Listen first, then fix

August 12, 2010

in Communication, Understanding Her

About three months ago my bride posted the following:

Guys are fixers.  And, honestly, they love to fix stuff for the ones they love.

I remember awhile back, I had a melt down. I’m usually pretty even tempered, so it takes more than a bit to put me over the edge. I’d been putting up with a situation that was difficult for a number of months and in one “there goes the camel’s back” moment I came to the end of what I could put up with.

I took a deep breath, announced that I was going for a walk, and made my way to the door. Bless my hubby, he asked to go along and patiently listened to me rattle off a litany of miseries (complete with tears and lots of hand waving), gave me the occasional hug and lots of understanding grunts (guys grunt well). When I finally calmed down, he helped me talk about what the problems really were and we brainstormed ways of dealing with as many of them as we could.

Later he told me how much it meant to him that I let him help “fix the problem.” It meant a great deal to him to be able to do something for me that had made my life better. He felt capable, needed and appreciated.

Tip of the day: let your husband fix something.

One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop. G.M. Weilacher

The side of this that we guys need to understand is the need she has to talk – to share – to whine and cry even. As difficult as it is for us guys to understand, she needs to talk about the problem more than she needs to solve it. Or, at the very least, she needs to talk about it in detail before she hears any suggestions on how to solve it.

This means offering her the perfect solution before she is done talking is not going to earn you points with her. Even if she is able to hear and apply the solution you offer, and even if it works out well, the odds are you would be more appreciated if you had honestly listened and done nothing to help. That said, if you can learn to hear her out, to hear not just the facts, but also the emotions and how the situation makes her feel – and do that regularly, she will probably learn to “put up with” your desire to offer a solution.

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