Love can be a win-win situation, if you just know how to listen.
Everyone values empathy, but in real life, being empathetic can seem like giving up territory. So each person waits for the other to go first, worrying, "If I empathize, you'll exploit me." Having a set of guidelines can help end the impasse.
1. Set aside a block of uninterrupted time to talk on a regular basis, once or twice a week.
2. Turn off the TV, and let the answering machine pick up calls. Lowering the lights can be helpful. Some people like to be physically close; others feel safer if they're not looking directly at each other.
3. Speak in a heartfelt and gentle manner. Think about how to raise your concerns and needs without hurting your partner in areas where he or she is vulnerable.
4. Instead of collecting evidence to build your case, listen deeply to what your partner is saying in an effort to find fresh solutions. If you start to feel uncontrollably angry or hurt, try shifting your attention to your breathing.
How to make a fight work for you
From the August 2004 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!