One of the biggest hurdles to understanding your lover is to learn to listen without fear. To let go of defenses. In order to survive as children we learn defensive skills. When we grow up and want a close relationship, we still use those skills as if we are in danger from our lover. We are afraid that he/she might not speak to us or love us any more.
Early in our marriage Everett would walk out of the room when there was conflict. I would withdraw, shut-down, and be hurt when there was conflict. We had to learn how to let go of those defenses and listen to each other. Now that we can do that, we have found that love and intimacy have increased. We can be ourselves, say what we think and feel and still know that we are accepted and loved. We look forward to coming home to safety instead of dreading to come home because we don’t know what to expect.