by Gladys Diaz
This week has been somewhat of a challenging one. I could feel that something was “off” in the way my husband and I were communicating and relating, and it bothered me. In the past, when my husband would get quiet or withdrawn, I’d keep badgering him about how we needed to communicate and talk and resolve our issues, even when it was clear that he didn’t want to or wasn’t ready to do that. My incessant nagging didn’t do anything to increase the communication or the intimacy, and would just lead to him getting angry, yelling something at me, which, in turn would have me dive head-first into “victim mode” and wonder why I ever chose to marry someone who could be so mean!
The truth is that the reason I wanted to talk about things now was because I felt uncomfortable sitting in that space where I couldn’t control when we would talk or know what was going on. I wanted to resolve the problem now and have everything be great again. However, badgering him to try to get him to talk to me wasn’t leading to having the type of conversation I wanted to have anyway, so I learned to let go of the need to control and just allow things to unfold naturally.
When my husband finally did tell me that he wanted to speak to me, I was scared. What was he going to say? Are we okay? What would have him be this quiet and upset? Again, I had to breathe, let go, and trust that, even if I didn’t like what he had to say, we were okay and we’d work through it somehow.
Sometimes we need to listen with our hearts as well as our ears.
Well, I was right. I didn’t particularly like hearing what he had to say. See, as a dating and relationship coach, I really do make every effort to practice what I preach. But that’s not always the case. I make mistakes. I say or do things I shouldn’t and sometimes I don’t say or do the things that I should. I don’t like admitting it, but it’s true. Having a great relationship is not about being perfect or always getting it right. It’s also about realizing that we, and therefore, our relationships, are works in progress. So I sat and listened to what he had to say and resisted the urge to defend myself or contradict him. And, as he spoke, I listened for his “heart message.”
The heart message is the message behind the words the person is saying. Sometimes, even behind something that sounds like a complaint or criticism, there is a bigger, more vulnerable message asking to be heard. It would have been easy to only hear the things my husband was saying as complaints about what I was doing “wrong.” However, rather than get upset or defensive, I listened with my heart as well, and the message that came through loud and clear was, “I love you and I’m committed to this marriage being the best it can be.” Listening from that space, I was able to see how blessed I am to be married to a man who is willing to have a conversation about how to make our marriage even better than it already is. It made me feel good to know that I love a man who is not satisfied with having a good marriage, because he’s as committed as I am to making it work! And that made it easier for me to see what I could do to bring as much happiness, love and intimacy to our relationship.
So, the next time your husband or boyfriend – or anyone else in your life – comes to you with something that sounds like a complaint or criticism, try to listen with your heart. Listen for the pain, the desire, or the need behind the persons words. And, most importantly, listen for the love as you listen in love.
Listening for the heart message is one of the Intimacy Skills we’ll be discussing on the next Relationship Coaching call for Girlfriends and Wives that I lead as part of a program we offer in partnership with Laura Doyle. Click here to participate and enjoy the rewards of love, peace, and intimacy these skills can bring to your life.
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