These five words are something I say to myself during a variety of interaction points through our marriage.
And I think knowing this phrase, and accepting it really early on, takes away a bit of the movie-like fairytale romance from our relationship, but has saved us from so many arguments.
The five words are “He’s not a mind reader”.
This phrase was in a book on marriage that I read while we were engaged and I’ve carried this thought into our marriage in so many ways.
Justin and I have a lot of similarities, but our love languages are pretty different. It takes time to become tuned to how your partner receives and gives love, and that is something Justin and I are always adjusting and working on as our lives change.
sidebar: I can’t use the words “giving and receiving” without thinking of Joey’s example of his speech for Chandler and Monica’s wedding. #friendsreference
Physical affection (something as simple as touching my shoulder or the top of my back when he passes me in the house) means so much to me. Justin is not naturally a “physical touch” kind of guy, so he has to make a great effort to do that for me.
Justin really appreciates words of affirmation and I can struggle to give those freely. I can look at a household task as a just a basic “check that off the list” thing that could easily go unmentioned, but it means a lot to him if I notice that he did it and say “hey thanks for doing _____, I appreciate that!”
So the biggest way that the “he’s not a mind reader” has played out for success in our communication and marriage is me setting aside the belief that he is going to SEE my stress or SEE my need for a date or SEE that I need help with a task without me asking or mentioning any of those things.
If I assume he’s a mind reader, I assume that he knows exactly what I need without telling him, and let me say that if you are looking for a way to set your spouse up for failure, that is the best way to do it.
It is totally unfair of me to have expectations of him that I do not share with him. And I wouldn’t want him to do that with me either! Does it take away some of the magic and surprise, yes it does a little bit. But it’s worth losing a little magic for the sake of healthy communication and expectations.
So early on, I learned that I need to be explicit about what my hopes or needs are for certain things. Date night, for example, is something I usually plan but I told Justin at the start of our marriage that I’d like to go on a more fancy, special date at Christmas time that I’d like him to plan.
I’m going to be honest here, with my husband’s permission, and share that he forgot about this special Christmas date I asked for a few years in a row. It really hurt me, but we worked on it, and he’s made our Christmas date a priority for the past few years.
The “he’s not a mind reader” also works really well as a way to remind myself that he doesn’t know if I need something if I don’t tell him. If I need more work time, I need to tell him. If I need a girl’s night, I tell him.
We have struggles like any married couple, but our communication has always been something we focus on intently. And I think that has led to a lot of success with knowing and learning what the other person needs or desires in a season.