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Coping With Stress: Hers and His

When a man has a special needs child, there's a huge amount of suffering because the greatest pain and suffering for a man is the feeling of powerlessness -- that he can't solve a problem.
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John Gray With Anat Baniel: Tips 16 and 17 -- The Venus Talk for Her and What to Do for His Suffering

As you recall from our previous post, women need to talk (a lot) to help them alleviate their stress and reestablish well-being. In this post, John Gray shares an important communication tool to help make this happen for women. John says: "One of the most powerful new communication skills that I've found to help couples is to have a Venus Talk at least three times a week for ten minutes."

How You Can Help Her Cope With Stress

A Venus Talk is where she simply downloads her day. She can say something like:

Honey, I want to do a Venus Talk. All you have to do is look at me. There'll be no test afterwards. You won't have to do anything. You don't need to fix anything. You don't need to say anything. You don't have to say you're sorry. I just want to tell whatever is going on inside of me. I want to download the stresses of my day.

Then she takes a little bit of time to address her frustrations, her disappointments and some of her concerns. Next, she expresses appreciation for what is available in her life and for what he's done to support her. Afterwards, she can ask for a hug, and he gives her a hug. Finally, she gives him the message that he's listening to her and that this talk felt so good.

Women, in the beginning, you'll feel a little better. You'll get better at it and you'll feel better and better and better. Over time, you'll begin to look forward to those moments where you can know that you can just download whatever you are feeling to your partner, and he's not going to pout, he's not going to interrupt, he's not going to distance himself from you, he's not going to try to fix you.

It's simply a free time to connect.

And men, you'll realize: Wow, this is a huge gift to her. I'm happy to do this.

It's important that he gets the message that these Venus Talks are helping. So, that's her job -- to make sure that she gives him a warm hug and expresses sincere appreciation, saying something like:

Thank you so much for listening. This really does help me. I feel supported and loved by you, and I feel so much better.

How You Can Help Him Cope With Stress

Men feel the same stress and turmoil as women do, often for slightly different reasons. But even more significantly, they often don't know how to communicate and express their experience of stress effectively or as openly and fully as women.

But when a man has a special needs child, there's a huge amount of suffering because the greatest pain and suffering for a man is the feeling of powerlessness-- that he can't solve a problem.

What helps men to cope with and lower stress is to solve problems. As a man, if I know what to do, if I'm confident and I know how to solve this problem, then I feel good. But, if there is nothing I can do to solve the problem, then suddenly, I start to experience great suffering unless I can just forget it. That's why men will often say to each other: Oh, forget it. Don't worry about it. It's no big deal. Let's go watch a game.

But when you and your partner have a special needs child, he can't just forget it. Whenever a man has a problem and he doesn't know what to do to solve it, especially if there's some urgency, often, he will be flooded with emotions. When this happens, he feels immense suffering, and he may not know how to deal with it.

What his partner can do is understand at those times that if he does talk about what's going on, don't say anything and don't try to fix it. Don't try to help him, but simply be quiet.

Another thing that you can do is to encourage him to go out to be alone. If he wants to be alone, leave him alone. He's not abandoning you. Men often process best by calming their brain and by distracting themselves. You might even suggest that he go play basketball with his friends, saying something like:

You know, I can see you're really frustrated with this and I know it's hard on you. Let me take care of this while you go out and spend some time with your friends.

Encourage him to get away. Whatever is stressing him out, he needs to have time to recenter himself by doing something else, and then coming back to it.

And the most important thing is for you to be nonjudgmental, giving him unconditional love and appreciation that you know he is doing his best. When he knows this, it makes an enormous difference for him. John Gray shares his experience with this: "I remember one time, I was exhausted from my work from typing for 18 hours on a book and my wife saw me and she said, 'I am sure glad I don't have your job.' I felt so appreciated!"

So, anything that you can do to acknowledge that he is putting forth effort, and you appreciate that effort, makes a significant difference to a man. Women, this is one of the insights you need to help support your partner going through the challenges of raising a child, whether your child has special needs or not.

WATCH: The Venus Talk to Cope With Stress
Tip #16 From John Gray

WATCH: His Suffering - What She Can Do
Tip #17 From John Gray

Please let us know how these tips are working for you! And watch for our next video blog Tip #18 with John Gray: Managing Our Desire to be Perfect.

Attend a free, experiential 2-hour "Children With Special Needs" Workshop with Anat Baniel on August 3 in San Rafael, California.

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