Alicia closed the door with resignation as she headed down the steps of Max’s house and into the street to go to work last Monday. Later that day she would start looking for an apartment for herself and figure out a way to unravel the financial and social web she had woven with Max for the past two years. She had experienced a series of relationships that had all ended in disappointment and a feeling that she’d never find anyone she could love deeply. Max, and before him two other partners, seemed to be extraordinary and just the right match at first, but the longer they stayed together the more dissatisfied she felt and she left each one feeling angry and betrayed, and now discouraged.
Together we dug around in the issue to figure out what was getting in her way, and ultimately she came to the pervasive assumption that any man she loved needed to be a mechanical wizard, highly intelligent in all fields and in control in all situations. Wow! Impossible. As it turned out, that was her childhood view of her father and she had unwittingly modeled her ideal man on that incomplete persona. Since that’s what she admired she modeled her self-expectations on that too, and judged her partners against those impossible standards, but she hadn’t achieved the impossible and neither could anyone else. Identifying the impossible underlying assumptions allowed her to start defining what would realistically matter to her in a loving relationship. Seeing the incomplete character of her childhood ideal also helped her give herself, and a future partner, space to be imperfectly, lovably human.
When was the last time you got angry about something done by your spouse or partner? Was it really only about her/his action or might it also have reflected some of your own assumptions about how things should be? Are you willing to dive into questioning your own part in how the two of you create a partnership together?
What are some other ways you and your partner might work together to identify areas of your relationship that need work? Are you both willing to talk about them?
Continue the conversation below about your experiences and your thoughts on Underlying Assumptions