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Easier than Mind Reading

Last week I spoke with a newly married couple in their mid twenties, Valerie and Nick, who happen to be expecting their first child. Having just returned from Iraq, Nick is currently unemployed.  The more we talked it became obvious to me how much they genuinely cared for one another and just how frustrated they had become with one another.

As newly weds that did not live together before marriage, they’d been having countless arguments about house cleaning; what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and who will do what. This a pretty common issue when any two people start living together, but is often more complicated when it’s a romantic partnership.

At one point Valerie became tearful and said ” when I come home from working all day and see dirty dishes in the sink and the house all a mess… it makes me think you just don’t care!”

Nick got a puzzled expression on his face, like he wasn’t really sure he had heard her correctly. He replied ” If you want me to do something, just ask. All you have to do is ask and I’ll do it. When you come home and start barking orders at me, or asking me 20 questions about what I did all day, or walk around slamming doors; it just makes me want to fight back.”

A slow smile came across Valerie’s face, ” Yeah, you are really good about doing things with I ask. I guess I never thought of that… silly as it sounds.”

Sometimes when we go about our busy days we can forget the basics of communication. When you want the dishwasher emptied, ask. If the trash needs to go our, ask. If you need help cleaning the house, ask. Although this sounds really simple, it is usually one of the last tactics people use. All too often we get trapped in our own heads thinking ” He knows the trash needs to go out, it’s overflowing.” or ” If she leaves her anymore dirty dishes in the sink, I’m gonna lose it.”  And from there we move on to why this just confirms that he/she is lazy/unappreciative/sloppy/ etc., just like we knew.

When we step back and take a more objective look; different people have different values around things. And part of forming a healthy marriage is recognizing our differences, acknowledging them to one another, and ultimately asking for what we want.

From time to time I see couples where one partner believes that the other partner “should just know.” “I shouldn’t have to ask you to take out the trash, because if you really cared, you’d just do it without me having to ask.” This is a myth. Even the best suited and happiest partners are not mind readers. For more detailed information about this check out Terrance Real’s New Rules for Marriage.

So next time you feel overwhelmed or alone in your relationship on an issues….just ask for help. It’s a risk, it means putting yourself out there, but its the only way to get what you really want.  It gives your partner the chance to disprove all of those negative thoughts you had about him or her (lazy, uncaring, etc.). And it is way easier and faster than hoping that eventually your partner will be able to read your mind and know what you want help with.







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