November 2016



Honor Your Partner's Feelings as if They Are Your Own

By: Dr. Jackie Black

Feelings are the barometer of your outside existential life. For human beings in personal relationships, your feelings let you know how things are going for you inside yourself. Feelings exist because they do, in and of themselves; and they are indicators of how to tend to your relationship.

I want to focus on an essential relationship behavior that you and your partner will want to practice, become good at, and use frequently with each other:

...Honor your partnerís feelings as if they are your own!

You cannot choose to change, modify, not feel, or otherwise positively or negatively affect your feelings. The only choice you have is directly related to your behavior.

Feelings are as normal as hunger and fatigue. When you dismiss, diminish, ridicule, criticize, mock, belittle, disparage or demean anyone's feelings, you are acting in the most disrespectful and unloving way.

Next time your partner (or anyone in your life, for that matter) expresses a feeling, consider hearing the feeling as a sacred offering. Be curious and compassionate. Remember: It is not your job to fix anything. She or he is not broken. It isn't necessary to offer insights, suggestions, give answers or otherwise provide brilliant advice or express profound guidance. Don't get distracted by the content of the event. Stay with the feeling(s). Your partner is experiencing and expressing normal, natural human emotion.

Here are 3 Simple, Loving Behaviors:

  1. Listen with your heart.
  2. Tell your partner that he or she matters to you and that his or her feelings are important to you.
  3. Ask if there is anything you can do or say right now that would be helpful.

Think about a beautiful garden; the flowers are in full bloom and growing profusely! Someone routinely tends this garden. The gardener removes the weeds as soon as they poke their heads out of the ground; waters and feeds the plants, and cultivates the soil... routinely. Imagine what the condition of the garden might be if the gardener only went out to the garden once a week to pick the flowers to be enjoyed over the weekend.

Committed, joyful, lasting love relationships require the same attention and intention on an on-going basis; not just once a week. Every day believe that your presence and your caring go a long way to soothe your partner's hurt and upset heart. Very often people know what they need or what might be helpful. When they donít, the 3 Simple, Loving Behaviors are enough!!! Throughout the week take every opportunity to practice the 3 Simple, Loving Behaviors. Be ever watchful of the shifts and changes in your partner's feelings and moods.

Understand that you will be tending the rich soil in which love, intimacy and trust grow more and more deeply every day. So until next time, Happy Gardening!

Remember, only YOU can make it happen!

Copyright © 2016 by Dr. Jackie Black and the Relationship Coaching Institute. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Dr. Jackie Black, is a Marriage Educator, Author and Coach; and the co-developer of RCI's Couples Coach Training Program. She is the author of the Cracking the Code series of relationship-focused books, a popular Internet syndicated columnist, a highly regarded relationship blogger and podcaster, and a frequent guest expert on traditional and Internet radio throughout the world. Connect with Dr. Jackie at

Ask Our Coaches

My Partner and I need help with communication skills!

Dear Coaches,

When my partner and I have a conversation and I have a different opinion from him he automatically thinks I'm trying to cause an argument. I don't always say or think his opinion is wrong or right, but his answer is that he's right because he said so and he tells me I must be stupid if I think my idea is smart. I thought that communication and finding a solution should be done together and not just be one point of view and the other person just doing what they're told. How can we find a solution together without telling each other that either one of us is right or wrong?

Patricia Lavigne

Patricia responds ...

One of the most important things to have in a relationship is mutual respect. When having a conversation it starts with a sender and a receiver. It's not about who is right or wrong it's about having a workable solution.

Using I message and expressing your feelings can change your approach when you start a conversation. Issues are unmet needs, everything you discuss is valid. Whoever has the unmet need owns the issue. Ensure to only discuss one issue at a time and take turns discussing your issue. Always have respect for each other and assume it's a workable solutions and can be resolved. Listening is just as important when discussing an issue. Also, getting facts can also offer a solution without an argument. If this method doesn't work you can check out RCI's Communication Map. It offers a detailed method on discussing issues with your partner. Good luck and I hope it all works out for both of you.

Patricia Lavigne |

Lynn Goodacre

Lynn responds ...

Effective communication can be challenging for couples especially since most of us didnít have this modeled in childhood and we certainly don't see effective communication very often in the media! It seems like a pattern has emerged for you and your partner and it's one that isn't working well for you.

When you're in the heat of the moment in the middle of an argument it's next to impossible to course-correct. It can be helpful to sit down sometime when you are both calm and discuss how you want your communication to be. If we are stuck in thinking we are "right" and the other person is "wrong" we lose the opportunity to see things from a different point of view. If we are able to shift into listening with openness and curiosity we can find that perhaps there is a way of seeing things that we'd never thought of before!

Do you think you and your partner could sit down and have a discussion about some ground rules for communicating? Once a pattern has been established, it can be difficult to break it and this is where having a relationship coach on board can be so valuable. Your coach is an impartial third party who can support you in learning and practicing effective communication skills. How do you think your relationship might be different if you and your partner could hear each other with respect?

Lynn Goodacre |

The opinions stated are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the staff, members, or leadership of Relationship Coaching Institute.

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your question here and it will be forwarded to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.


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