When each person feels understood, the healing power of validation becomes real.
In our last article, we described an episode in the life of a couple, we called “Frank and Faye.” The argument illustrated was an example of the same one they had over and over in different forms during their 25 years of marriage. The good news is they also enjoyed many positive experiences, as well. They just had difficulty getting over the negative feelings when the argument ended, and they were feeling unheard, frustrated, disconnected and distant. There’s more good news, as well.
They decided they were sick and tired of being “sick and tired.” They were getting stuck so often, and longer than either one wanted. Both were ready to explore their options. So, they got help as a couple. What they quickly discovered was the work to be done was personal and individual, within their relationship.
To their delight and surprise, Frank and Faye found success. They overcame their communication problems. They were no longer arguing, misunderstanding and not hearing each other – therefore not hurting each other when they disagreed. Both became aware of the root of their communication problem as well as the solution.
Then, they discovered what they could and could not change when their communication broke down:
- They could not change the other person.
- They could not change the feelings that were activated when they were triggered by the other. However, they can learn to manage those feelings more effectively.
- They could change how they interpreted the meaning behind each other’s frustrating behaviors.
Here are some examples of what Frank and Faye learned:
- After they discovered the negative impact they had on each other when they were in the “heat of the moment,” they began to be more compassionate to themselves and each other.
- Then, individually, they discovered how vulnerable they were beneath the surface of their upsetting feelings; and, they learned what they could about them.
- Next, they were able to expand on that compassion and extend it to each other as they became aware of what the other person was experiencing beneath the surface of anger and frustration. They no longer assumed that the other person deliberately intended to be hurtful or had ill-will.
- They could change how they reacted that consistently led to feelings of distance and disconnection.
Instead of a spontaneous knee-jerk reaction, they could first cool down first and think through what they wanted to say to each other more proactively and effectively. Frank and Faye took this approach and had better results. Here’s an example what they decided to change:
- Faye no longer keeps talking in desperation to reconnect with Frank. She now understands the impact of the intensity of her demanding that Frank talks to her when he is not ready on serves to push him further away. Now, when she is feeling discomfort when Frank gets triggered, she takes a “time out” to remind herself how Frank becomes sensitive when compared to anyone. She is doing a better job of asking Frank what she wants in a way he can hear her.
- Frank no longer retreats and shuts down when he is feeling pain and overwhelm when communication breaks down. Since he now understands the impact of how this reaction leaves Faye feeling rejected and abandoned, he takes a “time out” to remind himself that what Faye needs are understanding and affection. He decided he would take whatever time he needed to give her that.
The Outcome? The more they implemented the four steps of what they could change, the closer and more connected they felt. This is because feeling heard does indeed heal.
Another surprise: While Frank and Faye did their individual work from the inside out, they also discovered ways to have more positive experiences that fostered happiness, love, fun, intimacy, and respect.
How did they do that?
They began with taking advantage of our Communicate to Connect Video Workshop at http://JesseandMelva.com. This complimentary 3-part video series helped Frank and Faye to discover their next step to creating a communication breakthrough in their relationship. Try it. It might help you too!
To Your Relationship Success,
Jesse and Melva Johnson
Learn more about them by visiting their website, www.jesseandmelva.com!
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