When my ex-husband and I were divorcing, after 17 years together, I kept thinking, “How can two people who love each other, have good intentions and good skills still manage to disappoint each other so painfully?” Until recently I was asking myself that question in my second marriage as well.
I realized I needed help. I sought advice from a colleague, did some reading to uncover my problem and used EFT tapping to begin solving it. It turns out the first thing I needed to do was challenge a lot of my own assumptions.
Here is what I discovered:
We all go into marriage with our own set of unspoken assumptions about what we will receive from our spouse. These are assumptions, not agreements; our partner has never promised to provide these things. Our partner, of course, has their own assumptions about what we will give which we never agreed to! Sounds like a set-up for disappointment, doesn’t it?
I assumed that, in my second marriage, we would eat dinners together and spend weekends relaxing together. I thought, “That’s what married couples do.” This was pure assumption. He had never agreed to it. In fact, we had never even discussed it. Also, his job is far more demanding than mine so he has less free time than I do. And his personality is far more introverted than mine, so he doesn’t need as much “together” time as I do.
Due to my assumption I felt entitled to dinners and weekends with my husband. When I feel entitled, I expect to get what I want and get myself very disappointed when the desire goes unmet. When I feel entitled I am more likely to be demanding. When I am being demanding my husband does not enjoy dinners and weekends with me. See the dilemma?
How I Improved My Marriage:
1) I made a list of the assumptions and demands that I was making in the relationship. You will know you are making a demand if the only “right” answer that your partner can give is “yes”. If you are making a true request then you are prepared to gracefully accept a “yes” or a “no”.
2) I wrote next to each one the feelings associated with not getting those desires met and gave it a number from 1-10 indicating how bad it felt. 10 feels the worst. For example: I assumed that we would spend most weekends relaxing together – Disappointed 8, Sad 8, and Angry 9.
3) I used EFT tapping to uncover and release the pain behind these unmet wants, to own the assumptions fully, and to become less demanding. I say “less” because I am still (and probably always will be) a work in progress! Now when my husband is busy I take it less personally, so it is less painful. I can be more flexible, more patient. When I request time together, without demands, he responds more lovingly. There is more sweetness between us.
So, if you would like to improve your relationship consider taking full responsibility for your part of the dynamic and doing some work on it. Perhaps examine your assumptions and heal the pain beneath them.
I would love to help you. Contact me for a FREE 20 minute consult.
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