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Seek first to understand

January 20, 2012

Here’s a great idea…

In their book, Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, John and Julie Gottman say, “Understanding must come before advice. In other words, it’s better to let your partner get all his or her feelings out and for you to try to understand those feelings, before you begin problem solving or exploring what to do.” (p. 216)

In other words…

When our partners are explaining a situation and how it makes them feel, we should not jump to conclusions or offer advice before we have the whole story. If we do, our partners will feel more frustrated and resentful than helped and cared for. Sometimes all our partners need is a sympathetic ear.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…

The next time your partner is sharing their feelings with you about an issue, take time to listen to everything they have to say. Ask clarifying questions. Check with your partner to see if you understood them correctly. When you understand your partner’s feelings, then you can decide together if the situation needs solving.

To find out more…

about couple relationships, check out The Marriage Garden program at arfamilies.org, follow us at facebook.com/navigatinglife or contact your local county Extension agent. You can also read Gottman’s Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage.

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