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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
Individual, Couple and Family Therapy
Resolving issues from your past that block your future

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January 2010

I was interviewed for a new web site where I was asked what is the number one problem in marriages? With little hesitation I answered, “assumptions!” Because we assume that we know our partners, we assume that we know what they are thinking. Know one thing for sure, if you are assuming, then assume that you are wrong.

We do not know what is happening in someone else’s mind. No matter how close we are, we stand an excellent chance of getting it wrong. Let me share some examples. I know this couple that had been dating for a few months. They were on the way to for him to meet her parents. He was following her in his car and was driving slower than she was. She kept watching him fall behind and kept getting angrier and angrier. Finally she pulled over, got out of the car and confronted him “If you do not want to meet my parents, just say so!” It turns out that he thought she was driving too fast for the traffic conditions. That was the only thing that was bothering him.

Another example is with a couple where he is always working on projects around the house. She assumed that the reason he was doing it because he didn’t want to spend time with her. What was really going on was that he wanted the house to look good because he thought that would make her happy.

When we do not communicate with our partners, we will often fill in the blanks based on our history and experience. We will assume what someone’s motivations are. Be aware, you will normally be wrong when you do that. So, stop. Ask the question, “What does that mean to you when you do that?” Listen to their answer. Do not assume they are lying to you. Act on what they actually tell you, not what you assumed.

Who knows? By asking the questions, you may find out that things are actually much better than you assumed!

Enjoy the journey!

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