It’s happening again…your spouse is going on about something you did or didn’t do. It’s remarkably predictable and easy to ignore. Perhaps you even keep watching TV or prepare dinner. You’ve learned the best way to fend off the attack is to let it happen and wait until your spouse gets tired of griping and leaves you alone.
I have an idea for you. I suspect you’ll think it is crazy. Most of my clients do. They look at me as if to say, “Really? Why would I do that?” I ask them to say three words. It’s just three little words, and they might surprise you. Ready? Here they are:
Tell me more.
WHAT? That’s crazy! Why would I ask somebody who is nagging and griping at me to keep going? You want me to invite them to do it more? I can’t imagine doing that.
Yes, I am asking you to encourage the person who is nagging or griping at you to tell you more about what is bothering them. Why? Because people who do not feel heard or understood (your spouse in this case) keep trying to get heard or understood. “Tell me more” shows you are listening and trying to understand.
Nagging and griping thrives on being ignored, blown off, or not taken seriously. You feed it when you do these things and even if it eventually stops, it will just pile onto the next time. However, if you stop feeding it by listening to it and trying to understand it, it has a much greater chance of going away.
“Tell me more.” Say it and then listen. Then, if you really want to freak your spouse out, say “I can see why you feel that way. Is there anything I can do to help?” If your spouse is not speechless at this point, listen to the answer and see if you can help out.
It is my belief and my observation that people who use these three words regularly experience less nagging/griping episodes and are happier in their relationships because they are giving the other person one of the most valuable gifts one human can give another: understanding.
If you need help with communication in your marriage. Please contact me today to set up an appointment.
Licensed Marital & Family Therapist