By: Dr. Gwen Smith
Are you in a committed relationship that’s going the total opposite direction from what you had planned? Do you feel like throwing in the towel and just walking away from the whole thing?
I’ve been there too and had in fact gotten to the point where we had literally signed the divorce papers and had it notarized. . It was completely frustrating. We were happily on our way out of the marriage.
Luckily, learning the importance of really listening to one another in our relationship hijacked that plan. It’s a story that my husband and I have told repeatedly to others to help encourage them on their journey.
Typically when things begin to go awry in a relationship, communication is the issue. Unless both parties understand how to really listen and share what their requests are, they will continuously struggle and eventually end up losing their relationship.
Listening is not hearing, though it involves hearing. It’s being careful to strip away all biases and personal stories that will confound what is being said and really making an effort to understand the other person’s view point, without attaching your own meaning to it. The latter is important.
On top of the challenges of uniting a blended household, our relationship had gotten to the point where we could not even talk to one another anymore. Every attempted conversation was a nightmare. When I made the effort to speak with my husband, he would find a way to make an interpretation of what I was saying in a completely different and shocking way from what I meant. I would often ask him, “How did you get that from what I said?”
Most of the times, the meaning he was attaching to what I was actually saying was completely off-base. Making the effort to correct him was met with even more resolve that “that’s not what you meant!”
Can you imagine my frustration? I would often lose my cool which would make matters worse. Of course, I too was a poor listener. On other occasions, when he tried to speak, I would cut him off to interject the thought that would just pop into my head for fear of forgetting it. I wasn’t fair to him either.
We were literally two strangers in the same house. The talking was reduced to silence and disdainful stares. I made certain that we were never in the same room or even on the same floor at the same time. When he walked in, I walked out. I felt like I hated him!
With teenagers who also attached their own meaning to what was said to them, the situation was unbearable, I wanted out! It couldn’t happen fast enough, and I waited in great anticipation for my freedom.
Here’s What Transformed the Listening In Our Marriage
During the interim, a miracle happened. There was an intervention during which my husband came to realize what he was actually doing. Though I had tried to tell him many times before, he actually got to the source of it, and admitted that he wasn’t aware of doing it before.
What he learned was that he actually wasn’t separating what I was saying to him (or what happened) from the story or meaning he had made about what I was saying to him. He had them collapsed as one.
For the first time, he started to see things from my perspective and he stopped forcing his story or meaning onto what I was really saying. I was in disbelief about the miracle before my eyes and was completely ecstatic about the results.
This was such a transformational occurrence that it restored my love and affinity for him. That in itself was appalling. I was quite certain that nothing could have, at that point, affected the direction we were taking. It wasn’t our first attempt and we had even sought intervention before.
Instead of being strangers in the same household, we became friends. We chased each other around the house, we laughed a lot, we listened and talked a lot, and even caught each other in the act of creating stories. It became fun and the transformation completely restored our friendship.
What about your relationship?
Looking at your relationship, are you having similar struggles? Are you the one making the stories or is your partner? Whether you are or not, both parties can begin to understand the other’s perspective by just listening, free of personal interpretations which are often based on one’s subconscious past experiences—which include fears that stop them—and not on what’s actually being said. Here’s a powerful training to stop your subconscious past and help with breakthroughs in your relationships.
Click below to access the training:
If you’re a woman in an opposite sex relationship, there’s also another important aspect to communicating with a guy to be aware of: setting the context for the conversation. There are huge gender differences when it comes to communicating which can be offset by learning and applying special techniques. For example, guys can easily feel nagged when you are innocently expressing a desire or request for something to change or to be different.
They may interpret your attempt at conversing to mean that you are trying to control them. Well of course, that interpretation is, under normal circumstances, wrong. However, let’s look at how you may lessen the possibility of that interpretation.
Before making your request, you could say, “I love when we are on the same page I feel really connected to you, and I’d like to share something that will strengthen our bond…” will probably break down any conversation barrier erected.
Another insight to creating a good relationship is to not assume you’re your partner knows what you want. Instead of thinking if he or she loves me, she would do…, you should just simply communicate what you’d like to experience.
People don’t read minds, and it’s not reasonable to expect your partner to know what you want or how you’d like to be treated. Let them know.
The communication between my husband and I are now free of the effects of our stories. When they come up, we both acknowledge that they are our stories and we deal with them without having them negatively impact our relationship.
Additionally, on occasions, I do make requests of how I’d like to be treated or what Id like to see happen. Mostly always they’re honored, but not always. When they’re not, I now have to watch the stories that I create around those instances and work to be careful that my ego doesn’t get in the way.
After all, though I believe that reasonable requests should be honored, I also have to work at understanding that my husband has a choice in the matter. Allowing him the freedom to make the choice without attaching my own meaning keeps our relationship one of give and take. I am also fully aware of my choices to enforce the boundaries that I have set for our relationship and to act accordingly without the presence of ego sabotaging my efforts.
Please let me know in your comments below about techniques that work or not, in your relationships.