The matter of it is simple.
If you neglect seeking to understand your partner you are communicating that the experience is not as valuable as your opinion or the solution. When you jump to problem-solving it can shut down your partner and his experience.
In order to establish and strengthen a bond of trust within your relationship, find ways to communicate a desire to understand your partner better. You can achieve this through asking open-ended questions (any question that cannot be answered in a one-word response). Or, simply invite her to "tell me more about that".
Creating an atmosphere of safety and understanding opens the lines of communication that can easily become blunted if you jump to trying to solve the problem at hand.
- Be in the moment with your partner. If you feel you may be distracted, take a minute of mindfulness to feel the ground beneath your feet and the coolness of the air as it enters your nostrils when you inhale and the warmer air you feel as you exhale.
- Be in the trenches with your partner. When you ask questions, try to exercise empathy through putting yourself in your partner's shoes. Try to comprehend more explicitly what he is experiencing. Also, ask questions to your partner to make sure you are understanding him correctly (be open for correction here. If he states it differently than you had initially thought, allow that to mold your perception of his perspective).
- Understand and validate. Showing understanding does not mean you agree with everything your partner is saying. The perception she has may be completely different than your own. But the validation here of "You're making total sense" or "I can see how that would really upset you" communicates that you're on the same page, the same team, and ready to problem-solve this together.
Understanding must precede advice.