I've been reading this amazing book on relationships called "Love is Never Enough" written by Aaron Beck (one of the founding fathers of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy), and I wanted to share some insights I've gained.
CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on challenging an individual's thoughts to see how his/her assumptions about a situation may be irrational. At the same time CBT asks individuals to also change their behaviors, often times stirring up anxiety and discomfort, but showing the person he/she can handle acting in these more positive, healthy ways without falling apart.
This book focuses on how people often misperceive their partner's motivations and make assumptions about their partner's feelings. Here are 3 ways this book suggests you RE-THINK your relationship:
1. Automatic Thoughts: Notice how your own thinking about yourself impacts the way you imagine others feel about you. Notice how assumptions often become your reality without having sufficient evidence. Consider this example, inspired by the book: A woman comes home from work excited to share with her husband an opportunity for promotion she received that day. Her husband responds without much enthusiasm. The woman feels defeated, making the assumption that her husband doesn't care about her or her successes. This woman grew up in a home where her father similarly often ignored her, and didn't give her the love and attention she craved. As a result, she often assumed her husband was treating her the same way. In reality, her husband was distracted at the moment by a serious e-mail he had just received.
2. Misperceiving Motivations: Often, we interpret the actions of our partners as having much more negative intentions than they do in reality. Consider this example, inspired by the book: At a social gathering, a wife changes the subject when her husband begins speaking about a specific topic at dinner. The husband feels dejected, assuming that his wife wants to shut him up. He feels that his wife lacks respect for him, and doesn't feel he has anything beneficial to add to a conversation. Upon exploration, the wife explains that her reason for changing the topic was because her husband was bringing up a subject that was a current sensitive issue for their friends, and was attempting to spare their feelings.
3. Mismatched Expectations & "Rules": While couples often fight because of faulty/irrational assumptions, complications can also arise when two individuals have different expectations of what they want from a relationship, and who they expect their partner to be. Because these expectations feel so natural and obvious to the person who has them, when his/her partner violates these "rules" it can feel like a betrayal. It's important for couples to discuss what they expect from their partner (and what they value most), in order to help the relationship flourish.
Struggling in an intimate relationship? Talking to a therapist can help. Reach out to me today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.
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