One of the most common problems that I see when working with couples is the game of assumptions. This is when people infer based on previous behavior what the other is thinking and feeling. No space is left for something new. The assumer feels defensive and self-protective and the “assumee” feels shut out and not seen. The more rooted a couple becomes in assumptions, the more predictable the interactions. Scripts replace spontaneity.
When assumptions become the norm in most interactions, both members of the couple end up feeling emotionally deprived and victimized. When they show up in my office, they are fighting about everything. You can feel the chill in the air.
The goal in the beginning of the therapy is to break this vicious cycle of assumptions and to create enough safety via validating both partners’ hurt so that an environment of sharing and healing can be created. Couples can become aware of their assumptions and the impact they have on each other. They can be taught to listen in a new way. When this happens it feels as if arid ground has been fertilized and new life can grow.
If you feel like you are caught in this pattern with your partner, it is really worth seeking help and doing something about it. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
David B Younger, PhD, CGP, PC