It’s Valentine’s again, and if you’re spending it with the special woman in your life, you probably wonder what you can do to make her feel loved. Besides boxes of chocolates and bouquets of flowers, here is a suggestion that every woman will love: become a better listener.
This is easier said then done, and in my counseling practice I typically spend a lot of time teaching couples this skill. But even a few good habits can make a big difference. So as you sit down for that romantic Valentine’s dinner, start practicing these skills:
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1. Show her that you care
Ask her how her meeting went. Ask her things like: "What was the most important part?" "Did you expect that?" "How do you feel about that?" "What does that mean to you?
2. Show her that you get it
Tell her that you can see how she feels that way. Tell her you would be stressed out, too. Acknowledge it when she sounds relieved or worried. When you don’t understand her position, ask her to tell you more and pick her brain until you see her point.
3. Show her that you’re on her side
Take her side as a true friend would, and don’t be "helpful" by providing "the other person’s perspective." Say, "That guy is such a jerk!" Tell her you are proud of her. Say, "You must be furious!"
4. Hold off on the advice
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Even if you "know the answer", resist solving her problem. Giving advice is rarely appreciated, and certainly not before you have understood the issue from her angle. People often just want to vent and see that you get it. Instead, show solidarity and encouragement: "We will figure this out together. You’re not alone in this!"
Whether you’re on a first date, or you’ve been married for a decade, what people want first and foremost in a relationship is to feel understood, validated, and supported. This can be tricky, especially when you have strong opinions on many items, or tend to have suggestions handy. So vow to make this Valentine’s all about her, and in a more meaningful way than money can buy.