Every day I talk to couples where neither person is really aware of what their partner is thinking or feeling. I ask him how he’s doing, and he says, “Okay, I guess.” When I ask him how SHE is doing, the answer is the same. But when I ask HER how she’s doing, she says she’s miserable.
Obviously, neither of them is talking to the other. Why? People generally have little to no Real Love in their lives, so they are completely unequipped to offer real emotional support to a partner. If their partner looks unhappy, they just shrug their shoulders and think—usually unconsciously—“I have no idea how do deal with this, so I ain’t asking.”
Sometimes it helps just to know how to ask a partner how they’re doing. We tend to ask stupid things like this:
“What’s wrong with you?” That fails on so many levels, I won’t begin to point them out.
“What’s the matter?” Our partner usually completes that question in his or her head, “What’s the matter with YOU?” Again, that will never work.
“You wanna beer?”
“What’s for dinner?”
There really are ways to ask for this important information without including an implied attack or dismissal. The first key to finding out how your partner is feeling is to WATCH THEIR FACE. If you pay attention, you can tell immediately if something is wrong, and simply by noticing this, you’ve taken the first step—perhaps the most important one—toward learning and taking action.
People walk around with their feelings tattooed to their foreheads, but we tend to see this better under three conditions:
- We’re not afraid to see that something is wrong. If we’re afraid, we won’t even look.
- We WANT to know. We care enough to know.
- We have some idea of how to respond if something is wrong. If we have no notion of unconditional love, we’ll be clueless how to help our partner, which also tends to make us not want to find out if there is a problem.
So now let’s suppose you can see that something is not quite right with your partner. What can you say? Just a few suggestions:
- "It looks like something might be wrong. Want to talk about it?" There’s no accusation, and you’re expressing a desire to listen.
- "Is there anything I can do for you?" Your first words are an offer to help, which can be quite disarming. And if you’re offering to help, you’re giving your partner an opportunity to express the problem.
- "How are you doing?" The tone of voice here matters a lot, but if your tone is sincere and compassionate, usually you’ll learn at this point what’s going on with your partner.
- “Sweetie, what would you like to do? Right now I’ll stop everything and do whatever you’d like.”
We go to great lengths to maintain the health of our bodies and prolong our lives, which we hold in high regard. Relationships are unspeakably precious—even more so than life, because without them life rarely becomes more than a joyless struggle simply to survive.
It’s worth doing whatever you can to look after the welfare and happiness of your partner and in the process maintain the relationship that gives you an abundant life.
Find genuine happiness now and forever.
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