“Being listened to and heard is one of the greatest desires of the human heart.” Richard Carlson
If I had a dollar for every time I heard this one particular scenario in my coaching practice….well……I’d have a lot of dollars:
We went to marriage counseling together a few times, but then he didn’t want to go anymore so we quit.
When a struggling couple goes to a marriage counselor, they’re placing someone in the middle of their marriage, almost as a judge to define who’s right and who’s wrong. They go in essentially defending their feelings within the relationship and looking for validation.
One person usually gets that validation, feeling understood and heard by the marriage counselor.
The other person, however, can feel unheard and completely invalidated. That never feels good, so of course, they don’t want to continue walking into a situation where they’re told either directly or indirectly that they’re wrong, in some way. They don’t want to continue to defend themselves.
And when one person no longer wants to go to couples counseling, what typically happens is that both people in the relationship stop going.
And no progress gets made.
You start to feel defeated.
And the disconnect between you grows wider and wider over time.
This is one of the reasons why I think working with couples simultaneously isn’t effective. However, working with each individual separately, where each is heard and understood and where no one has to be wrong, is extremely effective.
Feeling unheard makes us shut down, where we’re not open to seeking new approaches or different perspectives.
When we feel heard and understood, that opens the door to thinking differently about the problems in our marriages, where we can access and integrate new tools, possibilities and approaches.