“Why does he try to fix my problems?”
question: My husband is a professional motivational speaker. We met in one of his courses. What I fell in love with is now what I think is going to break up our marriage. I can never tell him anything about myself without him giving me lists of solutions. My sister died and I am devastated, but he’ll go on about her being out of her misery, that I should appreciate having had her in my life and what a positive influence she was. answer: Your husband’s problem isn’t unique to motivational speakers. It’s a failure to listen. Many people think if they have heard what the speaker has said, they can prove they were listening, and that they are caring, helpful and empathetic people, by giving advice on what should be done about the problem.
Because these people are so active in helping to solve the problem, they are baffled when this doesn’t work. But many problems can’t be solved.
When you tell your husband you are sad because your sister died, that becomes a problem for him. He doesn’t want you to be sad. It upsets him. So he tries to find a solution to your sadness so it will go away. You’ll no longer feel sad and he’ll feel better.
When you feel an emotion and want to communicate it to him, all you really want to do is share how you feel. You want someone you love to intimately know what’s going on with you. All he has to do is absorb it. Understanding it has nothing to do with fixing it or telling you how he feels about it.
It requires him to be still, an empty vessel poised to take in what you have to say. Some men see this as impotence. They think if there is a problem, there must be a solution.
He needs to become someone you can share your experience with, who understands there is no solution, in a way that you feel connected to him. Only this will make your loneliness go away. Counselling may help achieve this. + Got a question for Toby Green? Send your query to bodyandsoul.com.au/ askourexperts