How to Really Listen to Your Spouse
In a long-term relationship, it becomes important to be able to listen to your partner. As you
live your lives together, sometimes important and even difficult conversations must be had in order for the two of you to stay close and continue to understand each other. Putting off these conversations or failing to have them entirely can lead to impromptu and a lot less respectful encounters commonly known as fights. Consider trying to improve your ability to listen to and understand the other person’s point of view.
Are You Really Listening?
Especially in personal and emotional matters, it’s easy to start responding defensively instead of actually listening to what is being said. In this state, you may feel as though you already know what your partner is about to say, then spend your listening time mentally preparing your rebuttal rather considering their words. Many people don’t even realize they have been doing this, but afterward, it can be easy to put those defensive thoughts aside and start listening completely.
What Is the Best Way to Listen?
When your partner is explaining themselves, sit quietly and don’t try to think of what you’ll say next. Instead, focus on the words and emotions being expressed by the other person. It’s important not to jump in with opinions or emotional responses if you can help it. Let your partner say their whole piece and discuss it calmly when they’re done. To clarify and show you understand, try starting with “Okay, let me tell you what I heard…” and say back to them what they told you. This will give you a chance to go over any misunderstandings without either party getting defensive.
How To Know If You’ve Listened Well
When your partner is done talking, if you have listened well it will show in their body language and yours. You will know when they feel understood and they will know that you have done your best to understand them. If either of your postures is still defensive or tense, you may have succeeded at listening but the important discussion is probably not over.
Techniques for Discussing Without Arguing
If you want to make sure both sides are heard without heated interruptions, agree to each take a 10-minute turn talking while the other listens quietly. This will give both you and your spouse time to concisely say your full point and form responses in a careful and respectful way. If the issue at hand is logistical rather than emotional, try a goal-oriented form of communication. For discussing a shared goal like planning a vacation, draw up an agenda and work together to cross off the items. You will both feel closer to each other after cooperatively achieving your goal.
Listening to and understanding your partner is a major key to a long and happy relationship. When both of you learn this valuable communication skill, you become able to know each other more deeply. If you have been having trouble communicating with your spouse, consider suggesting to them that you both practice better listening and discussion techniques together.
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