In a recent session with a married couple, the wife told me that her husband sometimes comes home from work feeling grouchy. He can’t seem to blow off enough steam, he just keeps venting. She tells him to relax and not let things bother him, but that does no good. After she’s had enough, she heads to the bedroom to lie down just to get away from his negativity.

On another day, it’s her turn to vent. How does he respond? Like most men, he  tries to fix the problem. That’s no good; she just wants him to listen.

Each of them does not feel supported when he or she is upset. They’re frustrated and say they don’t know what to do.

My input? Don’t assume that you have to respond with anything other than a patient ear. In fact don’t assume anything!

First, acknowledge his or her feelings respectfully and ask if there’s anything you can do. This will prevent you from being drawn into the other person’s negative mind-space, while at the same time, you’re showing kindness. If the other person says no, you can let it go and allow the him or her the time and space to work through it.