Sue was emotional these days. Her father’s memory was beginning to fail him and she was feeling distressed. When she began to share her upset feelings with her husband Bill, he thought he was being helpful by saying, “Don’t worry.”
Sue felt demeaned and dismissed by this statement. She felt Bill was talking down to her, in addition to shutting down the conversation. Sue just needed to vent her feelings and Sue’s previous feedback that his response was unhelpful went unheeded.
Another statement that Bill used when Sue talked about her father was, “We’ve already talked about that.” This was another conversation stopper. Sue was close with her father and his deteriorating health was overwhelming at times; she needed to express it.
Bill loved Sue but wasn’t aware his response style was unsupportive. With some professional coaching, Bill was finally able to get it. He learned to listen, support and validate.