Part of what makes therapy so remarkable is that we are heard in a non-judgemental, curious way. There is no criticism, no loaded questions, none of the baggage that is present in an intimate relationship.
The power of the deep listening that happens in therapy is validation. Often our partners find it difficult to be with us in our pain because of their wounds. They might be afraid to really go into the hurt with us because they may fear that they will never come out. Or they may feel like if they feel our pain, they will never be able to disagree with us on this topic again.
Another common misconception is that if you stand in their shoes, you will agree with them on some level, and then your position will be weakened. What happens is the opposite!
Imagine trying to make your partner understand how sad you feel about her long work hours and the disconnect you feel in your relationship. You have had the discussion a thousand times. She is working long hours to get the promotion she wants; she is defensive and rolls her eyes.
BUT THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT. She stops. She imagines how it might feel for you, wanting to have more time with her. She notices how tired she has been and acknowledges that she hasn’t had much energy for the relationship recently. Suddenly, you feel HEARD. You feel validated. She may not change the hours she is working, but you feel heard and understood.
There is a coming together, rather than a pushing apart.
*Gottman Method Couples Therapy – John & Julie Gottman