Couples – Make Time to Really Listen

Listening is at the heart of quality communication. If you learn nothing else about communicating more effectively, at least learn this truth. Without listening skills, you do not have rapport with your partner and you cannot even stay on the same subject.

The next time you are having a discussion with your spouse, instead of planning your next comment, just listen and try to understand where your partner is coming from. Just understand; do not comment; do not judge. Listening goes a long way toward developing trust between marital partners.

There are three basic steps to being a good listener:

1. You must stay on the subject.
2. You must listen to be sure you are staying on the subject.
3. You must be flexible enough to adapt your behavior if you are not staying on the subject.

Don and Maria (names have been changed) were at an impasse and considering divorce when I first met them. In spite of the great deal they had in common, in spite of the love for each other that they had once felt, in spite of having three beautiful children and a successful business, Don and Maria were incredibly poor communicators when it came to listening to each other. Their lives were so full that they had little time to listen; they seldom made time even to fill each other in on the day’s events.

Because they spent so little time together, they rarely communicated about anything. Unfortunately, when conflicts arose, the couple had no mechanism for solving them and retreated to their own separate worlds. The first step in bringing Don and Maria back together was to teach them how to listen and to make time for listening. When they scheduled fifteen minutes each day for uninterrupted listening to each other, they began to rekindle their friendship. Maria learned that Don felt very left out of the family because she handled all of their children’s affairs without consulting him. Don learned that Maria felt devalued because he handled all of their financial affairs without consulting her. Furthermore, by just listening, this couple began to recognize that they had more in common than they had realized.

Once Dan and Maria made listening a priority in their lives, the problems began to melt away. So make time to listen. Pull out your calendar and schedule in some one-on-one time to communicate. If you need the assistance of a marriage counselor and live near Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington contact my office to schedule an appointment.

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