Recently, during a lunch with a very ‘coach-like’ friend of mine I got to hear my husband answer her very creative question.
“How have you changed since you got married to each other 8 years ago?”
I think Bill’s answer gives us the best goal posts possible for lasting emotional intimacy.
He said: ‘Well, I’ve learned how to be loved, how to let myself be loved, and I’ve learned to love myself better.’
I have to tell you, being married to someone who let’s me love him, receives it, is a joy. Being married to someone who sees and enjoys his own value and worth more, also amazing.
So then, how can we work towards this for our partners? How do we love them in a way that gets past all their self-protective defense mechanisms and patterns? How do we love them in a way that leads them to valuing and loving themselves more?
I hope this is the core to all of my blogs but I’m going to focus today on one of the most important ones. It is the easiest to say and the hardest to do.
Listen well to them.
We all know the phrase “active listening”. How many of us practice it regularly?
One of the core skills I have taught leaders over the years is more effective listening. Many of them have contacted me months or years later and told me how much it improved their marriage.
Really listening means:
- I’m not giving you my feedback or advice as soon as I’ve heard you talk a little
- I’m not even thinking about how to fix this because I’m focused on what you are feeling
- I’m okay with your emotions coming to the surface and I don’t feel the need to stop them
- Asking questions to get you to dig deeper will happen naturally because I want to know you
- Reflecting back to you what I think you are both saying and meaning
- Hearing your heart, your hopes, your pain beneath the words you are using
- Not getting defensive and reactive, putting my response on hold for another time
- Being okay with pauses and silence, creating space for our partner to process
Now it doesn’t sound quite so easy does it?
This is a skill. It is in fact a relationship power tool! Listening can calm anger more quickly. It can solve concerns without giving any advice.
Being listened to allows us to problem solve, to detox emotions that block forward movement. Being listened to gives us courage to move forward when we feel loved and supported.
Men get teased a lot in our society for wanting to fix instead of listen. In my experience, as a woman and as an observer, us women are just as guilty. It may look a little different but we can do this too.
As usual, let me ask you some questions:
What are the top 3 things that get in the way of me listening well to my partner?
What would help to create an environment where I can listen better?
Is there something I can give my partner to use as a reminder to me that I want to listen to him/her better? (Some people use a ‘talking stick’ - this blog gives a great explanation of how to use one http://www.stage2planning.com/5-reasons-to-use-a-talking-stick.)
In 5 years what would you like to hear your partner say about how they have changed by being with you?
Until next time,
Marilyn Orr, The Luv Life Coach
Marilyn Orr is a relationship coach with Luv Life Coaching, passionate about equipping couples with the tools for real and lasting intimacy.
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