“If we would only listen with the same passion that we feel about needing to be heard.”
I am going to ask you to read Dr. Harriet Lerner’s powerful quote twice and let it sink in. To really sink in.
Dr. Harriet Lerner is one of the most respected clinicians in the field. Personally, I have had the honor and privilege to meet and learn from her. In my opinion, she is a lovely person and a genius in the field of relationship therapy.
Her quote touches on one of the many topics that I talk about with my couples during relationship counseling. Keep in mind, effective communication is about being able to speak AND listen.
If you are looking for the answer to, “What is the lifeline to a healthy marriage?”
My answer would be…
“The lifeline to a healthy marriage is two people who can effectively communicate with respect, honesty, understanding, empathy and compassion.”
When couples can effectively communicate, they can resolve conflicts constructively, prevent misunderstandings and avoid unnecessary arguments.
Clear communication in a marriage can help promote emotional intimacy which will strengthen the emotional bond and ultimately deepen the couple’s connection.
Seven Practical Tips for Enhancing Communication and Listening Skills
1. Create Time for Open Communication
Set aside time to talk without distractions, such as phones, television, kid interruptions. Make it a habit to share your thoughts and feelings with each other openly in a safe emotional environment.
2. Use “I” Statements
When discussing sensitive topics or expressing emotions, use “I” statements instead of accusatory “You” statements. We all have the tendency to say “you” when we are talking to our spouse and it is human nature to then feel blamed and want to defend yourself. The use of the “I” statement helps avoid blame and encourages understanding.
3. Practice Empathy
Try to see things form your spouse’s perspective and acknowledge their emotions. Show genuine empathy and validation. Validating does not mean you have to agree. It means that as you are listening you can understand how your partner felt the way they are describing.
4. Eye Contact
Both the listener and the speaker should maintain eye contact. The listener could nod, or respond with “I understand,” “Tell me more,” to show that you are actively listening and genuinely want to hear and understand.
5. Avoid Interrupting
Some people tend to interrupt the speaker and want to get their point across. Many married couples interrupt each other. If you are looking for a communication game changer… Stop, postpone your own agenda, do not interrupt, listen, and let your partner finish speaking before you speak. Interrupting can be perceived as dismissive or disrespectful.
6. Be Patient and Stay Calm
During conflicts, stay patient and refrain from reacting impulsively. Take a break if needed and make sure you both return to conversation. Hopefully the break will help you each to get in a calmer state so you can have a productive conversation.
7. Contact a Relationship Expert
If communication challenges persist or you feel like toxic things are being said, do not hesitate to get help from a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT). I am a trained LMFT who can provide the two of you with some valuable guidance and share helpful tools for improving communication. I am the Relationship Expert who can help. I Transform Relationships, one relationship at a time and yours can be next.
Effective communication and active listening are the cornerstones of a successful and fulfilling marriage. When couples prioritize open dialogue, empathy and understanding they create an environment of trust, intimacy, and emotional connection.
Effective Communication is a Skill You Can Learn
My husband of 20 plus years and I continually work on our communication and listening skills. Why? Because we know that nurturing our communication will allow us to effectively navigate challenges together and all marriages, even the happiest of marriages, will have challenges.
In my marriage we are growing as a team and focus on the love that will stand the test of time.
Marriage can be and should be a beautiful journey of two people who care enough to figure out what they can each do to learn to effectively communicate. If you need some more communication tools, read “Conversations in Marriage” and “The Power of Communication in Relationships and Marriage.”
If you and your spouse need more then reading blogs, if you need my guidance and presence in the room guiding the conversations as I share communication tools, contact me .
I will happily talk about how working with me will improve your communication with your spouse and your overall satisfaction in your marriage. Do not just keep surviving, it is time to thrive.
Remember, there is great power in your words and the compassion in your ears.
Your Relationship Expert,