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I Just Want My Partner to Understand Me

In my practice and at our Marriage Prep 101 Workshops, I hear many couples say, ” I just want my partner to understand me.”

We all want to be seen and validated in that way. You share with your partner whatever it may be, they truly get what you say and you feel understood. And vice versa: your partner shares their deepest feelings and thoughts with you, you receive what they say, and everyone in the end feels understood – and loved.

It doesn’t always work that way though, does it?

There are many reasons why couples don’t always feel as understood or validated from their partner as they wish they did. The top reason though, is that people naturally have a hard time holding onto 2 different perspectives at the same time… especially if they don’t agree.

Here is a powerful shift in thinking that can change this.

Imagine this conversation between two partners:

Partner A: What you just said felt offensive to me.
Partner B: Offensive?? You need to toughen up. I always have to walk on eggshells around you.

Those partners are on now their way down the rabbit hole where no one feels understood. These types of exchanges happen all the time.

But what if the partners acknowledged this simple principle:

You do not have to agree with what your partner is saying.

Think about it. You probably disagree with many things your partner says… details they recall, reactions they have as well as their perspective. The thing is that you are two different people, so you won’t always see things the same way. That is not the problem. The problem is what you do with that difference.

You might argue that you are right. Or, you might cave in and agree with your partner in order to keep peace, at the risk of building resentment. Neither approach works very well.

Let’s imagine a different conversation using the principle above:

Partner A: What you just said felt offensive to me.
Partner B:  Oh? I didn’t mean it to come across that way, it wasn’t my intention to hurt you. Tell me more about how my behavior felt hurtful to you?

In that scenario, you are holding onto your authenticity in terms of naming your intention, but you are also eliciting your partner’s  reality– which is different than yours.  No, it is not weak to do this, it is actually takes a lot of strength and courage.

Here’s the bottom line. Your goal should be to represent your point of view, but to make room and hold your partner’s point of view as well, even when you don’t agree with it. This takes practice, skill, effort and motivation.

In return, you and your partner will reap some happily-ever-after relationship rewards!  Consider joining us for an upcoming Marriage Prep 101 Workshop, where you will have the opportunity to practice the skills listed here, and so much more!

We hope to see you soon 🙂

Dan and Michelle Joy

Marriage Prep 101

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