Practical Communication Tips For A Happy Marriage – Part II
Still on this communication issue!
We learned last week that when we communicate (click here), we send messages.We also learned that the way these messages are presented and received is usually what causes friction in our relationships. In essence, last week, we ‘talked’ about how to talk and this week, I’d like to discuss how to ‘listen’ to your spouse (or whomever you are attempting to communicate with).
So you said your piece…now it’s time to hear their side.
You had to talk to your partner about an issue you just had to get off your chest (hopefully, you practiced some of the communication tips I outlined last week) and now, they are running through their list of grievances. How do you go about listening to them without missing the heart of what they are saying?How do you show them that you are interested in hearing their side and vested in finding a solution to the issue you are both trying to communicate?
Again…class is in session!
Listening is an integral part of effective communication. It’s important because there are two parts to a every disagreement a couple has (because a relationship typically comprises two very different people) and to think that saying your piece should be sufficient, is to be quite unrealistic. Your spouse’s perspective on how that same exact issue might have played out and the reasons why they acted the way they did, could be polar opposites of what your thoughts are…and this is ok.
Where the rubber meets the road is being able to put yourself in their shoes and trying to see things from their perspective. Doing this shows them that you are attempting to understand their actions (even though you do not necessarily agree) and helps to keep the channel of communication open and the issue headed towards a resolution.
So, how exactly does one listen?
- With absolute undivided attention – This isn’t the time to dash off to attend to the kids, your mother, your friend, or the dog. This isn’t the time to cook, read the paper/book/magazine, work on some “important” task or scroll through your social network timelines. This is a time to STOP (if you can’t, respectfully ask to have the discussion at a later BUT specific time – no vague timing) and totally concentrate on what your spouse is saying. Stopping everything you are doing shows your spouse that they are important enough for you to DROP everything and tune into them.
- Without getting defensive – When your spouse is talking, do not listen with the intent to get the ammunition you need to “fire back” once they are done. This defeats the purpose. How many times have you done this and were really able to understand things from their point of view? It is basically impossible. This isn’t a time to pick out what you will use against them, it’s a time to hear them out and understand their perspective better.
- Without interrupting them – Whether you’ve had your chance to speak or not, it just isn’t a nice gesture to interrupt anyone when they are talking. Think of it this way – How excited are you when you are trying to get a word in edgewise and someone keeps cutting you off? Be honest! Same thing goes here! You’ll get your chance to talk, just listen to them while they have the floor. Don’t forget that talking over them also means that whatever you just chipped in hasn’t been heard. If you both follow this life-changing tip, you’d each have more chances to be heard in your relationship.
- Without being judgmental – Most of us are judge and jury when we have a disagreement with our spouse. As they talk, we jump up and down insisting that they should’ve been more “perfect” with their choices. Really? And you’ve never made a mistake? Judging your spouse further gives them incentive to never want to talk through issues with you (thereby making communication in your home, extinct) as no one wants to be told that they are inadequate (in not so many words). Listen to your spouse with total acceptance and there wouldn’t be a place for judgment to creep in.
- Without your ego – Our ego makes it so difficult to really hear what our spouses are saying. The ego acts like earplugs, keeping our spouse’s words outside our consciousness. It constantly tells us that we are not to blame; that we are not responsible for any wrongdoing and that our spouse is totally at fault and is the only one that needs to change. Once ego-mode is activated, it overshadows our conscience and morphs us into finger-pointing, self-righteous individuals who’ve done nothing wrong. How exactly can you put yourself in your spouse’s shoes when your ego is activated? You can’t! So please ‘let go your ego’!
There is so much we can “hear” when we really listen to the heart of what our spouses are saying. Remember that we have two ears to listen twice as much as we speak. Once we are able to listen effectively to our spouse, we are then set for the next stage in this magnificent process of fixing our communication with them…mirroring back (repeating) what you heard them say.
Can’t wait to share that with you next week.
I’d love to hear from you, ask your questions, share your views, comment, like and share this article with a loved one who might need it. You can also read my post “The One Key Ingredient Discovered In Awesome Marriages” to give you further insight on how healthy communication makes a marriage thrive.
ZeeZee is a certified Relationship and Marriage Coach who believes her purpose in life is to equip couples with the right tools for a successful relationship. Through her website and YouTube channel she shares practical tips and principles that help couples understand the inner workings of a healthy marriage.
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