How to Harvest the Goodness in Your Relationship
Even When It Feels Bad
When your man says something to you that hurts your feelings or triggers feelings of anger, sadness, guilt, that “makes you wrong or bad” or that blames you, it is time to respond with curiosity rather than react with defensiveness.
Your response can either start an argument, or create understanding and connection.
Right in the moment that you want to defend yourself, you can chose to take another path.
Yes, right in the midst of your upset, you can learn to respond so that you are building your relationship up, rather than tearing it down.
When you feel yourself flushed with anger, welling up with tears, riled with frustration, burning with resentment, or humiliated with embarrassment, it is time to stop yourself from reacting.
This creates a “pattern interrupt.” It slows down the conversation so that you can really communicate, rather than talk at each other.
How do you do this? With absolute commitment and lots of practice!
You must commit yourself to creating a better relationship (thus a better life) with your mate.
You must dedicate yourself to learning new skills and a new mindset to create a connection with your mate that you may never have thought was possible.
You must practice these skills as diligently as a toddler learning to walk, making hundreds of attempts before getting comfortable and reliably good at them.
You must be easy on yourself while you are learning, giving yourself a break when you revert to old habits. It takes time to re-train yourself.
Turning Upset into Understanding
The KEY is to stop yourself from reacting in your usual way. This is hard. You have been reacting in the same way for years. As my friend Sam Horn, the author of Tongue Fu, says “Tongue Glue” is often the best response. (Glue your tongue to the roof of your mouth!)
Once you have stopped yourself from reacting, you will have created space for you to respond differently. Now you can ask a question! That’s it. Only ask this question!
What did you mean by that?
That question needs to be asked with real curiosity, not delivered as a sarcastic remark. You need to ask it with a mild tone of voice. If you are high-pitched, loud, or emotional, it won’t work.
Why ask what he meant? After all, isn’t it perfectly clear what he meant? NO! What you think he means and what he is talking about could be worlds apart.
Your job here is just to listen and understand what he is saying.
The only way to create real communication (and connection) is to ASK and LISTEN!
If he doesn’t get what you are asking say, “I just heard you say,
_______________ (say back to him what you heard), and it hurt (or it felt bad) and I was wondering if that is what you meant?
Then shut up and let him talk.
Don’t put words in his mouth
Don’t assume that you know what he’s thinking
Don’t tell him what he’s thinking (men hate that)
Don’t twist his words to take them in the worst possible way he could have meant them.
Don’t defend yourself or give your point of view
Listen with one purpose:
To understand what he meant to say,
NOT to make a case for what you heard.
When you are listening to his words, stop thinking about what you are going to say next, just listen. After he talks, you will have time to think about what he just said.
Then you can respond with another inquiry, “Help me understand that” or repeat back what you think he just said to you and say, “Did I hear you right?” Again, listen, wait to respond, then ask another question.
When you really understand what he actually meant, thank him for helping you to see his point of view, even if you don’t agree.
At this point, you can share your point of view with him if it will help create more understanding between you and strengthen your relationship. If it won’t, just skip it.
This is called real communication. It does absolute wonders for relationships. It creates a deeper understanding, tender intimacy, sweet connection, concerned caring, warm kindness and devoted love.
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