Let’s talk about a universal topic that most couples encounter at some point during the course of their relationship—LISTENING VERSUS GIVING SOLUTIONS.
It’s been a long hard day and you are having a nice quiet dinner with your wife/girlfriend. Invariably, the topic of “How was your day?” will come up. This seemingly benign topic should not require a lot of thought, but…
There’s always a “but” with things like this, which always adds a little spice to the evening.
We’ve all been there. I’ve been there many times but can’t seem to learn from experience. I blame it on my engineering background, which causes me to look for solutions to all problems—real or perceived. I should probably join a local Solutions Anonymous (SA) group.
Okay, let’s return to the dinner table. The conversation has reached the point where your wife/girlfriend is telling you about her day—the good and the bad things that happened. As she continues, the urge to speak overwhelms you because you have solutions for the bad things that happened to the love of your life. You simply want to help her. Right?
Whoa! Hold your horses, Mr. Solution Man! You haven’t reached Super-Hero status yet. Think carefully before you go jumping any fences.
A wise man knows when to keep his mouth shut. He learned a long time ago that when his wife/girlfriend is speaking about her day, she just wants him to sit quietly and LISTEN. She’s not looking for any SOLUTIONS. She simply wants to share her day with the love of her life.
The conversation was lively, both of you finished dinner, and the night went well. Sweet dreams!
Unfortunately, there are guys, me included, who missed the wisdom-train and haven’t learned how to do the listening thing. Solutions begin popping into their heads and they have to offer SOLUTIONS. They start running off at the mouth with statements like “You should have…; If you had done…; A good way to handle that…; The best thing for you to do…, etc.” and things go downhill very quickly.
From this, your quiet dinner together turned into somewhat of a confrontation. Things didn’t go well at all! In fact, you learned she packs a mean one-two punch!
Guys, the best thing for you to do (I know, that’s one of those nasty solution lines) is to keep your solutions to yourself while she’s talking—afterward too. Never offer any solutions unless she repeatedly asks for them. Even then, be a wise man and just tell her how much you love her and care for her. You know—she’s the love of your life. If she keeps pressing you for solutions, let the engineer in you come out—then run to your man-cave!
Yep, I’ve been there, done that, and have the t-shirt too, but not the black eye—yet! Fortunately, my wife just shakes her head while quietly walking away. I’m very lucky it works that way because the chances of me not offering SOLUTIONS are slim, unless I join that SA group.
Let your wisdom prevail. Listening without giving solutions is much better than confrontations at the dinner table.
BTW – this topic is applicable to both parties—it’s a goose and gander thing!
Tom Tatum – Author – 2016
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