If you're back to find out how I'm doing on that marriage resolution I made (not speaking out negatively to argue or rebuke or accuse my husband--not even once--till the end of the year), I think I've done pretty good so far, though you'd have to ask my husband to be sure. What has surprised me is how many times I have had to bite my tongue (sometimes literally!) to keep from sharing my negative feelings about even little, insignificant things. Fasting is a strange thing; it reveals to us just how often our cravings master us.
One time just yesterday something was said that I wanted to react in defensiveness to, but of course I couldn't without blowing my resolution--and since it's only the first week that would be pretty pathetic. I kept my mouth shut and the moment passed, and we ended up having a great evening instead of the tense and likely unpleasant hours that might have resulted by me spouting my negative response. Hmm, maybe I'm learning something already.
On to week 2! In the meantime, here's a funny true story that actually does involved chainsaws and rosebushes...
My mother has always loved rosebushes. I think perhaps her favorite was a climbing rosebush that grew right outside the kitchen window of my small, childhood home in Jacksonville, Florida. It started out small, but Mom waited as the months passed, excited to see the rosebush slowly but persistently creep up the wall toward the kitchen window.
She was so happy when that rosebush had finally climbed high enough to be seen from the kitchen window.
Mom was pointing it out to a friend as they talked together in the kitchen one day when they heard a whirring sound outside the window. Suddenly, the rosebush was gone. Bewildered, my mom turned to see my dad come into the house, stating proudly, “I trimmed that bush that was getting too big!”
Assumptions. They creep into our thoughts and make a cozy home there, so familiar and reasonable to our own minds that we don’t even realize they are only assumptions until, say, a rosebush comes crashing down, and a husband and wife now have an emotional issue to deal with.
Assumptions can cause problems from the smallest choices, like what’s for dinner, to the life-changing choices, like financing a house or having children.
God designed us so we cannot read other people’s minds, and no one can read our minds (thankfully!). Somehow, however, we end up thinking that people think through our frame of reference, act and react out of the same motivations that we would, and their words mean the same as they would if they were coming from our mouths.
And in my opinion, the place where assumptions cause the most damage is in our marriages.
How can assuming get us into trouble in our marriages?
When we assume, we can decide our spouses are insensitive or unreasonable. “He is so selfish!” “She gets defensive of the littlest things!” We react out of hurt or our own selfishness. They react to us . . . .
And the beat goes on.
The cycle of hurt grows as it continues.
Assumption problems often come from different styles of communication.
We know the typical: men mean what they say and say what they mean. Women communicate with words or silence, gestures or tones, facial expressions or body language. This does not apply in every case of course (don’t assume it does!), but many women read into their husbands non-verbal communication.
The husband may be “shouting” things with his non-verbals that he doesn’t intend or feel at all, while the wife may be “shouting” things with her non-verbals on purpose, but he doesn’t notice them because he is only listening to her words.
Assumptions will cause problems in our conflicts.
Put any man and woman together, and most likely they will face conflict differently. Face them head on. Retreat and hope they go away. Pretend they don’t exist. And any given method comes along with assumptions about the reasons for the other person’s methods, assumptions that are likely wrong.
Why? Because the motives behind your spouse’s actions and words and probably different than what your motives would be had you used the same actions or words.
You might decide your husband slammed the door out of spite and anger, when really his hands were full and he kicked it hard to make sure it shut tight. So he goes on his way, assuming nothing is wrong, and returns to find you fuming about how insensitive and cold-hearted he is!
So how do we keep from allowing assumptions to cause problems?
Tune in Next Friday for Part 2!
Related Posts: The Right to Fight for Myself