How Fear Stops Us Connecting in Relationships

Deep listening involves:

  • Imagining your partners world – Stepping into their shoes
  • Hearing your partner – you don’t have to agree with what they are saying but take a moment to really HEAR them in a new way.
  • Seeing the world through their eyes.

How FEAR blocks this:

  • Sometimes we fear that if we step into their world we will:
  • be swallowed up by their pain – we won’t.
  • never be strong enough to hold true to our own reality – we will
  • never hear the end of their issue – they are likely to feel more validated and more resolved
  • need to give them something or do something for them, to take their pain away – we don’t have to.

Part of what makes therapy so wonderful is that we are heard in a non-judgemental, curious way. There is no criticism, no loaded questions, none of the baggage that is present in an intimate relationship.

The power of the deep listening that occurs in therapy is VALIDATION. Often our partners find it difficult to be with us in our pain because of their own wounds. They are afraid to really go into the hurt with us because they may never come out. They may feel like if they feel our pain, then they will never be able to disagree with us on this topic again.

Another common misconception is that if you really stand in their shoes, on some level you will be agreeing with them, and then your position will be weakened. What actually happens is the opposite!

Imagine you are trying to make your partner understand how sad you feel about her long work hours and the disconnect you feel in your relationship. You have had the discussion a thousand times. She is working long hours to get a promotion she really wants; she is defensive and rolls her eyes.

BUT THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT. She stops. She imagines how it might feel for you, wanting to have more time with her. She notices how tired she has been and acknowledges that she hasn’t has much energy for the relationship recently. Suddenly, you feel HEARD. You feel validated. She may not change the hours she is working, but you feel heard and understood.

There is a coming together, rather than a pushing apart.

*Gottman Method Couples Therapy – John & Julie Gottman