Sometimes she's upset by something that happened that day, to her or to someone else. Sometimes she has concerns about the relationship. Sometimes she has complaints about something you are doing or not doing as her husband. Sometimes she's just stressed after a long day at the office and needs someone to vent to. Whatever the situation, you can listen to your wife's feelings in a supportive way that brings you both closer in the end.
Give her your undivided attention
Turn off the football game, put down your iPhone and make eye contact with your wife while she's talking. Send your children or noisy pets out of the room and clear away any other distractions. You may even want to put your phone on silent. Paying attention to her will show her that you care about her feelings.
Make physical contact
While she is talking, caress her hands, stroke her hair, or put your arms around her. This will create a feeling of safety and trust, which will allow her to express her feelings more fully. Touching her can assure her that you love her, no matter what she is feeling, and that you don't judge her.
When your wife is confiding in you about her feelings, let her speak, uninterrupted as long as she needs to. Don't feel responsible for filling in any gaps or long silences, or to respond to her feelings with solutions or ideas. You most likely have feelings of your own to express. This is not the time. Allow her to feel fully heard by giving her the floor as long as she needs before you reflect and respond with your own feelings.
Don't take on responsibility for her feelings
Your wife's feelings are her feelings. It is not your job to make her feel a certain way. Sometimes all your wife wants is to be listened to and really heard. She is not always looking for you to fix the situation or to change how she feels. Just being with her is enough.
Validate her feelings
When she has finished, restate her feelings back to her to show her that you were listening with your heart. You can wrap this up by saying, "Did I miss anything?" or "Is there anything else I should know?" Asking for clarification will show her that you are really interested in knowing how she feels.
Parker Janney is a web developer and writer based in Philadelphia. With a Master of Arts in international politics, she has been ghostwriting for several underground publications since the late 2000s, with works featured in "Virtuoso," the "Philadelphia Anthropology Journal" and "Clutter" magazine.
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