Set Fixing and Solving Aside. Your Relationship Needs You to Only Listen and Empathize.

Set Fixing and Solving Aside. Your Relationship Needs You to Only Listen and Empathize.

“The more you need people to agree with you, the less open you are to what they think, feel and believe. You cannot share with them because you are trying to change them, and they cannot share with you because you are not listening.”  ~ Gary Zukav

The temptation is to come to solutions with your partner, to figure the problem out that’s causing anger or resentment between you. But what if you did something quite different? What if you put the need to fix or solve to the side and instead focused just on connecting?

What would that look like?

Sitting together, perhaps a candle lit, one of you shares how you are feeling. The other responds with listening and empathy, only. No defending, no fixing, tempting as it is. And then the other shares what they are feeling, with their beloved listening and making empathetic statements. Back and forth you go, connecting in this way.

Throughout, you are vigilant about the impulse to fix/solve (and defend). Because the impulse is strong it must be watched carefully so your mental positions can be set aside and you remain connected, centred in the heart and vulnerability.

I find it powerful and moving to watch the couples I work with engage this way. The amount of presence and surrender (of control, of knowing), asks much of them. Sometimes they give themselves to this process for an hour, or more. And what happens is quite magical:

1. The solution organically comes from the connection. It arises naturally with far less mental influence / figuring out.

2. Or, at the end of the conversation no solution is needed. The deepened connection gives them what they were ultimately looking for all along—feeling seen, heard, valued, loved, connected.

It’s not an easy practice. We have been conditioned to figure things out, to use our mind to solve our problems, rather than rely on the feeling heart. We have been conditioned to know versus rest in not knowing—rest in connection. We have learned to do it alone, separate from others. We have learned not to trust others, to not feel safe being open and vulnerable. And we haven’t learned how to skillfully express our feelings and give empathy.

For these reasons and more (including the built-up resentment and acrimony in the relationship), it becomes simpler, quicker and safer to default to fixing (and complaining). What suffers is our wellbeing, and that of the relationship. You remain disconnected inside and out. This then ripples into the energetic climate of the home, affecting the children.

This form of connecting takes time, as you can imagine. And so another reason couples don’t do this is because they are exhausted by day end and barely have the energy to watch Netflix.

And yet, the car needs to be taken in for a pitstop. The tires are bare, the window muddied, fuel is running low. The relationship, more than once a year, needs tending to. Time must be set aside multiple times a month to connect without correcting, without directing, without needing to go to solutions. To feel, share, hear, acknowledge, for the sake of simply connecting, for the sake of being with the other in their world.

Doing this with your partner makes it easier to do it with yourself, and your children. Not easy, but a very worthwhile and necessary practice.

I recommend scheduling two nights a month, such as every second Wednesday, to connect this way. Your bi-monthly check-in, bi-monthly date, your time to share “How am I?” and ask, “How are you?” and “How are we doing?” 


Check out Vince’s book: Wild Empty Spaces ~ Poems for the Opening Heart

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