The article was a follow-up to an earlier posting on "What Not to Say to a Loved One Who is Upset." In the earlier article I suggested some simple guidelines for being supportive -- like not jumping in with problem-solving too quickly, not demanding rationality , validating and respecting feelings, exploring a range of feelings and giving time for your partner to express himself or herself.
For some reason, many men jumped all over this and thought that this would make them less manly, "wusses," weaker, doormats, it would reinforce whining and would sacrifice any opportunities to deal with things rationally.
And, of course, rationality and problem-solving are also important.
(It's ironic that some people might think that I don't care about rationality and problem-solving. ) If you want to get a sense of the irrational way that we can think about our relationships, check out my post, "The 12 Worst Relationship Mindsets." I try to describe a number of common negative patterns of thinking that are ultimately self-defeating and I suggest a few different ways to think about your relationship.
No question about it, these hurtful and painful ways of relating are stressful and exhausting.
It was interesting to me that a lot of the men who responded did express the very beliefs that I was targeting -- views that women are "too emotional," they just go on and on forever, they can't think rationally, and that they are largely a burden. The guidelines for being a good listener are not just for men.One husband described this bluntly: “When I get home my dog is the only one who seems excited to see me!” Make this year a break-through year in your relationship by trying three powerful empathy skills to deepen your love for each other. Focus on those qualities and strengths that you honor and respect in your partner.When I experience my partner understanding and validating what’s going on for me, I feel valued, cared for, even soothed.When I experience harshness, criticism and invalidation, its like salt on an open wound.