“I hear you” also means “I love you”.
“If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence”. ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Understanding is the basis of love! Being present to each other’s feelings (even negative ones!) will improve your relationship and enhance intimacy by providing a safe space for you and your partner. Think about a time that you really felt heard and understood. How did it make you feel? How did you feel about the other person? How did you feel about yourself?
Understanding can help create feelings of acceptance, respect, connection, and can also aid in problem solving and compromise. When you both have the opportunity to hear and understand why each other’s position is so important, you can stop fighting so hard and can look at where you agree. During a fight, both you and your partner are in pain. The next time you are having a difficult discussion, how might your relationship change if you have the idea in mind: “I am here for you”, “your pain is my pain”?
I know. This is hard! It doesn’t feel good to see your partner upset (especially when it is directed at you!), but giving your partner your full presence is a beautiful gift that will improve your emotional connection. Here’s how to do it!
1) Take some deep breaths. Slow down. Set and intention to understand and connect. Taking a pause to breath will help lower your blood pressure and de-escalate strong feelings. You don’t always have control over your feelings, but you DO have control on how you respond to them.
2) Temporarily shelve your agenda. Really take time to listen. You won’t be able to hear your partner if you are trying to formulate your response in your head. Don’t jump to problem solving or advice giving, just be present.
3) Ask questions to help you understand. Be curious and act interested! What is your partner feeling and why? Where might it be coming from? What else is there? Do not ask questions that push your agenda or guide your partner in a certain direction- Ask to Understand. Good questions to keep in mind: What do you feel? and What do you need?
4) Summarize what you heard. This will help make sure you heard what was said. Don’t make assumptions. Ask for clarification if needed!
5) Empathize. Empathizing does NOT mean that you agree with your partner. Empathizing means listening to your partner’s feelings, putting yourself in their shoes, and communicating understanding of their feelings.
These are good skills to practice even when not in an argument to help build feelings of connection. Be kind to yourself if it is challenging. You can do this!