I am one of the most pragmatic people you could meet. This is great for my occupation, not for my marriage. My wife [37F] has given me the same feedback for years. I always try to solve her problems, explain her role in creating them, or suggest behavioral changes she could make to avoid them altogether. Obviously this does not go over well. I’m fully aware of this and yet am mostly powerless to recognize it is happening until it is far too late. I need training. What are some resources I could use to help me be more supportive of my wife in the moment rather than after the damage is done? I’m currently looking for a helpful book, but there is so much material out there I’d like to start with something proven. Hopefully a lobotomy is not my only option. Thanks in advance.
Lots of suggestions on how to be empathetic. The problem is my current inability to recognize these situations before I’ve opened my mouth. I know how to support and empathize. It doesn’t come naturally to me and is often too little too late. I think I’m really looking for advice on how to build the habit of listening/supporting first instead of solving.
Instead of problem solving and giving your opinion, ask, “Are you venting or would you like me to help you figure out what to do about it?” And then stick with it.
I know you’re looking for a book or something substantial, but this one is actually as simple as the other comments are making it. When your wife comes to you with something, ask her if she is venting or looking for a solution. Then proceed based on what she says.
If she is just looking to vent, then validate her emotions: “I can totally see where that would make you feel XYZ. Is there anything I can do for you?” What she needs may not have anything to do with the problem, she might just need cuddles or dinner or to go to bed early and check out of her household responsibilities for the night. She might not need anything from you other than a listening ear and some support.
Empathise, empathise, validate.
For example: what I’m hearing you say is (xyz), I can imagine that must be very stressful….
Encouragement if necessary. Then if advice is needed, proceed with dais advice 🙂
Pragmatic guy here too, married for 27 years next month and it took me far longer than I am comfortable to admit to learn this lesson. Far, far longer.
[It actually finally sank in during this episode of Parks and Rec, I’d skip the books and take this to heart](https://matthewlauphotography.com/2018/06/17/that-sucks/)
You don’t seem to be unwilling to not problem solve, you just don’t realize that’s what you’re doing until it’s too late. I think your issue is that you need a visual or verbal cue, outside of body language, that will alert you to not go into problem fixing mode.
An example could be a stuffed animal. Whenever your wife is holding that specific stuffed animal, you shut the fuck up and give her a hug and you keep your damn mouth shut unless the words coming out of your mouth are “I love you”. When she hands you the stuffed animal, then you are allowed to talk. If she never gives it to you, then you don’t get to talk about that subject.
Any time she is even mildly upset about anything, you offer the stuffed animal if she hasn’t already grabbed it herself. Over time your reliance on it will not be so severe.
This is just an example, but your wife should be the one that decides how she can tell you to shut the fuck up and just listen. It just can’t be the status quo, because that hasn’t worked. Get creative.
Ask your wife to tell you immediately as soon as you start doing it. Tell her you really want to improve this but you need a little help to rewire your brain. Your wife will probably be able to recognize it right away and she should literally interrupt you and say ‘you’re doing it’ or some other code word to make you stop in your tracks.
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