Based on your lovely note from your “cottage in the woods,” I am going to reply in four separate responses. This is my first reply in which I am recommending a single strategy to help each of you strengthen your basic listening skills:
1. Mama Bear needs to talk about her feelings, her fears, and her hopes for her children and grandchildren. She is deeply troubled by her relationship, or lack of it, with one of her grown-up cubs.
2. There’s one person in this world Mama trusts more than anyone else and that is you, Papa Bear. So guess who is going to listen to Mama Bear? Yup. You. And I mean listen. No judging, no commenting, until she asks you what you think. So pull up those two chairs around the breakfast table, dish up the porridge, pour the coffee, and ask Mama “How are you feeling today about ...” Let her talk.
3. Mama, at some point, will ask you, “Papa, what do you think about that?” Then the door opens and the delicate process begins of listening to and learning from each other. Mama speaks, asks for feedback, and becomes the listener. Papa replies, asks for feedback and becomes the listener. Like a see-saw, the process continues while both partners gain strength, self-confidence, and insight into what is troubling one or the other, or both. My guess is that you are both worried about the relationship with grown-up cub.
4. As you each increase your abilities to listen to and learn from and about each other, there is one final bolt that holds the whole process together: LOVE. Remember to tell each other, often, how much you love each other. You may disagree on some points that come out in the process of listening and learning, but regardless, you always confirm that your love is unwavering, without question.
The next time I write to you, I will discuss how to spark and strengthen the relationship with grown-up cub. How well you do that, will depend on how hard you work on the strategy I’ve just described, because you will need those skills big-time.
Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key:
Sometimes the mouth needs to close in order to hear well.