Jordan Gray says that helping your partner heal their pain starts with you being willing to face your own demons.
“We all need somebody to lean on.” – Bill Withers
One of the most beautiful gifts that we gain from being in an intimate relationship with another is the emotional support that we get from them. And some of our deepest healing is done within the safety of a committed intimacy.
But past emotional wounds or unmet needs might make some of us feel resistant to accepting help from others.
A few years ago I was in a relationship with a woman who had one of the most beautiful souls I had ever come into contact with.
She was kind, patient, and wise beyond her years. And she had had her heart broken and her trust taken for granted too many times by essentially all of the men she had ever been with in intimate relationships.
I wanted her to know that she was safe with me. I wanted her to know that she was allowed to feel to the deepest depths of her painful past. But she was resistant to my well intentioned, but ultimately misguided methods of helping her open up and heal and rightfully so.
In order to truly be there for my partner, I had to learn to do the following four things first.
You must face yourself before you can help someone through their pain.
The word compassion is rooted in Latin meaning ‘to suffer with.’
If we try and dole out help or advice (no matter how pure the intentions are) to our partners without already first having begun to face our own emotional demons, it will be that much harder to connect with them.
You have to have already walked through the fire in order to tell someone that it’s safe, and that it won’t burn them. It’s only from that place that you can take their hand and walk in the direction of the wound.
Listen. Just listen.
The first step, and by far one of the biggest steps, in helping your significant other heal their emotional wounds is to let them speak their truth. By explicitly naming the demons that plague their minds and hearts, they will begin to loosen their grip over your love.
When your partner feels comfortable enough to share their wounds with you, it is only your job to hear them. And to hear them fully, with an open and loving heart.
There is a distinct lack of clean listening in the world. Hear them. Let them go on. And while you are hearing them, imagine the pain that they feel underneath their words. Let their words touch your heart, while you simultaneously stand in your strength and love them through their suffering.
Allow them to fully empty their hearts.
It isn’t enough to remove the metaphorical blockage from the dam and to let the water trickle out… you want the floodgates to open. The truth-telling section of their healing journey might take days, weeks, or months, to fully be brought into the light. And the beautiful part is… there is no rush.
Allow your partner to fully empty their hearts to you whenever they need to clear something verbally with you.
Only provide feedback if they explicitly ask for it.
Let’s get something straight…
It is not your responsibility to ease their suffering. It is not your responsibility to re-frame their suffering into a divine, soul-level lesson. And it is not your responsibility to create their happiness for them.
Your job is to practice compassionate listening, and allow them to empty their thoughts to you.
And while it isn’t your responsibility to do their work for them, you can play a part in the healing of their emotional wounds by lending a non-shaming, non-judgmental, compassionate ear. You can be their ‘somebody to lean on.’
If they explicitly ask you for feedback, advice, or for you to validate or mirror their emotions back to them, then by all means… do whatever comes naturally to you. But your primary purpose in facilitating the healing of your partner’s emotional wounds is to be a safe, loving receiver of their most painful thoughts.
This isn’t necessarily easy work, but it is vital work.
Hold your pain, then hold their pain, and then allow love to be the medicine that cleans out the wounds of your collective pasts.
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Jordan Gray is a sex and relationship coach who helps people remove their emotional blocks, and maintain thriving intimate relationships. You can see more of his writing at JordanGrayConsulting.com
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