I get it. You see your mate struggling. You see them unhappy, frustrated or stressed. And you have the solution! You probably even see the solution before your mate finishes what they’re saying. And there’s no sense in dwelling on the problem when the solution is in plain sight, right?
So you get a little impatient. Maybe you step in while they’re talking to show them how much you care about them and want to make them feel better by offering your solution.
Or maybe you wait for them to finish. But while they’re speaking, you decide to take a moment to think about how you might phrase your response most effectively. You might miss the last few sentences of what they’re saying, but it’s all in the name of making them feel better! It’s for their own good, so it’s okay, right?
Why? Because you’re attempting to fix the wrong problem.
At my last A New Approach To Us couples’ workshop, one of the guys said something that most ‘fixers’ can relate to, “I’m just trying to get around her feelings, so we can solve the real issue.”
Wow. That approach explains why so many people feel unheard and misunderstood in their relationship. She didn’t want him to solve what he felt the “real” issue was. What she simply wanted from him was to hear her out and acknowledge where she’s coming from. That’s it!
When your partner expresses dissatisfaction with something, it can lead you to feel sorry for them. So you take a sympathetic approach, by feeling sorry for what they’re going through and attempting to fix it.
In essence, what you’re saying translates to them that they shouldn’t be feeling however they’re feeling in the moment and you’re going to handle it for/with them.
But it doesn’t work because what they want is an empathetic approach. They don’t want you to feel sorry for them, but to make the effort to understand what they’re going through and acknowledge their emotion.
They want you to give them the space to be in their emotions and the comfort of companionship so they know you’re there for them to get through it at their own pace.
So how do you handle that? Simple. Try thinking of listening as a solution in and of itself. Sometimes, your mate just needs an ear, not your idea of how they should handle it.
Give them the space to express themselves and do your best to acknowledge their struggles. Listening is the best solution for that.
So what say you, folks? How do you handle the desire to ‘fix’ your partner’s issues? What other approaches might work in handling this type of situation as well?