If you’re tired of hearing “You’re not listening to me” or “Stop trying to fix all my problems”, this video is for you.
Relationship Help In Action
You can probably relate to the couple in this video. I bet you laughed or at least smiled. I did.
I recently mediated a parent teen dispute . The parents were scared for their child’s safety and their daughter was feeling smothered. They were both trying to come up with solutions that were going nowhere. It was like a ping-pong match with each swing getting progressively harder. I eventually suggested to the parents that they simply acknowledge the daughter’s feelings and the daughter acknowledge the parents’ feelings.
Parents: “I know you feel smothered.”
Daughter: “Yes, that’s what I’ve been telling you! I know you are scared I’m going to do something stupid and get hurt.”
Parents: With tears in their eyes, “Yes, honey. We just want you to be safe. We love you.”
Did this solve their problems? Of course not! But it did help begin to repair their relationship. It set the stage for better understanding and communication.
If you are experiencing relationship problems marked by lots of arguments, your loved one probably feels like you don’t understand, even if you think you do. If you’ve recently heard something like “You don’t get me,” there is a good chance that you skipped the critical step.
The Critical Step That Could Save Your Marriage
Before responding to the words your spouse is saying, respond to the feelings you hear behind the words. One way to think about this is that if you find both of you repeating yourselves — going back and forth like a seesaw:
- Take a breath, step back, and think about how the other person is feeling.
- Then, tell them what you are hearing — about their feelings, even if you don’t understand it, agree with it, or think it is wildly unfair!
- Trying to rationalize feelings is flat-out irrational.
- There is no right or wrong when it comes to feelings.
- No one should feel a certain way (Why I think the word “should” is unhelpful).
- Trying to validate feelings, on the other hand, is about as rational as it gets.
- People want to feel heard and understood. It doesn’t matter who you are or what gender you are — people tend to remain defensive when they feel judged or misunderstood.
- Conversely, folks open themselves up to new ideas when they feel the other person “gets” how they are feeling.
Imagery For Helping Relationship Problems
Even though the literal nail was snagging all of her sweaters, the proverbial nail is the recognition of the other person’s feelings.Remembering the nail might just help your relationship problems move closer to relationship solutions.
It’s difficult to acknowledge feelings when you are in the midst of a relationship problem. What works for you? I invite you to share your suggestions in the comments section below.