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Question of perception? (WS and BS welcome)

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CantLoseHope posted 3/7/2014 12:22 PM

I have read a lot of things when it comes to marriage advice about "communication"
Granted there are many couples who do have this problem, or individuals who do have trouble communicating.
BUT what about those of us who seem to be able to communicate very well to our spouse? What I mean by "very well" is that we are saying out loud our feelings about something or our fears about something etc.

I have recently read about perception. Most of the times, those of us who are communicating adequately are having trouble with perception. Whether it be us wrongly perceiving what our spouse is saying or vice versa. The statement "Well I didn't mean it like that" comes to mind to give you all a better idea of what I mean.

I, myself, have had a hard time with "assuming" probably most of my life. IMO assumption goes hand in hand with perception. One of the things I have been working on for the past ten months. A psychologist of mine has opened my eyes to one instance in particular that I perceived completely the wrong way. It was eye opening. We, as humans, have a tendency to put our perceptions onto others. Meaning we think they think the way we think. Geez that was a mouthful. The reality is, no two people think alike no matter how alike they are. One's perception of a statement, situation, etc may be the COMPLETE opposite of what another's perception of that same statement, situation, etc is.

I am curious as to what you all think of this, becuase so many marriage help books, seminars, tips, etc. focus so much on communication, when really it is only a small part of the root problem in some cases.

thoughts comments concerns?

Ivyivy posted 3/7/2014 12:45 PM

I have found over the years the WH will take offense at things people say or emails that are entirely innocuous. He has in the past sent me emails from co-workers where he has been severely offended and when I have read these I found nothing there to be offended by. I think that he has the same perceptions when talking to me so regardless of what I say, he can see an insult in it. For a long time I was his filter in his professional communications. Unfortunately he does not have a filter in his communications with me. Accordingly, no matter what I say, he can find some insult there. Maybe these are just my perceptions...

BeingNaive posted 3/7/2014 12:51 PM

I know what you are saying. I've noticed that I'll hear something my husband has said and assume that even though he's saying ABC, he means XYZ. A lot of the time it's because I'm thinking XYZ about the topic and I project my negative feelings onto him.

For me, I talked with him about the fact I do this. He's invited me to ask him what he means anytime that happens and he'll be happy to discuss it with me. It's made a difference for me!

It makes sense that people would perceive situations based on their own past experiences. Acknowledging that people think differently and allowing for questioning for clarification help those "I didn't mean it that way" statements.

Hope that was clear.

dbellanon posted 3/7/2014 13:25 PM

What you're calling a problem of perception I would say is part communication.

Just because you're saying something in a way that you think should be perfectly clear and understandable does not necessarily mean that you are communicating successfully. And maybe it should be perfectly clear. Maybe your partner's reception of what you're saying is horribly clouded by prejudice and projection and (as I'm sure many on this site can probably relate to) utterly crazy delusion. But wherever the problem originates, the solution is usually the same.

You're absolutely right that assumption is a big problem. Assume nothing. Most therapists will have you practice some version of active listening, in which your interlocutor is forced to paraphrase back to you what he/she thinks you said. And if it's not what you attempted to communicate, you keep working on it until you both get it right. Sometimes you can do this on your own. Sometimes it helps to have a third party there. Our therapist was actually really good at acting as a kind of translator.

XWW's entry into therapy with me was not serious, so I really only got a glimpse of the potential of this. She had a deep-seated motivation for maintaining her prejudices against me since without them she couldn't justify to herself anything that she had done, so I don't know if this would have solved everything for us if it had been given time, but it did help, I think.

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