This is a preview. The full article appears in Neil's book: Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship

Let’s say your beloved dog dies, and you are heartsick. As you tell different people of your loss, notice your emotional reactions and your gut feelings to the following responses: “I’m sorry for your loss.” “You’ll get over it in time.” “Your dog is in a better place now.” “Are you going to get another dog soon?” “It was her time.” The reason why none of those responses feel good is that they don’t honor your feelings of loss and sorrow. They’re not emotionally meaningful replies, and they don’t address your feelings at all.

Now notice how you would feel if you were to receive this response: “I am so sorry to hear this news. I would be devastated if my little Fluffy died. Tell me about your dog and your relationship with her. What will you miss about her? It doesn’t feel fair that we live so much longer than our dogs, does it? How are you coping?” That reply would feel meaningful, because it actually acknowledges your emotions. It would make us feel closer to the other person, because we feel someone is actually willing to hear our feelings and offer us empathy and compassion.

Authors Pat Love and Steven Stosny call this “stepping into the puddle” in their book: How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It. Stepping into the puddle involves joining someone with our heartfelt presence, caring concern and participation. It allows another person to feel that they are not alone in their personal struggles, emotional quandaries or hurt feelings.

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Tagged: intimacy skills   relationship skills  

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