Are You Sure Of What You “Know?”
How often in a long term relationship do we think we can read the other person’s mind? Sadly, it’s all too often that what we think we “know” is just not true. The worst part of it is, we react to what we think, rather than giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, or even asking for clarification. That’s why clear communication — including not jumping to conclusions — is so important.
Which reminds me of an old joke, that I have revised a bit. Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
A shy man with a wooden eye finally gets up the courage to ask a woman to dance. Trembling with fear, he chooses a gorgeous wallflower with a very colorful dress, who seems to be looking at the dance floor with longing. He strolls over, absolutely terrified that she won’t like him because of his wooden eye. “Will you dance with me?” he asks. “Dance with you!,” she gushes, in disbelief that she’s been picked. “Would I!” Of course he doesn’t hear it as “Would I.” He hears, instead “Wood eye!” and immediately attacks back and says “Well you have a really ugly dress, who wants to dance with you anyway?”
It’s an oldie but it points to a human error that can absolutely kill a relationship, just as it killed this budding romance. When we are afraid our partner is confirming our worst fears about ourselves (maybe it’s that “he doesn’t find me beautiful,” or “she think’s I’m inept”) we don’t ask if that’s what they really meant. We think we KNOW. We also don’t say “ouch.” No, instead, we very often attack with the same artillery we think was aimed at us, and we hit the other person right in their sore spot.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
If only the man had said “You don’t have to criticize my wooden eye!” the poor girl might have been able to clarify and the two could have gotten married and raised a whole passel of one eyed, colorfully dressed dancers. The world will never know.
Margie Wheelhouse is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Springfield, Illinois. She helps couples build great relationships and repair broken ones. She also loves jokes, old and new.