Active Listening and Other Communication Skills
Talking with your partner isn't just about honesty -- in addition, you need to select some time and make the effort to listen to what they aren't saying. Listening to your emotions behind the words can make a huge difference -- especially if your partner has trouble expressing themselves in words.
Try this exercise to take your connection to new, deeper levels.
1. Organize a session of active listening. If your spouse shies away from psycho-babble provisions, try to explain that you need to invest a little time -- 20 minutes or so -- getting to know each other better.
2. Be sure that your session won't be interrupted -- take the phone off the hook and don't smoke or eat during the 20 minutes. This encourages both spouses to concentrate on each other, and be as current as possible.
3. Take turns to listen and talk. The listener should time the session, but try to not look at the clock every minute!
4. The speaker has 20 minutes to say whatever they feel like saying. The listener shouldn't interrupt -- , but should provide the speaker their entire attention. There is no pressure to speak about specific subjects -- although you might want to steer clear of areas which you feel mad about. The speaker should avoid blaming statements or accusations -- rather, focus on what you're feeling. Even if the speaker doesn't speak, their time shouldn't be disrupted and the entire 20 minutes have to be respected. Sitting in silence may be a purposeful communication too!
5. After 20 minutes, switch roles. The new speaker isn't permitted to respond to what their partner has just said -- this could be saved until your next session of listening.
You might find this an eye-opening encounter. It's not uncommon to feel suddenly shy -- even if you've known your partner for years, profound listening provides a means to share very deep familiarity that may take you by surprise.
Resist the urge to fall into familiar arguments, and bear in mind that this exercise should be carried out in an atmosphere of trust, respect and gentleness. Allow emotions to surface and do not be put off if your spouse surprises you with their words -- you could discover new facets to your connection you never knew existed!