But I want to fix it ...

"Don't try to fix it. I just need you to listen." Every man has heard these words. And they are the law of the land. No matter what. A short film by Jason Headley at www.jasonheadley.com. Shared with permission.

It can be a hard concept to get your head around - you want to fix your partner's pain, but somehow it never seems to work. I hear clients say, "I just want to fix it," and of course that makes so much sense. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't just men who want to fix their partner's pain, we all want our partners to feel better. But think for a minute, do you actually want to soothe your partner's pain, or do you just want them stop feeling the pain? Because they are two totally different things.

Wanting our partner to stop feeling bad makes sense - it feels SO AWFUL when our partners are upset, especially at us. So we try to fix the source of their pain, or we minimize their pain with the hope they agree it's "not that bad".

Trying to fix the source

Partner 1: (after weeks of complaining about how awful his job is) I just can't do it another day, it's so stressful, it's killing me.

Partner 2: Just quit! We'll be fine for a while, just quit! Or go talk to your boss about it!

Minimizing their pain

Partner 1: (after weeks of complaining about how awful his job is) I just can't do it another day, it's so stressful, it's killing me.

Partner 2: It's not so bad, it'll be ok. Just hang in there.

Partner 2 is trying to fix their partner's pain by providing a solution or by trying to convince them it's not as painful as they think it is. While this is understandable, it's going to leave Partner 1 feeling kind of lost and alone.

Actually fixing it

Partner 1: (after weeks of complaining about how awful his job is) I just can't do it another day, it's so stressful, it's killing me.

Partner 2: I am so sorry, that sounds really tough. You have been working so hard, and it sucks that it's not getting better. What can I do to help?

 

When clients say to me, "I want to fix it," I say, "Great! You totally can. You just need to use a different tool than you have been." Now this gets much harder if the partner's pain is a result of us, if we did something that causes them distress or mistrust. But a good first way to try this is when it's something outside the relationship like with work, etc. Give it a try, see what happens.