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How to Avoid Assumptions And Create A Shared Vision Instead

Imagine this scenario. You and your partner are sitting down at your favourite restaurant chatting away about this and that, when suddenly your partner starts talking about the skis and kayaks you are both going to buy and the great beach resort holiday you are both going to have so as to try out your new toys.

All this is news to you. You do not recall any conversation in which you agreed to buy skis and kayaks and then head off to some resort. What you do remember is listening to your partner enumerate all the things they wanted to purchase with the bonuses you both had just received. You remember smiling, nodding your head to show interest and then in saying, “Good ideas, I have some more thoughts let’s talk later.”

Unfortunately the “let’s talk later” never happened as your partner made the assumption that you were on board with their ideas. For after all you were just as enthused about water sports as they were, and at the beginning of your marriage most of your time together revolved around fun, sports and adventure. But life had changed for you in the last few years, and now it seemed that your priorities were different than your partner’s. However your partner was still not aware of this and was constantly making assumptions about you and your relationship.

What you have here is a relationship facing an impasse. For any number of years you and your partner shared the same aspirations and enjoyed your journey together, but now only one of you is following the path you both agreed on when you began your life together. Things are changing and neither your partner nor you can assume that your wants are still the same.

It is time for you and your partner to review your values, re address your vision and establish new goals.

The hardest part may be to actually talk to your partner about this shift in your relationship, and your best way to do this is by using Assertive I-Language. All you can really do is describe the situation as you see it, and then ask for what you want. Your objective is to help your partner be aware of the situation and be open to doing something about it. Your relationship can no longer be based on assumptions.

Any conversation on wants and needs can be quite tense and even threatening so it is important to grab all opportunities to affirm your relationship. It is critical for you and your partner to understand that you are not looking at ending your relationship, but at ways to re establish the values and vision that are the drive behind it.


Values refer to your beliefs, philosophy, principles, standards and morals. They are the back bone of the decisions you make in life, and impact on the directions you follow. Fundamentally they give meaning to your existence and influence all your significant undertakings. The range of values is massive. Some examples are: family, relationships, meaningful work, adventure, personal growth, religion, security and wealth.

If you want to create a long term relationship with someone it can be quite important for you to share some similar values. It is probably preferable to have more values in common than less. Often many couples before they get married discuss their values and ensure that they are on the same page with what is important to them. Other couples do not specifically sit down and discuss their values but make assumptions that their values must be the same because they get along so well and think alike.

All goes well until values in the relationship begin to change, or certain important values are not being addressed any longer, all signs that individual wants and aspirations are beginning to differ. The common ground that served as a relationship foundation begins to tremble and assumptions are only making the situation worse.

It is now more than ever extremely important for you and your partner to set aside time to review your values, note any changes and address any new ones. Your partner might be ready to save money for a house deposit,  but you are still too busy having fun. Or it might be that family was never really important to either of you, but it is now very important to your partner.

This discussion on values may raise some concerns as to whether there is still a way forward in your relationship. And this is why it is crucial to constantly affirm the positives and the love that you and your partner share. Chances are that things have not changed that drastically and that with a little problem solving any issues raised by changed values can be resolved.


Many couples never move past an exploration of their values and are content with knowing that what is important to one of them is important to them both. But to help insure you both continue to share the same values and avoid assumptions, and in order to build a life based on these values it is important to create a joint vision.

A vision is a picture of what you want your life together to look like. It is important to have a personal vision but a joint vision is just as significant. You can vision a future 6 months away or 10 years down the road. What is important is that your vision depicts the life that you and your partner want to share together.

A simple exercise to help you generate the life you both want is called a “Letter From The Future”. You and your partner pick a date somewhere in the future and then write a letter to yourself from this future date describing the life you are living together at that time. In this letter you may be talking about the family that you now have, the joint venture that you both are involved in, the holidays and adventures you have had, the health regime you both have started, the house you have bought or are building etc. It is actually beneficial to look at all factors of your life together and create a picture of what you want these to look like.


Next this vision that you and your partner share is translated into goals. You start by listing each area of your life that your vision covers. These may include: health, wealth, fun and recreation, family, spiritual life and so on. You and your partner then collaboratively set a goal for each of the areas presented. These goals stem from a jointly shared vision which has emerged out of a mutual set of values, and as such they will be a force that solidifies your partnership and provides meaning to your relationship.

When setting goals you need to be as specific and time oriented as possible, and it is important to design an action plan for each goal. Working together you and your partner can determine what steps are required for goal attainment and who will be doing what, and when.

As you are both involved in successfully completing each goal and in actualising your vision, you will have a continuous point of interest. This shared focus will probably be the topic of many discussions and as such will be a clear indicator that you and your partner are travelling the same path. There might be a need for a change here and there but as you are both revisiting your vision and goals regularly this should be easily handled together.

Just remember that even though your journey is shared, it is dangerous to assume that it is being experienced in the same way. You may like the idea that you and your partner are so close that you are thinking as one, and so it is okay to ‘assume’. But the truth is that you and your partner are two individuals who bring their own unique flavour to the relationship you share- a relationship that may have little room for assumptions.

Do you want to avoid assumptions and create a joint vision?
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#1 Charles on 08.09.10 at 1:55 pm

This elaboration of ‘assumption’ is done in a very clear ans understandable way. It is a confirmation of the theories of anthropologist Margaret Read who advocated three marriage partnerships for humans during their life span. This is to accomoodate the different rate at which individuals mature – a compatable couple at 20 are not necessarily still compatable at 40 due to individual tastes, experiences, knowledge and goals changing separatly.
Well done Zahava.

Regards Charles.

#2 Kylie Marriott on 01.19.11 at 11:24 am

I like the way you explain things and the example exercizes you include.
You sound like a very smart cookie!
Thanks Kylie x