Don't Assume

Here are three words that can change your marriage today. “Ask and Listen.”

We need to learn to ask and to listen to each other because one of the most destructive elements in our marriages is the negative power of assumptions. We assume that everything is right between us and our spouse. Or we assume that we understand why things are wrong. We assume that we understand why our spouse might be angry, or sad, or quiet and withdrawn.

But assumptions are self-centered, deeply flawed experiments in mind reading. We think we know what’s going on inside someone else, but that’s only because we see him or her through our own eyes. We project our thought patterns onto another and we assume that he or she thinks and feels the way we think and feel. That’s wrong–and dangerous: bad conclusions lead to useless “solutions.”

There’s a simple way to avoid this mess: just ask, and learn to listen. Then learn to teach your spouse about your needs. It’s up to you to let your spouse know how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. Don’t assume that your spouse is a mindreader, and don’t demand that he or she should become one.