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Emotional ability

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Do you sometimtes honestly express to others how you feel? How do they react? Are they understanding or do they say: „Oh, it’s not that bad’, „Oh, I experienced much harder things“, „Oh, don’t be like this“, „Oh, why do you cry“?

Lean into your own discomfort and take a moment to acknowledge, not stifle or change other people’s feelings. You don’t have to agree with the way people are feeling, but you do have to recognize those feelings as legitimate and respect them. If you’re known for being terrible with relationships, then this may be a great place to start getting better.“

(Quote: Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Strategy #59)

I exprienced both type of people – but fortunately more the understanding ones, those who understand or really try to understand how a person is feeling. I think this has to do with being able to empathize, with emotional intelligence, how you grew up – what kind of role models you had – were they understanding or not? Did they share their feelings or just „swallowed“ everything?

I think some people can’t really „feel“ (empathize) with you, because they don’t want to be challenged in their „own world“. They don’t want to deal with feelings, just with facts. I think that people who don’t reflect on how they feel, they store up all kinds of feelings inside and one day it will all come up to the surface, e.g. in form of anger, or nasty words, blame.

If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.“ (Daniel Goleman)

??? I would love to hear from you what you think about this post? What experiences do you have with this???

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To understand each other (Part 5)

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Paul Tournier writes in his book that in order to achieve understanding we need to accept our natural differences.

He says that „instinctively, a very rational man is going to marry a very sentimental woman. Their complementing one another will, at the beginning, elicit an enthusiastic reaction in him. But later on he will want to make her listen to the objective arguments of reason; he will become annoyed at not being successful in this. He will try to show her that she is not logical in her sentimental explosions.“

??? When you look at couples around you – do you see this???

Now he explains what the woman will do. He says that she will „reproach her husband for his ice-cold rational manner which stifles all life.“

Nevertheless: even if people are so different by nature, they are „made to complement each other, that through each other they may discover so much of what they’ve not known or sensed before. This is one purpose of marriage.“ (Page 37)

Tournier says that man and woman are „basically different“ and this is the reason, why they have „such great difficulty in understanding one another and such great need of one another for their growth.“ He mentiones that a man has a „theoretical mind while a woman has a more person-centered mind“ and that a woman „thinks of people, and in terms of people.“ (Page 38) When men gather together they „expound magnificent theories on the way the world should be governed and how universal peace (…) can be achieved. These theories are quite abstract, detached, and unrelated to the immediate situation.“(P.38)

So a man can learn from a woman and he can „aquire a feeling for persons. Civilisation built by men alone would remain abstract, cold, technical, and dehumanized. A woman thinks in detail, also. Details interest her more than general ideas. She has a need to tell all the day’s happenings, once she is with her husband.“ (P.39).

The man „needs to learn from his wife the importance of both concrete and personal details, without which general idas are no more than empty theories.“ (P.40)

Tournier points out the speech itself „has a different meaning for men than it has for women. Through speech men express ideas and communicate information. Women speack in order to express feelings, emotions. This explains why a wife will relate then times an experience she has lived. It is not to inform her husband.“ (P.40)

She „needs to tell it again in order to discharge emotional tension which the experience has built up in her heart. Many men never ebven get to express their feelings, to say the „I love you“ that the wife would like to hear a hundred times. She asks, „Do you love me?“ He replies, „You know that I do.“ It is not that she does not know. Rather, she would like to hear it expressed ever once more. This is the greater since her husband never says it to her. He expresses his feelings in other ways: a caress, a look, or even a rough kind of grunt.“ (P.40).

Tournier tells a story of a woman „who was suffering from just such a lack of ever hearing a tender word from the lips of her husband. One day she came to see me quite upset. Her husband, without even having warned her, had had the workmen come to refinish her living-room floor. The whole house was upset and dirty. This woman was irritated. I said to her, „Each person speaks in his own way! This is how your husband tells you that he loves you. Throw your arms around him if you can understand his language. Tell him how he must love you in order to go to such expenses to give you a more beautiful living room.“

This expample reminds me actually of what my husband did for me. He painted the kitchen, table, shelves…. : everything white (in lots and lots and lots of hours), because I love white furniture! He also planted once tulips for me, because I LOVE tulips. He planted 100 (!!!) tulips for me! Wow – he really must love me =) This is really amazing! THANKS!

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Further Paul Tournier writes in his book, that in order to „understand each other, man and wife must take an interest in what interests the other, and come to understand why it interestes the other. A man will talk of his interest only when he senses genuine interest in another, and it is only when he talks of it that the other can understand better the character of that interest. In this way the horizon broadens for both partners, instead of steadily narrowing. Real understanding always brings with it a going beyond one’s self. Then can teh home serve as a foundation to one’s calling, and the calling can enrich in its turn the spiritual life of the home. The conflict from wich many couples suffer can be solved. Yet, the profound differences which separate men and women are found in the very thing which brings them together: love itself.“ (P.42&43)

Book: „To understand each other. Classic wisdom on marriage“, Paul Tournier

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To understand each other (Part 4)

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How do we achieve understanding? Paul Tournier writes in his book*: „One who feels understood feels loved, and one who feels loved feels sure of being understood.

(…) Deep sharing is overwhelming, and very rare. A thousand fears keep us in check. First of all there is the fear of breaking down, of crying. There is especially the fear that the other will not sense the tremendous importance with which this memory or feeling is charged. How painful it is when such a difficult sharing falls flat, upon ears either preoccupied or mocking, ears in any case that do not sense the significance of what we’re saying.“ (P.28+29).

So what can happen next? Tournier points out that a partner who has spoken in a very personal way „without being understood falls back into terrible emotional solitude. He may become sick because of it. In such circumstances some will go to see their pastor or priest, others their doctor. They are simply seeking someone who can understand. In certain cases of therapy, the help of a doctor or of a man of God may be necessary. Often, however, a wife can bring the same help to her husband, or he to her, if the same painstaking care is exercised in listening as would be done by a pastor, priest, psychologist, or doctor. How beautiful, how grand and liberating this experience is when couples learn so to help each other. It is impossible to overemphasize the immense need men have to be really listened to, to be taken seriously, to be understood.“ (P.29)

I think we can all learn to listen better! Some are better than others already. But each one of us can improve!

He says that a man, if he is alone „marks his time and becomes very set in his ways. In the demanding confrontation which marriage constitutes, he must ever go beyond himself, develop, grow up into maturity. When marriage is reduced to mere symbiosis of two persons essentially hidden from one another, peaceful though such life may sometimes be, it has completely missed its goal. Then it is not solely the marriage which has failed, but both husband and wife. They have failed in their calling as a man and a woman. To fail to understand one’s spouse is to fail to understand oneself. It is also a failure to grow and to fulfull one’s possibilities.“ (P.31)

What Tournier points out as very important is to face problems and not to avoid them.

What? Problems? Some couples might say: We never argue. But like Tournier says, there are „problems in every marriage“ and those „who make a success of their marriage are those who tackle their problems together and who overcome them. Those who lack the courage to do this are the ones whose marriage is a failure.“

It is the „differences in our characters, tastes, habits, prejudices, and convictions which oblige us to a greater effort to understand each other. These in turn lead to further growth in both of us.“ (P.33+34)

It takes courage he says to „face up to all the problems created by a complete adaptation of two personalities. People are very different one from another.“

And „to come to understand that one’s partner is very different – this already presupposes a great deal of personal growth.“ (P.35)

??? Can you relate to what the author is saying? Do you share his opinion? What do you experience in your marriage? Do you have any good tips for understanding the other better???

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*Book: „To understand each other. Classic wisdom on marriage“, Paul Tournier

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To understand each other (Part 3)

life coaching, colouryourdream, life, purpose, marriage

Paul Tournier points out that many couples who are married for a few years no longer „really talk to each other.“ And he means REAL talk, not only secondary matters, but „matters that are really essential, intimate, personal. After a few years the „thirst for discovery and for understanding has been dried. The problem is when the wife stops to express herself. And „the less she expresses herself, the less she will be understood; the less she feels understood, the more she will withdraw into herself.“

He says, if you think that you „know your wife or your husband, it is because you have given up the real attempt to discover him.“

What is important is: 1. The will to understand and 2. expressing oneself.

We express ourselves of course not only in marriage, but „it is toward his wife that his need to express himself is the greatest.“ It is easy to avoid talking and find „duties in order to escape face-to-face relationships. The fact is that many married people flee from it; they are afraid of opening up in depth. They do not take the time which is necessary for it. Even when on vacation they run about seeking every kind of distraction, invite home very charming friends, friends who enable them to avoid calm and peaceful talk together. A great deal of time must be taken in order to build a true marriage (…). A deep encounter rarely takes place in a few moments. It must be prepared for by hours careful drawing together.“

Tournier points out that a „complete unveiling of one’s inner thoughts, an absolute necessity for real and deep understanding, demands a great deal of courage.“

Some people have fear of real conversation. Tournier thinks that there might be two reasons: the fear of being judged, the fear of criticism and second the fear of receiving advice.

He says that we fear critical judgement most from the people we love most and that „few people really accept the fact that their marital partner behaves in a profoundly different way from themselves.“

The „I cannot understand“ really means „I cannot understand that my husband is different from me, that he thinks, feels, and acts in a quite different manner than I.““

And then „the husband feels judged, condemned, criticized. All of us fear this, for no one is satisfied with himself. We are especially sensitive to blame for shortcomings which we ourselves find stupid, and which we have never been able to correct in spite of our sincerest efforts. „

How do we really understand? In order to understand, „we need to listen, not to reply. We need to listen long and attentively. In order to help anybody to open his heart, we have to give him time, asking only a few questions, as carefully as possible, in order to help him better explain his experience. Above all we must not give the impression that we know better than he does what he must do. Otherwise we force him to withdraw. Too much criticism will also achieve the same result, so fragile are his inner sensitivities.“

Some husbands say, that they don’t want to burden their wife with worry and they keep their problems to themselves. These men maybe sincere in thinking this, „but they are deluding themselves. There are always deeper reasons for such inner blockage of confidences. In any case it is a sign that the marital sharing has failed. A woman can bear any anxiety when she feels supported by her husband (…).“

Paul Tournier goes on and writes that the worst worry for a woman is „perhaps that of feeling that her husband is weighed down with problems which he does not share with her.“

There are many people who are misunderstood, but it’s also because they are partly responsible for it. But, if „they are not understood, it is because they have not opened up.“

Tournier writes, that many people who come to his office say to him that with him they can open up, because he understands them. But he says, that the „truth is rather the reverse; I understand them because they open up. Sometimes I understand them much better than their partners, because they tell me everything they hold back from them.“

He says, when „we have a client too long in therapy, the time comes when our opinion of him dries up, unknown to us, his readiness to share confidences. He will no longer tell us anything but what he believes we can understand. Once again the fear of being misunderstood has made its appearance in him.“

 

??? A question for couples which are married for a long time: what is your experience? Can you relate to what is written in the post???

 

Book: „To understand each other. Classic wisdom on marriage“, Paul Tournier

 

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To understand each other (Part 2)

life coaching, colouryourdream, life, purpose, marriage

Here comes the continuation of my summary of the book „To understand each other. Classic wisdom on marriage“, Paul Tournier.

I think the author has some interesting and valid points – I think: I am not even married one year, so I am looking forward to read your comments =)

I try to excerpt the most important viewpoints here.

The first condition for mutual understanding is the „desire“ for understanding.

Tournier describes a couple where the wife was „suffering because the husband did not pay attention to her.“ He says that this couple was „one of many“, where „gradually man and wife have grown apart without there ever having taken place any serious conflict.“ Tournier mentions that there are many couples which „live side by side, without hurting one another, but poles apart because of no real understanding of one another.“ He says that there is „an important difference between degrees of understanding. Many people live for years together without deep understanding, without even seeking it. This we see in outstanding, cultured, intelligent families, people of the very highest order, learned men, even professors of psychology.“

Tournier mentions that the so-called “emotional incompatibility is a myth.” “There are misunderstandings and mistakes, however, which can be corrected where there is the willingness to do so.

He points out that the most frequent fault seems to him the “lack of complete frankness.” He sees many couples and he discovers behind their difficulties this “lack of mutual openness, a loyal and total openness to one another without which there can be no real understanding. A couple who are courageous enough always to say everything will without doubt go through many upsets, but they will be able to build an ever more successful marriage.”

He says that many couples “no longer realize, that they are hiding a part of their real feelings from each other, a part of their ideas, convictions, and personal reactions.“

And then he points out that many couples „put aside certain subjects“ in order to have peace, but these subjects are most important for their „coming to a true mutual understanding.“ So „they are starting to become strangers to one another…“

In the bibel we read, that when a woman and a man marries „they shall no longer be two, but one. And what does it mean to be one? Obviously „not to have secrets from each other. As soon as a couple begin to hide matters from one another they compromise the basic openess of marital life. They start off on the road to failure. This is true even if it is done out of the best intentions, or even if it is a very good thing that is hidden.“

 

???I think Tourniers points are very interesting and I would be interested to hear from experienced couples (I am only married for a few months now, so I am not that experienced): Do you think Tournier has a valid point? What is your experience with understanding the partner???

 

Book: „To understand each other. Classic wisdom on marriage“, Paul Tournier

 

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