If you’re really going to mature as a human being and have a good relationship or marriage, you need to learn some things that no one teaches you in school. First, that you make a lot of incorrect assumptions about your partner, and they’ll ruin your relationship if you don’t learn to stop believing them. Second, that you need to create a budget and have other conversations about money. Third, you will actually need to learn to communicate and have civil conflicts, instead of having a Hollywood-type blowout or the kind of argument your parents used to have.
A is for Assumptions
Unless you’ve known your partner for many years (10 or more), you can’t possibly assume you know what they’re thinking, feeling, or doing. You can only ask them. Even if you’ve known them for 10 years, you can only assume anything about them if they haven’t matured or grown up in that time. So they are absolutely the same as the day you met them, in every way. Highly unlikely eh?
If you want to see the ‘false assumption’ in action, look at reruns of the classic comedy ‘I Love Lucy’ from the late 1950s. If you want to know why you argue with your partner, just take a look at the assumptions you make before you even know what your partner is saying. How many times do you interrupt before they’ve even finished saying something because you assume you know what it is they’re saying? Unless you’re a mind-reader (and you’re NOT), stop making assumptions and start asking non-judgmental, open-ended questions to get more information. THEN have a discussion.
B is for Budget
The most terrifying moment of your life (or of any of my client’s lives) is the moment you sit down and figure out a budget. Even more terrifying, is the couple who came in after 15 years, didn’t know what each other was spending on the bills, and had to open their books to each other. (Actually, that ended up being a totally good move for them but, that’s another story.) How long, though, do you want to drag around all that anxiety about money, from NOT knowing what you’re making and what you’re spending?
The truth is, money and sex are two of the biggest problems in a relationship. So, if you want to stop arguing with your partner or spouse, start being open about how you make and spend money. Sit down with your pay stubs and bills, or easier yet, both open your computer browsers to your bank accounts, and look at what you’re spending together. Include your credit cards. I guarantee that once you get through the fear of the other person controlling your spending, the reward in terms of loss of anxiety and the felt sense of intimate communication, will be worth the few moments of angst.
C is for Communication
Overall, the biggest problem is that people don’t say what they really mean. They say half of it, the half with the least risk. So, if you’re going to take the risk to talk to your partner about something difficult, say EVERYTHING you need to say, not the easy part. Don’t think they can read your mind either (see #1 above), so don’t speak in cryptic, abbreviated, ‘safe’ statements. Be direct and honest but, always err on the side of being kind.