Posted by Marie McKinney-Oates on Jun 9, 2009
Many times relationship gurus advise men to “quit trying to fix her problems”! Women are emotional and need to be listened to, not fixed. So quit treating them like a car engine!
This is great advice, except that it leaves men hanging on what it is they should be doing. If their gut is chanting, “fix, fix, fix”, but the latest issue of Redbook is warning, “Don’t you dare…” what is a man to do?
Simply listen. Right?
Well, kind of. The catch is that if you just listen then odds are we’ll think you don’t care. Just listening means that you’re being quiet. Because if you can’t fix her problems there really isn’t anything to say, right?
So, so wrong.
Listen. For real.
Communication is a game of ‘Catch’, the act of tossing a ball back and forth between two people. One person has an idea and this idea is tossed to the other person. In a game of catch it’s helpful to know that the ball, or idea, has been caught. How can you let her know that you’ve heard, or caught, what she was saying? Hint: Start the sentence with “I hear you saying…” and then repeat back. Simple.
As she’s talking take some time to try to put yourself in her shoes. How would you feel if were in her place? If she comes home upset that her boss chewed her out for being late to a very important meeting, how would you feel? Embarrassed, angry, worried? Let her know that you understand her feelings.
Part of the importance of empathizing is that it’s just a good relationship skill to have. The other part is survival. Because sometimes what’s making her feel like crap is you. You’ve hurt her feelings. Or made her mad. Or frustrated her. No matter the feeling, it was your fault. That much is clear. The longer that you miss this vital point the more she desires to simply make you feel what she is feeling. If you’re not “getting” that you checking out the waitress made her feel like a dog, then in her irrational state of mind it makes COMPLETE sense to make you feel as bad as she feels. If you don’t like this part of a typical argument learn to empathize. Fast.
Guys, it’s more than just not trying to fix her problem. It’s making sure you hear her heart.