found myself explaining this on a friend’s thread and thought, I wonder how many others could benefit from this – so I’m sharing it here too:
I’m married and yes, of course there are times when one of us does something that the other finds annoying or hurtful or whatever. So what do we do? Something we were taught in marriage preparation and, though it can feel a bit weird at first, it works amazingly well:
We sit down and talk, taking turns so each one gets to speak uninterrupted and express how they feel, then the other one reflects back: so you feel yada yada when I yada yada and you’d feel more loved/appreciated/cherished if I yada yada instead? (Really important not to interrupt – not even with a “yes, I know”, not to mention a “but…” – just let the other person say what they need to say, and listen – you’re going to have to tell them at the end what you think they said, so you really need to listen properly, rather than thinking what you’re going to say.)
After we’ve both been listened to properly, knowing we’ve been heard and understood, we can talk about possible alternatives and what ifs and stuff. We can do it calmly, without feeling it’s some kind of battle – because we’ve each been heard and understood, we’ve had our feelings acknowledged, and… I guess the really important thing that happens as a result is the really clear sense that we’re in this together – not two sides to a battle, but a couple standing together and trying to find the best way forward for us as a couple.
It has worked for us amazingly well, each and every time over the years. I highly recommend it, and am very grateful to the people who taught us this simple method – it was the best wedding present ever!