Seems one person or the other of a couple wants the other one to read their mind.
This is what they tell me in my office :
“He should KNOW what I like/want/need without my having to tell him. If I have to tell him what I want, well, then it doesn’t mean as much when he gives it to me.”
And the funny thing is–some couples seem to be very good at mind reading. But are they really?
No, they are not–they are NOT mind readers at all!
They are: VERY good anticipators.
Here’s the way it works. Couples meet, decide to court, and spend a lot of time together.
Over the course of time, they actually tell each other what they want–repeatedly. Especially early on… The operative word here is REPEATEDLY.
What happens next? They get what they ask for, and are pleased, and appreciative. Why?
Because being given what we ask for is a direct sign that our lover cares about us.
The repetition of appreciation reinforces the behavior. With reinforcement, a pattern is built. A pattern is a pattern because it is repeated.
So, if you frequently tell me that bringing me a hot cup of coffee in bed on Saturday morning means more to you than life itself, and I bring it to you, and then you tell me how much you appreciate the coffee, and that you also appreciate me, after a while the coffee magically shows up each Saturday morning without you asking for it.
Why? Because I’ve been conditioned to bring it. And the cool thing about all of this? It all happens unconsciously.
Fast forward 20 when you happen to mention to one of your neighbors or friends that your spouse does this for you every Saturday morning, they will ask: “How does he know to do that?”
You won’t say, “I’ve conditioned him well.”
You will probably say: “I don’t know, I guess he just reads my mind.” And your neighbor will remark: “Jeez, I wish my husband would read MY mind!”
But clearly, no one has read anyone’s mind. Both of you have participated in building a pattern that no longer depends on verbal commands. If, however, you find these patterns of affection seem to have vanished, maybe it’s time to have a talk about the relationship in general.
But remember, it all began
BY ASKING FOR OR MAKING KNOWN WHAT YOU WANT!
“Ah,” you say, “but I already HAVE told him/her what I want, and I’m not getting it. Your theory is WRONG.”
Well maybe, but maybe not. Maybe one part of the pattern reinforcement is missing, such as the appreciation; Or, there might be some resentment for an unspoken wound that is standing in the way.
Whether a pattern has been set or not, the only way create a pattern is by asking for what you want.
So maybe it’s time to let go of the belief that asking for what you want means he doesn’t care about you. Instead, change the belief to: Ask and you shall receive. Consider what you receive a gift, show your appreciation, and build a pattern.
Wishing you a satisfying relationship,
Jim Hutt, Ph.D., MFT
©2012 Jim Hutt & CounselorLink.com
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