“I Don't Need You to Fix This!”-or maybe I do...a quick guide to knowing the difference
There are two reasons we communicate:
1. to pass along information for problem solving (who, what, where, etc.)
2. to feel understood.
Information can be disputed, proven or disproved. Information is gathered until we have a solution or a fix.
Feelings don't need to be proven or disproved, they don't need a fix. We express feelings to be understood or supported.
Often couples place a bulk of their communication in the “fix it” pile. The pattern of this is rather predictable. Rick: “I had a bad day at work today, my boss is such a jerk. I feel so inadequate” (feeling) Steve:“well you know what you should do...you should talk to him and your HR to get him to stop.” (fix) Rick: “obviously I know what I can do…” (frustration) Steve: “Well it just keeps happening…” (frustration) Rick: “Never mind.” (shut down)
Does this happen in your relationship? Do you try to fix situations that don't need fixes? It can be frustrating when we don't know what our partner wants from us in a conversation. This often leads to neither partner knowing their role and not feeling heard or understood. The conversation is shut down.
How to set the scene
Start with “I don't need a fix for this….I just want to blow off steam.” or “I want your opinion on this, I'm not sure what to do.”
While this may not feel organic, it will help both you and your partner to recognize what their role is in the conversation. After that, all you have to do is listen and be curious about what they are saying. The pressure is off to come up with a brilliant fix or a quick rebuttal. You can just be present. Sounds peaceful right? Try it and be kind to each other if it is misconstrued. Doing so can allow conversations to flow more freely.
Rodney is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional with 10+ years experience working with couples of all shapes and sizes. Contact Rodney at 603-892-9777 or at www.603counseling.com to learn more and schedule your free 15min consultation.