Last night I sat down on the couch feeling defeated. My husband was watching TV and absently shot me the, “What’s up with you”, question. I broke down crying. He looked at me bewildered and immediately turned off the TV.
I began to tell him the reasons why I felt overwhelmed. He countered with his “fix it” ideas, that I didn’t want to hear. I just wanted to be listened to and consoled. Why can’t men be more like women?
I explained why each of his ideas wouldn’t work and delved deeper into my issues. I had to make him understand. His lack of understanding made me feel that he didn’t care about me. I was going to change that. He’d understand and then care about my feelings.
The next thing that happened, floored me; He fell asleep on me. I know he was tired, but hey, if he could stay awake watching TV, then I would think that I should be as important.
I got up and went to bed. He woke up a few minutes later and called his Mom to talk for 10 minutes. Then he came to bed, unaware that he had just broken my heart.
So what did I contribute to this scenario? How could I have helped my husband listen to me? I did some research this morning and came up with this list. Hope it helps me next time.
1. Timing is everything- Pick a time when your spouse is comfortable and wide awake. Give them a heads up to help them be reading to talk with you.
2. Choose the mood- Make sure that your spouse is in a good mood, and able to take on your problems. Make sure that they are vigilant and that their brain is in high working order. The end of the day, right before bed is not a good time.
3. Lose the distractions- Make sure that TV, cell phones and other distractors are far away. You want uninterrupted quality time to talk.
4. Face your partner- Don’t sit side by side them on a couch. You need constant eye contact to keep them interacting with you.
5. Ask for their help- Tell them exactly what you want them to do. Explain that you want them to listen to you and console you. Tell them that if you need advice, that you will ask for it.
6. Consider your approach- Don’t be whining, or complaining, or nagging. Focus on the seeable facts.
7. Don’t beat around the bush- Just come out and say what you mean. Guys don’t like it when women “fly around the airport.”
8. Thank them for their help- By coming up with suggestions my husband was showing me that he loved and cared about me. He wanted to “fix” my problems, so that I wouldn’t hurt anymore. I should have thanked him for trying to help, instead of shooting down each of his solutions.
9. Don’t bring up the past- This shuts down peoples’ ability to want to listen.
10. Stay positive, using I statements- This one was impossible for me last night. I was discouraged. I used I statements, but they didn’t make a difference. Many times when I use “I feel” he thinks that I am trying to control him. His line of reasoning, because I feel…he has made me feel that way…that is why I am complaining…so I am actually putting him down. I don’t know why every time I have a feeling, he has to be mad at me. Why can’t I have permission to feel the way I want to?