We tend to think our emotions are linked to a specific situation or event, and how we feel is a result of what we’re seeing or hearing. But Psychologist Albert Ellis argues that what we believe comes in between what we see or hear. Beliefs determine how we interpret events, and our emotional reactions follow from our interpretation. It truly doesn’t matter who takes out the trash. However, it does matter what we believe our partner is communicating to us when they ask us to, or what we’re communicating when we don’t.
In marriage, our beliefs are what we hold to be true about what the relationship should be like and how our partner should think and act. They’re also the basis for our wants, needs, and expectations. When our wants, needs, or expectations are satisfied, we feel good about our relationship; when they’re not, they become a source of contention. Unmet needs, wants, and expectations are really what make us unhappy in our marriage.
Some beliefs are perfectly acceptable, but some are not. Acceptable beliefs are rational, and when they underlie our needs, wants, and expectations, we have a right to have them fulfilled. However, some beliefs are irrational. It is irrational to believe our partner should love us no matter what we do or how we treat them. Some people actually do hold that belief — they call it unconditional love.