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The listener’s job

February 11, 2013

Here’s a life-changing idea…                                                                                                                          

In their book, What Makes Love Last?, John Gottman and Nan Silver say,

“The listener’s goal is to appreciate the partner’s emotions—their meaning and history, and whatever events may have escalated the conflict or hurt feelings” (p. 121).

In other words…

When our partners are upset our first instinct may be to give advice or fix the problem. We want to take action, or at least offer words of encouragement that will improve their mood. These things, though well-intentioned, aren’t always helpful. What our partners need most in times of pain is to feel like they are being heard and understood.

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

The next time your partner is upset, resist the urge to fix the problem. Put your focus on your partner. Listen to his or her thoughts and feelings. Show that you are more interested in your partner than the problem. Feeling heard and accepted will help your partner feel more hopeful and better prepared to solve the problem.


To find out more…

check out The Marriage Garden program at, like us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You might also enjoy reading What Makes Love Last?

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