Saturday, July 30, 2016

I'm Sorry (I feel for you)

A man once told me that his wife didn't want him to solve her problems, but that she simply wanted to hear him say I'm sorry that happened to you.

I use this expression all the time.  Anytime Sara gets hurt by someone or hurt by circumstances, I say I'm sorry that happened to you.  I might add, I'm sorry that happened to you.  You didn't deserve that.  Or, I'm sorry that happened to you.  She's not being considerate.  

The point is that our wives simply want to know that we care about them and that we're sorry that something bad happened to them.  We have to be prepared to leave it finished with those words.  Our wives survived on their own without us and they can figure out life on their own, if that is their prerogative.  The main thing they need is our emotional support.

On the other hand, our wives might want our thoughts on how to troubleshoot the matter, but we must wait for their permission.  They'll let us know with words like, What do you think? Or, Do you have any thoughts?

Even in these situations, I rarely try to solve the problem.  I often give two or three possible solutions and then allow her the autonomy to follow which one she likes best.  Sometimes, she doesn't follow any of them, but maybe it jogs her thinking and she comes up with her own course of action.

The reality is that we have to endorse our wives' autonomies, give feedback only if given permission, and allow them to make mistakes in our eyes.  To be honest, how do we even know if our course of action is best anyways?

If you and your wife have been stuck in a cycle of unwanted problem solving, then I recommend not offering advice for a long time, until you receive her permission.  It could take weeks, months, or even years.  Simply say, I'm sorry that happened to you.  That was a horrible thing to happen.

Once you've done this, then you've met your wife's need as a woman in a very strong way.