have always hated anything less than 400 thread count, 100% cotton sheets since you have known there was a difference! A cashmere sweater?! You have been allergic to wool since you had skin, no matter how fancy. And when have you ever worn the color chartreuse, ever?! How can the person who knows you better than most, that lives in your home, day in and day out, forget all these very vital details about you?! None of this is new information, not by decades.
(This is where things start to go off the deep end).
Are they really that inconsiderate?! Are they really that stupid?! Could they actually be blind?!
No. Just selfish.
By nature. An unavoidable state of the human condition.
All of us.
Did I offend you? Truth is inescapable. I know because I do this, too. I am human, just like you (unless of course you’re not, but that would be really weird).
Here’s the deal. In reality, if we are not engaged in a conversation with someone or a thoughtful activity—we are thinking of ourselves. Perhaps not adoringly staring at ourselves in a mirror like Narcissus, but in any quiet moment, way more often than not, you are thinking about you, your world, your day, your hair, your car, your kids, your time, your parents, your spouse, you, your, you, your. All things come back to you, you, you…(and me, to me).
It’s our default mode, like a screen saver when you are not using an application. When we are not directly engaged in conversation or thoughtful activity, our “screen saver” is Me.
Me, me, me, me, me. All about us.
Think I’m full of it? Pay attention for a minute or two next time things get quiet. You will undoubtedly think of you, your world, your car, your kids, your pets, your body, your parents, your décor, your hobby, your, you, your, you.
Do you consider yourself to be altruistic and highly thoughtful person, instinctively considerate of others? Are you a self acclaimed martyr of selflessness, always relating to others, giving, helping, loving, rescuing, fixing? Let’s face it Saint Sacrifice, even your thoughts are filled with how you are going to single-handedly save the world. You.
It’s just what we do. There is no outrunning this one.
Well, as you could imagine this can reek major havoc in a relationship, particularly a marriage. And boy, does it!
Instead of actually telling a spouse what we need or want, we leave it to: THE OBVIOUS, THE COURTEOUS or we ASSUME that they know, remember and recall everything that we’ve ever said, asked for, liked, disliked or needed…in the entire history of the relationship. Ever.
Are you starting see the pitfall of this mode of communication—rather, not communicating?
This self-sabotaging form of not communicating is as common as the human cold and is as perilous as Ebola. When it comes to loving relationships and long-lasting, satisfying marriages if you rely on the obvious, the courteous, and assumptions, buckle up, because things are (if they aren’t already) going to get uh-gly.
Communication is paramount!! That much is obvious, right? If a couple can’t communicate they are going to have issues. They do have issues, lots of them! This is the crux of obvious, courteous and assumptions. There are no words.
Read that again…no words. There are no words articulated when we rely on the obvious, the courteous and any and all assumptions. Just thoughts, intentions, expectations, and high hopes—no volume, no words. No-thing.
- If we don’t say words, no one can hear us.
- If we don’t say words, no one is going to know what we want.
- If we don’t say words, no one is going to know what we need.
- If we don’t say words, how in the world can we honestly expect other selfish people to know what we want, need, like, dislike—IF WE DON’T TELL THEM?!
Newsflash: ESP has not been demonstrated, scientifically, to be possible. Does. Not. Exist. I don’t care how long you have been married, or how many sentences you can complete of your spouses rants, or how well you think you know your spouse’s desires, hopes, dreams, or habits. No one can read minds. No. One.
If we fail to let people know what we want, need, like, dislike, etc., they cannot possibly know.
If you fail to adequately, clearly, kindly and efficiently communicate your needs to another person, guess what? Friend, you are on a road destined for some major frustration and disappointment…and that is only the beginning.
And get this part: All at your own hand.
Check back next week, as I continue this three part series on why OBVIOUS, COURTEOUS and ASSUMPTIONS, truly are the foundation for epic frustration that can lead to the unraveling of marriages and how to avoid those pitfalls from here forward.
Until then, use your mouth—wisely. 🙂