Your Marriage - Let Go of Judgments and Connect Again

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					Your Marriage - Let Go of Judgments and Connect Again When you feel misunderstood
by your spouse or not listened to, what do you do next? Have you ever walked in the door
from a long difficult day at work with a lot on your mind and the first thing your spouse
tells you is how hard of a day he/she had? How do you feel at that moment? How do you
react to your spouse on the inside and outwardly? What thoughts are running through
your mind? How do you feel? Two very different responses might be. Response 1: You
begin to feel angry. You had a long hard day at work and now your spouse is not even
asking you how you feel but immediately talking about his day. You begin to think about
all the times you've felt ignored or disregarded by your spouse and the anger starts to
build inside of you. You start to ruminate on how selfish your spouse is and how he
doesn't care about your problems or how your day went. You blow up at our spouse and
start telling him how selfish he/she is being. He yells back at you. You each feel
misunderstood and rejected by the other. Response 2: As your spouse begins to speak,
you notice how tired you are feeling and you begin to realize your spouse is not aware of
the stress you are dealing with. You begin to remind yourself of how much you value
listening and caring for those close to you. You also want to share your own needs and
concerns. You begin to refocus on your spouse's need and you tell your spouse you need
a few minutes to change your clothes and freshen up. You also tell your spouse you
would like to hear about what happened during his day and share some things about your
day. Studies have shown that two important components in a healthy relationship are
empathy and being non-judgmental. What is empathy? In a non-judgmental way you are
able to comprehend the positive and negative aspects of a loved one. It is the ability to
put your-self into your spouses place and to try to experience what he is thinking and
feeling in the situation he is struggling with. What kind of an impact is the situation
having on him? Don't judge him for what he is experiencing just try to understand the
experience. Long & Angera (1999) talk about empathy and what it is:

The first step is to suspend your own thoughts and feelings about yourself. Be in the
moment with your spouse not anxiously thinking ahead about your own problems and
everything you need to do that evening. Empathic listening - now that you have put aside
your thoughts, feelings and judgments practice really listening to your spouse. Continue
to let go of judgments as you see them come into your mind. To show your spouse you
are really listening paraphrase back to your spouse your understanding of the situation.
Think about what your values are in a relationship. Try and create a relationship that
reflects both of your values. Do you value being listened to? Do you value helping others
with their problems? What do you and your spouse value in a relationship? Practice these
steps with each other. Nurture your relationship with acts of kindness and understanding.
Be in the moment and practice empathizing with each other. Let go of judgments and
don't ruminate on everything that has gone wrong in the past but instead focus on living
and relating in the moment. When thinking about the past, try and remember the caring
moments. You might find a deeper joy beginning to sprout in your relationship. This
takes practice. As human beings we can get caught up in an angry moment and begin
ruminating about the past and worrying about the future. Practice being in the here and
now! Reference: Lerner-Block, Jennifer (2007). Case for mindfulness-based approaches
in the cultivation of empathy: Does nonjudgmental, present-moment awareness increase
capacity for perspective-taking and empathic concern? Journal of Marital and Family
Therapy. Long, E.C.J., & Angera, J.J., Carter, S.J, Nakamoto, M. & Kalso, M. (1999).
Understanding the one you love: A longitudinal assessment of an empathy training
program for couples in romantic relationships. Family Relations, 48, 235-348. Donna
Deming, MSW I am a life coach specializing in
assisting men and women through midlife transitions. Please visit my website to learn
more about life coaching. If you are curious about life coaching please sign up for a free
30 minute no obligation coaching session and try it out. I mean it when I say no
obligation. I look forward to hearing from you. My credentials: masters in social work
from New York University and additional training at MentorCoach.

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