A frequent challenge among many couples arises when one is feeling very low, in a depressed or negative state that inevitably affects the other partner. The “feeling low” partner may feel a great need to share his/her intense emotions or to have them recognized and validated. The other partner may be worn down by the negativity; unable to identify (and commiserate) with the other’s intense emotions; or possibly resentful of what feels like unfair blame and criticism.
Many years ago I attended a powerful and memorable Reflective Listening workshop. The participants were asked to listen carefully as volunteers related a story about something in their lives the found disturbing or confusing. During the first stage of the exercise, the participants were instructed to warm-up their “listening muscles” by listening without any response or reaction whatsoever.