My mind is swirling about things that I want to write about. I want so badly to make a difference in people’s
lives. Then I think about how I have looked at others that have made a difference. I thought of a great woman that has Really Truly made a difference in so many lives, and I think, I can’t follow her, she’s gotten divorced three times, what would she know about marriages. Or another guy that speaks and does research, I think, wow, he doesn’t have it together, he’s on his fourth marriage!!!
Then, I look at myself, I’m on my second marriage, I don’t always do what I tell others to do and my husband and I struggle at times to feel close. I feel afraid to tell my husband some of my deepest feelings. Then I read a little more I think a little more and I try a little more.
I say all this to encourage empathy. No, not for me!! But for everyone. I put myself in either of the two marriage leaders above and think about what they have accomplished. One has done tremendous studies about empathetic listening. No, he probably doesn’t have it down pat, but maybe he’s still trying like me.
The other writes wonderful books that encourages so many women in their marriages. Maybe she didn’t really cause the demise of her marriage, but made some choices unknowingly that lead to the divorce.
We don’t know where others are coming from. We tend to look at others with such critical eyes. I am not saying to accept everything everyone says without discernment. But we need to look at the whole picture. Look with discerning eyes.
This should not get me off the hook in practicing what I preach. I need to do what I suggest others to do. I need to look at others and see the good first then discern what I believe.
Couples many times have a very hard time with this. I have found in the many classes that I have taught that when a couple starts applying the skill of empathetic listening they seem to have a better ability to work through conflict.
No, empathetic listening is not the same as mirroring. Many of my students tend to repeat whatever their spouse says without listening for the feelings behind it. (I’m speaking to myself more than others) Here’s an example. Husband: “You shrank my favorite pair of pants, don’t you know how to do the wash?” Wife: “You’re angry about your favorite pants being shrunk?” Husband: “No, I’m angry because this is the 3rd time you’ve done this?” Wife: “You are frustrated that I have done this more than one time and feel that I am not paying attention to the wash and what settings I put the machine on?” Husband: “Yes, It seems that you get distracted when doing the laundry, I would like you either to not do my clothes or check with me before you do the wash.” Wife, ” so you would like for me to stop including your clothes with my clothes?”
Husband, “No, if you would check with me I think it might work better and I can remind you of how to set it up. ……
Believe it or not when you respectfully have conversation and mention each other’s feelings and clarify the feelings behind it many conflicts can be worked through. The above conversation could be construed as non-respectful, so the other part of this is to convey respect in your body language too.
Does anyone else have some experience with this or an example of how it worked for you?