Here’s a list of tasks that many of the men who have benefited from learning and applying in their relationships:
- Be a great listener.
Truly listen with your full attention and presence. This includes facing your partner, maintaining good eye contact during conversations, and using non-verbal behaviour (e.g., nods, smiles, etc. as appropriate) to show that you are paying attention and listening. Take your turn to speak at a natural break in the conversation. Convey your understanding of what you’ve heard your partner say before offering your own perspective, opinions, or solutions. Listening fully and well is the foundation of all relationship advice for men (and for women). Listening allows for understanding, problem-solving, and emotional closeness and reduces conflict.
- Have discussions about the feelings associated with the situations and facts.
Stay in those discussions and connect with your partner so that your conversations are about the feelings that are associated with the facts and situations your partner is describing. Reflect the feelings that your partner is communicating to you. Those feelings are often what female partners most want you to hear and to acknowledge. Let your partner know you’ve heard how she is feeling. One of the most important things the men I have worked with forget is that receiving negative feedback from your partner (e.g., your partner telling you that she feels hurt or not taken seriously or not understood) is not a personal slight against you. When your partner gives you this kind of feedback, it is often a request for listening or understanding. When you listen fully and convey understanding, you create an opportunity to enhance your connection with your partner and to solve problems with less conflict.
- Be emotionally accessible, strong and stable.
This means being able to express your own deeper feelings, including being vulnerable without being fearful. It sometimes strikes me that men who are very capable in other ways—intellectually, professionally, physically—get confused about how to bring their many strengths and skills to bear on building stronger relationships and handling the rough spots that all couples face from time to time. Sometimes, being able to express your own deeper feelings means learning how to identify more clearly exactly what you think and feel and placing more importance on your own fears and hurts. This is do-able and can be learned.
- Let your partner in.
Tell your partner what you have been thinking and feeling. If you have thought further about something the two have discussed, let her know. If you have been trying to do something differently as a result of a previous conversation with her, let her know. This is an important piece of relationship advice for men, who often take what their partners say very seriously but forget how important it is to let their partners know that they have taken it seriously and are thinking about it or doing something about it. Also, if there is something about your partner or your relationship or a recent conversation that you’ve smiled about since or that you appreciate, or if there’s a tender or great moment you’ve been reminded of, share these things with her.
Life has twists and turns, relationships change, and both have ups and downs. Build on what you do and have done well and seek guidance and help when needed so that you don’t become paralyzed and unnecessarily stuck.
Real men are emotionally and mentally stable. Visit Discover You Coaching to learn more.