One of the benefits of being a couples therapist is that I’m continually challenged by my clients to look at my own deficiencies.
By nature, I have a personality & temperament that tends to be more quiet & reserved. This part of my personality works well for some, but not so well for others as I can be perceived as being distant, aloof, or disengaged. I was recently confronted by a client for being too quiet and not asking enough questions during our time together. He was right -my quiet attentiveness was off-putting, and causing him to feel alone with me. Although I was emotionally present – that was not enough. I was not engaging with Curiosity and Awe.
Moving past the shame & embarrassment of being clueless with my client, I realized that many couples find themselves stuck in a similar pattern. I’m calling this developing Curiosity and Awe in your marriage.
What does Curiosity and Awe look like?
Naturally, many partners want to know, “What do I do to display Curiosity and Awe with my partner?” Here is a quick example of what it could look like:
Partner: “I had a horrible day with the kids today”
Curiosity and Awe Response: “Really?!?! I’m so sorry to hear that. Can you tell me about it?” “What was it like for you?”
Partner: “I’m want to go play golf this Saturday”
Curiosity and Awe Response: “You really love playing golf. I’m thrilled you have a hobby you enjoy so much. What is it about golf that you love so much?”
Curiosity and Awe responsiveness invites our partners to tell us about them. We are showing that we genuinely would like to know them – more deeply. When we don’t engage our partners with Curiosity and Awe, they can feel unimportant, uncared for, and alone – like my client felt with me.
Why is this important?
Listening is much more then being a passive participant. Developing Curiosity and Awe is important because it shows our partner that we are genuinely trying our best to understand their experience. It can be incredibly invalidating to share something with someone and have them sit quietly without participating. When we don’t develop Curiosity and Awe with our partners they feel uncared for.
Why this is hard?
First, to have Curiosity and Awe with our partners, it requires us to be very present and engaged – and that can be difficulty depending on what’s vying for our attention. Secondly, depending on our own histories and experiences, maybe no one ever asked us questions with Curiosity and Awe; so we simply don’t know how. And third, our temperament and personality may play a role in our ability to develop Curiosity and Awe with our partners.
It sounds simple right? Engaging our partners with Curiosity and Awe is not simple and can be very difficult because it requires us to have the mental capacity (uncluttered minds) and emotional freedom to step outside ourselves and focus totally, completely, and solely on someone else.
How would your partner rate your ability to have Curiosity and Awe with them?
**I am very proud to announce my new Group Therapy called “Better Dad’s & Better Husbands Group”. If you, or a Dad you know would like to meet with other like-minded Dad’s and Husbands in an extremely life-changing and powerful way, please shoot me an email!
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