It is possible to receive even the most difficult communication if.....we decide that the health of the relationship is more important then whether we were right or wrong.
When we feel hurt or attacked, or disrespected, or not appreciated, it is a very hard thing to do. And yet mastering this skill, not taking any communication personally can enhance a marriage far beyond roses or gifts or sex.
When we receive a communication, two actions need to follow:
1. We need to demonstrate mastery of receiving the communication. Otherwise, how can we know for certain that we are responding correctly?
To demonstrate mastery of a communication what we do is communicate the content of the communication, in our own words, with nothing added or subtracted. Figuring out what you think the person meant is an absolute NO NO.
The question we do ask is - "Did I hear what you had to say - is this correct? Once the person initiating the communication signals that you heard what they said, that they feel complete, we can move on. That means that their need and desire to have their communication received completely and accurately has been accomplished. This puts them in a much more willing mode to receive our response.
2. The second thing we need to do is to make sure that they have complete clarity about the purpose, the goal of our response. Where do we want this relationship to go? What are we looking to accomplish long range in this relationship and how does our response to this communication, in this particular situation, take us closer to that goal. We may want to review counting to 10 and depending - count to 50/100 or wait till next day. A communication that disregards our main objectives, to always move toward bettering the relationship, will set us back instead, and ultimately damage or destroy the relationship.
3. We love the person we married so they are likely to respond positively to this method of communicating. Eventually, and it may take some time, you will find them behaving in a much more positive way, and being a lot more careful with their communication. They will feel bad attacking a loved one that is demonstrating self-control, and truly listening to their complaints -whether they are right or wrong.
4. Listening pro-actively, and not defending oneself does not mean we agree with the person's point of view. It means we value them as human beings, and feeling that will allow them to want to work things out. Even admit that they were wrong, or apologize for the way they communicated.