by Jeffrey Levine
I recently got an email from a woman who was responding to my blog posts on expectations and perspectives.
I’ve written a number of times about the idea that our expectations very often drive our experience. And couples who are sincere about improving their communication and their relationship would do well to start here – identifying their beliefs about and expectations of their partners.
She was obviously very frustrated.
The email went something like this: “My husband and I seem to argue about the same things, over and over again. He thinks he has a good point, and gets rather vocal about it, but honestly, he’s so unreliable at times that I just want to give up. And he just doesn’t see it.”
Powerful words. There’s obviously a tremendous amount of pain here.
First, I expressed my empathy for her situation – I’ve been there. And I know how deep her pain goes and how much she wants to find a way out.
And then I explained that she was going to have to let go of her “belief” that her husband is unreliable. She obviously has tons of evidence. But sadly, until she can begin to peel away this belief from how she feels about her husband, their relationship will suffer.
Because as long as she is certain that he is unreliable, she’ll continue to collect evidence that supports it, and unable to see anything that contradicts it.
When I work with couples I suggest the following exercise. If your partner is unwilling, you can begin by doing this exercise on your own.
Ask yourself 2 questions:
– What do I believe about my partner?
– What behaviors do I believe he/she will never change?
Once you begin to get some clarity that these beliefs are yours, and that your partner exists separately from them, your beliefs will stop driving your relationship. You’ll be able to see each situation as unique – and each of you will have an opportunity to improve and grow.
From Sarah – Please check out Jeffrey’s Good Husband Guide!