Updated: Jun 30
Can we really get our partners to read our minds? Tom discusses good communication, healthy perspectives and a Frasier comedy sketch in our newest video.
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One of the things I find is that we often expect our partner to read our minds, we often expect them to sort of immediately get or understand what it is we're thinking.
Hi, I'm Tom Philp from Stonebridge Couples Therapy. You know, as a child of the 70s and 80s I grew up on sitcoms. I can remember coming home from school, grabbing a snack, sitting down, watching “Happy Days” was one of my favorites. “All in the Family.” There were all kinds of sitcoms that ruled television back in the day.
Now, one of my favorite all-time sitcoms is “Frasier”, probably no surprise to the viewers. If you've never seen “Frasier”, the idea or the premise of the show is this. There's a psychiatrist that comes back to his hometown of Seattle, he's now going to host a radio talk show where he can dispense his wisdom to the callers that call in. “I’m listening” is one of his catchphrases he uses on the show very frequently.
Now, this show used one plot ad nauseum, meaning that oftentimes the whole plot for the entire episode is based on one massive miscommunication. One of my favorite plots or shows rather is when Frasier is trying to get a seat on the opera board and so, he is able to hobnob with some really wealthy well-connected people in the community and he decides to host a soirée at his apartment and at the same time, he's also taken on a butler because one of his dear friends had passed away and so he took in this butler. He's relishing in the idea that he's able to have his own butler.
Well, as you can imagine, one miscommunication after another incurs and he is trying to talk with and schmooze with all these different people he's invited to his particular soirée and the butler starts hush, you know, hurrying out all of these patrons of his apartment and he's stopping them saying, “what are you doing!? what's going on!? Don't do that! I’ve got more schmoozing to do” and what he doesn't know, is that his brother is about to blow up and ruin the entire thing and so, this is very typical of the types of episodes we see, not only in Frasier but really in so many sitcoms.
You know and it got me thinking, this oftentimes is what happens when we struggle to communicate with our partner. One of the things I find is that we often expect our partner to read our minds, we often expect them to sort of immediately get or understand what it is we're thinking. Really, I think our mindset is we ought to go into communication with our partner, assuming that we have to over-explain, assuming that we can't expect our partner to read our mind or get our intention and that oftentimes, that needs to be communicated as well.
You know, I think of an old saying: “first seek to understand then be understood.” I think if we live that out with our partners, with people we communicate every single day, how can I listen a little bit better? how can I listen more intently? and listening is hard work, it is not easy to do, but how can I really understand what my person is saying to me and then I can be understood myself.
When we make the assumption that our partner can just read our mind, oftentimes we end up with the miscommunication. Now, our life isn't quite like a sitcom, we don't usually end up with some, you know, crashed party that happens, but we often do get bogged down and get frustrated in our communications because we didn't take the time to really listen in the first place. So, as I said, listening is hard work. So, here's your challenge: next time you're talking to your partner, stop, slow down and think “what can I really hear that my partner's trying to tell me? How can I really understand the whole context of what they're trying to say and not make any assumptions in what they're trying to communicate?”
Hey, I want you to visit our website, we have got a new e-book there “How to live happily ever after. Goal setting for couples.” We've also got a whole e-book page, so you can go and download several more as well. Whatever you might find, we've got videos on there, so www.stonebridgecouples.com. We'll see you next time, thanks.
- Tom Philp, LPC & CEO
Stonebridge Couples Therapy