Think You Know Your Mate’s Feelings? And Linkup

I’m a gap-filling girl. If someone starts to say something and stops to think of the right word for it, I suggest all sorts of words to help that poor soul fill in the gap.

If someone’s facial expressions or tone of voice don’t match up with his/her words, then I fill in the gap with what “I” believe that person is feeling or trying to do.

Pete and Geri Scazzero refer to this as “mind-reading” and call it what it is—a boundary violation!

Eek!

Assume Feelings
As a counselor and life-coach that’s kinda what I’m trained to do—fill the gap on what might be causing the issue in my client’s life, as well as offering helpful ideas for filling “said gap.”

After all, there’s nothing worse than walking around with a wide-open gap in your life! 😉

It’s like walking around with your “fly open” or flashing a smile only to show off a toothless grin!

With all of that said . . .

Even though I really do know my husband SUPER well, I can’t claim to know his thoughts or feelings unless he tells me. And whenever I try to “read his mind” by assuming what his feelings might be, it feels intrusive and offensive to him.

For me, this habit raises its thorny head most often when I am in a tension-filled discussion (okay) argument with my hubby. And very often our argument only gets hotter and more contentious after I’ve introduced this subtle boundary violation. Talk about throwing fuel on the fire!

The reason I’m tempted to do this in times of stress and disagreement is to introduce a solution into the conflict. #goodreasonsgonebad

My reasoning is that if I say what I think is really going on, the “cat will be out of the bag” and my mate will own that feisty feline as his “furry feelings.”

It’s like I expect him to say, “Wow! Thanks for the revelation, Beth! I didn’t see that one at all and SO needed your assistance to figure it all out!”

What a condescending insult that is to my husband and his feelings!

He’s quite capable of figuring them out and expressing them to me when he is ready! Thank you!

In fact, . . .

If I really feel like I need to clarify what I’m noticing, then I need to either . . .

  • Ask permission, “Gary, may I read your mind?” (Of course, you’ll need to explain that one to your mate ahead of time!)
  • Or simply and humbly ask, “I may be way off base, but I’m feeling uncomfortable with the way we’re relating right now. Is there something that’s bothering you, Gary? Or is there something else going on that I don’t know about?”

Then, and only then, is he free to clarify just what he feels with me—the one who is no longer pretending to be inside his head! It truly makes for a much better exchange of thoughts and feelings.

And there’s an added bonus when we drop the bad habit of “mind-reading” our mate’s feelings . . . Very often we misinterpret what he or she is actually feeling, so asking for clarification gets us both to talking about what it is we each truly feel, adding greater insight for ourselves, as well as our partners.

When it comes to avoiding tension in communication and preventing negative filters from being developed in our perspectives of our mates, clarity is priceless!

 

How do you feel when your mate or someone assumes how you feel about something?

 

What is one assumption you’ve made about your mate that caused great conflict and heartache?

 

I’m going on one last trip of the summer this next week with my hubby, but will still be providing the linkup for “From Messes to Messages” next Tuesday/Wednesday, August 16th and 17th. I won’t be sharing a post, I don’t think, nor will I be present to respond to comments, even though I would love to have you share your links here anyway. It’s my last chance to dip beneath the surface of summer before hitting the routines of fall that are just around the corner! I hope you understand and know that I appreciate everyone who visits and links up here!


Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, Christian Blogger Community, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Nanahood, Moments of Hope, Family, Friendship and Faith, DanceWithJesusFriday and Wholehearted Wednesday.

Join our From Messes to Messages Linkup!
Add any links that are uplifting, helpful and encouraging to our spiritual lives, marriages and families! Be sure to add a link on your blog back to “From Messes to Messages” or Messy Marriage as well. For linkup guidelines/button, click here.

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  • Mary

    Mind reading huh??? I have some friends who naturally feel the need to finish my thoughts or sentences. Now I know how Gary feels!!! 😉 It always makes me feel uncomfortable because I am a thinker and processor so chances are I am still coming up with the best word or sentence. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and always making me feel welcome.

    Enjoy your last summer fling. What a treat for you!

    • But it’s not just how Gary feels, Mary. Everyone feels that sense of being intruded upon when someone tells us what we are feeling, anyway. And yes, some people are slower to formulate an important disclosure, so we actually rob those people of finding that expression without any interference. Thanks so much for coming by to encourage and join the conversation, my friend. Hugs to you!

  • Susan

    I LOVE the way you framed that! I, too, am a “gap filler”. I’ve always looked at it as just interrupting, but never really realized that what I’m doing is gap filling. For me, I also notice that I get impatient if someone is taking too long to get their thoughts out and try to hurry them along. But like you said, it is condescending and rude. I’ve been working on this lately, and so your post really caught my eye. Thanks!

    • Some of my reasoning for doing it is impatience, but sometimes I actually think I’m helping someone or come conflict. Especially when it is in the middle of an argument with my hubby. After all, don’t we overlook the elephant in the room much more when we are defensive? So I think I’m just pointing the “elephant” out to my hubby. He, on the other hand, feels like I’m pointing a finger at him and not at his feelings. Beside, I have my own “elephant in the room” that I need to acknowledge first in any argument. Thanks so much for your encouragement, Susan! I appreciate it!

  • Patricia Krank

    Ouch! I think I’m a gap filler too! I know it bothers my husband greatly when I assume I know what he is feeling and I am usually way off too. Thank you for this message today. I am new to your party this week and look forward to joining you again.
    Happy vacation 🙂
    Patti

    • Yes, it’s a common problem for couples, especially couples who regularly bicker since it stirs that argumentative pot, Patti! I see it not just in my own marriage but a lot of the time in the couple’s I coach. They think they are simply telling what their spouse is feeling, while the look on their spouse’s face is priceless! Yep, clarification by each individual spouse is the ticket to resolution and expression! Thanks for joining the linkup and as well as the conversation, my friend!

  • Susan

    I think I fall into the gap filler category…I’m going to work on it. Thanks Beth for your insights and the linkup!

    • I think a lot of writers and counselors are “gap fillers,” Susan. It’s what we do all the time in our careers and passions, so why shouldn’t it be a passion that spills over into life and marriage? 😉 I hope you are able to notice it more, like I’m trying to do, my friend!

  • NanaHood

    I always enjoy reading your post! Thanks for linking up at NanaHood!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Teresa! I appreciate it!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, Beth, and some really good concrete suggestion for unclogging stopped-up communications.

    One thing that may bear consideration when ‘mind-reading’ a mate is that women tend to assume that men think like women, and vice versa. It’s just not true.

    The cliche example is that women usually look for ways to improve a situation, whereas me will ‘plateau’, and at some point just accept things as-is. In such a situation, a woman might assume that a man doesn’t care, and a man might take the desire to improve as either implicit or explicit criticism. Without a clear understanding of different points of view engendered by gender, it can be hard to get out of the mudhole of argument.

    • Good point, Andrew. I do think there are huge differences between how men and women think. That might actually be a good direction for me for the next post, since I need a filler for this week because I have a guest blogger the following week and don’t want to start any new series. Thanks for that idea! I’ve seen a video on this concept. Women are coming up with all sorts of explanations when the guy is simply frowning because he has heartburn or his team lost a game! ha!!

  • pioneerpat1

    Great post.

    I think that people love to assume what is going on with me. That I don’t care or whatever. I try not to get too high or too low and if there is a problem, I am in my mind to understand it and solve it. People don’t get that and it has caused a lot of problems. It also makes people mad, when I have figured out a solution to the issue or at least suggest one.

    • I bet they assume a lot because you keep your feelings to yourself most of the time, right, Patrick? A lot of internal processors are the “gaps” that we “gap fillers” are drawn to and exploit! Sorry that you are experiencing that, my friend! But thanks for adding another way to understand the implications of this bad habit!

  • Beth,

    So helpful! Thanks so much 🙂

    • Thanks so much, sweet Dolly! I haven’t been in the same blogging circles but so clearly recall your insight and sweetness! Thanks for stopping in and encouraging me!

  • I’m smiling, Beth, because I was just at the Global Leadership Summit where a speaker talked about communication styles and cultural norms. English is the most direct, waste no time, get to the point language out there. Asian languages are very circular. And some languages have BIG gaps in their response time making our English trained minds very nervous and feeling as though we need to fill in the blanks! With our country as diverse as it is, we encounter such a variant of people every day! It’s so interesting!

    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

    • Interesting, Lori. I know that the English language compared to the Greek and Hebrew is very superficial and lacks the detail and nuance those languages at least used to have. I do think that vagueness is one fat temptation to fill it up with all sorts of crazy interpretations. Thanks for adding to the conversation, my friend!

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