When your lover is hurting and tells you so, this is not a request for “Mr. Fix-it.”
First, she is not broken.
Second, always remember, someone who is hurting only needs your love, support and understanding. It is human nature to want to work with, not against, someone who understands you.
Listening must also be intentional. When you are not intentional about listening, you only hear about half of the conversation, if that much. It would be wise to assume that one-sided conversations do not work. Intentional listening can only be effective and only occurs when you listen without expectations of what will be said and without judgment of what was said or for what reason it was said.
To be a committed, empathic, intentional and thoughtful listener is to demonstrate a high degree of “respect” for your partner. Good communication is not about allowing your relationship to function on autopilot; it’s about being intentional about saying what needs to be said and listening thoughtfully to what is spoken.
Your main intention should be to listen. Really hear what she is saying. Empathic listening is a choice. Be a committed listener when your partner needs to communicate with you.
Identify the distinction between merely hearing the words and really listening for the message. When we listen effectively we understand what the person is thinking and/or feeling from your partner’s own perspective. It’s called empathy.
How often do we just wait for our partner’s lips to stop moving so we can say something? Empathic listening gets inside your partner’s frame of reference. You see her world the way she sees it, you understand her paradigm, you understand how she “feels.”
Try this. Only listen. The purpose of saying nothing is to honor your partner’s right to express her thoughts and feelings. Listen. Show respect.
When listening, resist the urge to formulate your own rebuttal to what your partner is saying. This will only inhibit your ability to truly hear what is being said. And it will further inhibit her to speak what is on her mind in the future. Withholding communication is a relationship wrecker. In my opinion “withheld communication” is at the top of the list of relationship problems.
We often withhold what needs to be said because the last time we did say it, someone got really upset. We don’t want to go through that again so we shut down. Then one day you don’t take out the garbage and she wants a divorce and it’s NOT about the garbage. It’s about all the things you didn’t talk about.
Rarely does anyone get what they need from a relationship when their only intention is to criticize their lover for mistakes or to offer assistance that is not asked for. – Larry James
Pay attention. Put aside your own personal beliefs, judgments, evaluations and notions about what is being said.
Listen to your partner without the burden of having to “do” anything other than give her room to talk. Listen more and talk less. You can’t learn anything when you’re talking. Listening is the foundation for concentration. Focus on her, not what you think might help.
Listening is one way to connect to your partner without trying to fix her. Advice is rarely ever appreciated unless it is asked for. Unless she asks. . . only listen. If she asks for your thoughts, with love and understanding, offer them. However, only then should you offer to help.
In the midst of a disagreement, we often have ears that listen with prejudiced views. Learn how to speak so your love partner will hear what you are really saying.
A warm and tender hug might help too. Whisper that you understand and in your very best way, let her know she is loved.
I know this is difficult for most men. Men like to fix things. It’s part of our DNA. Learn to resist the urge to be a “Mr. Fix-it” when your partner needs to talk.
NOTE: Alright, guys. . . here’s the bottom line. You would be wise to only demonstrate your usefulness as a “Mr. Fix-it” by fixing things around the house. . . or taking out the garbage. . . without being asked! 😉
Copyright © 2009 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and a nondenominational minister. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere.
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