1. When your partner comes to you with a frustration, concern, or is just upset about something, stop and listen. Be interested. Say, “You seem upset. What’s going on?”
2. Paraphrase what your partner shares by saying, “So what I’m hearing you say is ____” and repeat back your understanding of what you heard them say. Check for accuracy. Let them clarify.
3. Don’t be a problem solver. Let go of your agenda. If you have a potential solution or feedback, check in with your partner to see if they are in a place to hear it. You might say, “I’ve got a couple of ideas that may help with the situation, do you want to hear them?” Remember, it’s not personal if they don’t. They just aren’t ready.
In his book What Makes Love Last?, Dr. Gottman explains that your role as a listener is to understand your partner’s point of view, respond non-defensively, and practice empathy. Problem-solving comes after understanding, not before, otherwise, any proposed solution will create disconnection and resentment.
So, learn to show up for your partner. Day after day.
As you continue forward on your wedding planning and marital preparation journey, be mindful of the opportunities to connect with your partner. These connection opportunities may come in the form of crisis, stress, and frustration, but if you can learn to utilize them in positive ways, you will be actively setting up your marriage for long-term success.
This article was originally published on The Gottman Relationship Blog.
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