Sharing the bad stuff

Yesterday I showed how sharing details about good things makes you feel better. What about sharing the bad things?

Man comforting wife © Alvera |

Studies have found we remember bad events longer than good ones, and go over bad events in our heads much more (NYT article on a study about this). Therefore, whether we talk about it or not, it will be going through our minds. For most people talking about something allows it to be processed faster, so talking usually speeds healing from painful events. Beyond this, knowing what happened to our spouse, and understanding how they are feeling about it, allows us to help them and make necessary accommodations.

An important thing in this is fighting the urge to fix the issue before your wife has shared as fully as she needs. She has a deep need to share her feelings with you, which takes time. If you start to fix too fast you cut her off and leave her feeling unheard and unloved. Say things to help her know you are listening, and ask questions designed to help her say everything she needs to say. If you do not have any solution, that is okay – her biggest need is for you to hear her. Give her understanding and sympathy first, and only offer advice after she feels heard.

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One Comment on “Sharing the bad stuff

  1. In the positions survey, it would have been nice to have had another option besides “Never tried”, “Dislike” and “Okay”. Something like “Tried, but doesn’t work for us”, as in, we tried it and didn’t dislike it, but it wasn’t “Okay” either.

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