I hear a great many assumptions when I talk to people about their marriages. Some of the assumptions are based on evidence, some are not. Some were valid a decade ago but now are no longer true. Many seem to be more about the feelings and history of the one making the assumption than their spouse. It’s human nature, it’s what we do, and in marriages, we do it on steroids.
I’ve seen some of this in the comments here. Sometimes I point it out, often I let others do so. Challenging someone’s assumptions is a good and loving thing, but it can easily cause all kinds of pain and frustration. It’s far better when we get good at regularly checking our own assumptions.
This is not an easy thing to do, but it’s a skill one can learn. Lovely Lori and I have both gotten much better at this the last few years. Here are a few thoughts that help me challenge my assumptions:
- I’m wrong about something: I have come to accept I’m always wrong about something – usually more than a few somethings. So my job is figuring out where I am wrong.
- I’ve changed: I’m not the same man I was a year ago, or even a week ago. I grow and change, and what I think and feel changes. What I want and need changes, and even what I enjoy changes.
- She’s changed: My wife is not the same women she was when we married, or when we left Washington in September. She’s not even the same as she was a few days ago. Just like me, she is growing and changing. What she thinks and feels has changed, and what she wants, needs, and enjoys has changed.
- Some things are no longer true: Because of the changes in both of us, some things once true are no longer true. What was a fact before is no longer a fact. If I still think it’s a fact I’m confused, and I’m making a wrong assumption.
- My wife is a good willed woman: I know this to be true. If I were unsure I’d choose to believe it to be true until she conclusively proved me wrong. When an assumption clashes with my knowing my wife is good willed, I stop and check my assumption.
- There’s more to it: Assumptions tend to be two-dimensional while life is 3D. What I assume may be accurate, but I may be wrong about why it’s so. Why is important – being grumpy because you’ve not had good sleep in a week isn’t the same as being grumpy for no good reason. The why also tells us if something is likely to be true for a short time or the long-term. It tells us when to hold an assumption at arms length and recheck it often.
- My wife loves me: Sometimes this is a matter of faith. When life is hurried and stressed we don’t always show love as we should. While this is wrong, it does not mean we don’t love. When an assumption doesn’t fit with my knowing my wife loves me, I need to recheck.
As we move from one year to another it’s a good time to check our assumptions. Challenge them, make them prove they’re valid. If in doubt, throw it out! Get rid of the what is obviously wrong and then dig deeper on what’s left. If it’s true, why is it true? Might it change soon? Might it change if you challenge your husband over it? Might is change if you did something differently?
~ Paul – I’m XY and I’ve assumed so many things which were not true.