3. Unconscious, unverbalised expectations
These are tricky. Let’s face it, you’re not aware of what you’re not aware of. You will probably trip over these. But when you do, hopefully you will learn to think deeply about what is behind what you and your partner are feeling.
You can ask, “What happened in your family?”, “What is it you expect?” You can listen to all those family stories and pay attention at family gatherings like Christmas parties.
For example, a couple had been very happily married for one year, except that every Sunday morning, she would get snappy about something.
After some gentle asking, he discovered that her father had washed all her family’s cars every Sunday morning, and he worked out that this made her feel loved and looked after. She had never stopped to think about it—in fact she had never mentioned it, but always picked a fight about some side issue.
She was so touched he bothered to understand her and that he washed and polished their cars the next Sunday. He cheated—he paid a carwash and sat reading a magazine, because he hated cleaning cars.
But he was repaid by an open-hearted woman with a truckload of goodwill—he did not even calculate several memorable meals, romps and help with the most boring part of his tax return.