In our marriage, the first time that Nancy was emotional over a relationship with a friend, I handled it like a guy. I said things like, “get over it,” “she’s not that good of a friend anyway,” and “it’s not worth getting upset about.” With our strong personalities, this situation soon turned into a fight. Now all of a sudden I was the bad guy and I had no clue why. I do give Nancy a lot of credit. She tried to tell me what she was thinking and feeling. I just did not hear her. I was so sure that she was making a big deal out of nothing that I basically ignored her.
Honestly, in those early years of marriage, I was a really slow learner. It took a long time before the idea came to me that her feelings, emotions, and how she viewed situations might actually be valid. I am really not sure what made the difference but I think I finally began to listen to her and tried to hear what she was saying.
Today there are still times that I do not get her responses but I am different. I listen better. I consciously try to put myself in her shoes. I ask myself, “What does this situation look like through Nancy’s eyes?” and “How is her perspective different than mine?” Those two questions, coupled with taking time to listen and process before I respond, has made a huge difference for us. I can truly empathize with her without judging.
What about you and your spouse? What if you took time to put yourself in their shoes? What if you really listened to them when they were sharing something with you that was important to them? What if you ask yourself how this looks through their eyes? What if you acknowledge that you would handle the situation in a different way without judging their way of handling it? It changed so much for me and my marriage. Why not try it? What is holding you back?