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10 Things To Understand When You Love Someone From A Broken Family

10 Things To Understand When You Love Someone From A Broken Family

No one person that comes from a broken family is the same as another. For some, a broken family was caused by a divorce, abuse, neglect, or the death of a parent at a young age. For others, a broken family is the only thing they know.

For many, it came at a young age, and a big cost to who they would become. There is no definition that explains what it feels like, or what it means to come from a broken home.

It’s not simple to explain, it’s not what most would see as normal, and it’s something that can bring both happiness and pain. Those who come from a broken home are doing their best to figure life out, just like everyone else.

Don’t get me wrong here, loving someone who comes from a broken family can be work, but they will love you and cherish you with all of their heart. You are their safe place, and they will always have your back for that.

To be able to give back the love and loyalty you are getting, here are a few facts of people from broken homes that will help you to better understand how to love someone who comes from a broken family.

1. They don’t trust easily

Trust is something that is earned for them, and it is taken very seriously. This will be relevant throughout your entire relationship.

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At some point in life, someone they trusted ended up disappointing them big time. For this reason it’s hard for them to just give up their trust to you.

This might be hard to crack at first, but when they let you in, they likely won’t hold anything back.

2. At the beginning of the relationship, they won’t think they deserve you

You are simply too good for them. They don’t deserve the love, or even the attention that you are showing them. This can last for a very long time, but it is likely that you won’t even know they feel this way.

Those who come from a broken family are used to holding in their feelings and covering up with a smile. When they seem down to you, just give them a compliment and hold them close.

3. While in the early stages of dating, they will focus on you, and avoid long conversations about themselves

At some point at the beginning of dating, you will feel like they know everything about you, but you don’t exactly know everything about them. This is normal. When they get into a relationship it’s easier for both sides to talk about positive things, and their home life is not positive, so they avoid it.

You might be told names of family members, or a funny story here or there, but you will have no idea that their parent is or was an addict, or whatever their home situation might be. Don’t push on this subject.

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When they trust you, they will tell you what growing up was like for them.

4. They will be the independent one in the relationship

If at times it seems like they don’t act like they need you, it’s because they don’t, technically. They had to grow up at a young age, and some of them even had to take care of themselves and their siblings on their own.

They can get by without you, but they don’t want to. Don’t hold this against them, as it will benefit them when they have a family of their own. And if you’re lucky, that family will be with you.

5. Meeting your family will be hard for them

A normal family is something only dreams are made of for them. Talking about your family is uneasy for them, and meeting them is terrifying.

They don’t know what to expect, and your stories of childhood and good relationships are a far cry from their reality. Be supportive, and introduce them to the family slowly. Once they see how your family interacts, they will open up to you about theirs, giving you a better understanding of who they are.

6. Arguments will either be filled with emotion, or be completely shut off

Depending on the topic, and how comfortable they are with you, an argument will go one of two ways. Earlier in the relationship it is likely that when an argument arises they will tend to listen more than they talk.

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They don’t necessarily want to disagree with you, and they want two things to happen. They want you to be happy at the end of the argument, and they want the argument over NOW.

In the heat of an argument at this point, they will feel extremely anxious, and wonder if this might lead to you leaving them – just like everyone else has left them. The second way this can go is with extreme emotion.

By this point in the relationship it is likely they are comfortable with you. They no longer worry about you leaving them just because of this fight, and they will let you know how they feel. Regardless of the situation you find yourself at, don’t leave things unsettled. At the end of the day, they need to know that everything is okay.

7. Once they fall in love with you, they are done hiding from you

However long it might take for this to happen, when it does, you will know. Letting someone in enough to fall in love is a big thing for them. At this point in the relationship they will have started to open up to you about their past, and their family.

You will know exactly how they feel about their home life. It might feel to you like this came out of nowhere, but it most certainly did not. They thought this over in their heads many times, and they came to the same conclusion each time.

You are worth letting in. You are understanding and non-judgmental, and they know you love them back.

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8. Marriage will be an awkward conversation for them

By this point, they love you, you know everything that makes them who they are, you’ve both met each others families, but something is still off. First of all, try not to get frustrated with them. To most, marriage is a fairy tale, and one that didn’t go so well in their family.

Don’t get mad, as it’s all they know. Over time they will start to see a long future with you, and they will be more open to trying to understand what marriage with you could be like.

9. Marrying you will be the happiest day of their life

Once they get over the initial shock that they are actually getting married, they will be overjoyed. At this point, they have moved on from their past, and they are looking forward to starting a new life with you.

They are all about you, and this will genuinely be the happiest day of their lives – until the two of you have kids.

10. They will make an amazing parent

Because of all they have gone through as a child, they will know exactly how they want to be with their children. They will want to give their children the life they wish they would have had.

Becoming a parent can be terrifying for anyone, but they will take it in stride. If you are lucky enough to make it this far with them, they you are their everything, and they will look forward to making your little family the best it can be.

Featured photo credit: Cute couples via blog.lib.umn.edu

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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