You’ve had those moments, haven’t you? Moments when your partner gets exasperated and accuses you of “not listening” to them in the middle of a conversation. Perhaps you roll your eyes or immediately feel offended and instantly shoot back, “I am listening!”
But did you really stop to consider whether that claim is actually true or why your partner thinks you are not tuned in to them?
In those moments, it can help to be a bit more present and a lot more curious. Paying attention to how you’re listening, and the way it influences mutual understanding could go a long way in reducing unresolved conflict and supporting a stronger bond.
Listening is Essential in a Healthy Relationship
Why? Listening is essential in a healthy relationship and to do it well, any couples therapist will tell you that it is an active process. It takes practice and intention. When the quality of your connection deepens, more meaningful conversations happen. You and your partner start to feel seen, heard, and understood. From there, the relational sky’s the limit.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Are you interested in learning how to incorporate active listening techniques that can transform the way you connect and communicate? Great!
Please read on:
Why Couples Therapists Say Listening is So Important
Good listening is not something many of us are explicitly taught. As children, we were often directed to obey the command, “Listen!” Depending on your disposition, you likely complied or stubbornly rebelled.
Listening, as an adult, to someone you love, raises the stakes. Your connection and relationship satisfaction depends on your commitment to listening well. Staying present and attentive to your partner matters. Listening for understanding builds rapport and communicates genuine respect.
If you can grasp and practice the fundamentals of active listening, your partner feels more safe and comfortable sharing their inner world. If they are free to share, clarify, and revise their point of view, closeness naturally follows. From there, mutual appreciation and gratitude flow easily as deeper and more meaningful interactions occur.
Tips from a Couples Therapist: How To Become the Active Listener Your Partner Needs
Show (Not Tell) That You Are Listening
Active listeners convey interest without saying a word. What do your face and body communicate? Are you looking away, distracted by your phone, or in any way indicating that they don’t have your full attention? Notice and observe your partner fully so that they can feel your interest.
Those moments are not for multitasking. Keep your face and body open and engaged. Physically respond to verbal and nonverbal cues. Nodding and comfortable eye contact keep the energy positive and communicate your receptivity.
Resist the Urge to Interrupt
Meaningful conversations happen when partners are allowed to fully share their thoughts. Even if you have something helpful or insightful to share, let your partner finish their thoughts completely. Be patient and seriously weigh their perspective before contributing your view.
Permitting them to communicate their thoughts and feelings is vitally important when they have the floor. Your willingness to honor and respect them in those moments is extremely valuable relationship currency. Finding another moment to say your piece is worth the trust built by resisting the urge to chime in.
Make Space For Full Expression
In addition to resisting the urge to interrupt, do your best to recognize and respect your partner’s expressive capability. Your partner is not you. Does your partner struggle to communicate generally? Are they so passionate about a topic that it takes time to adequately share their views?
The quality of your conversations will benefit if you honor their need to pause or gather their thoughts by not pushing them to say or do something else. Sometimes, a topic can be so fraught with meaning that a break in the conversation is required. This is not an opportunity to hurry them up, debate them, or outline your discussion points. Waiting patiently conveys that you want to hear all they want to express rather than compete to be heard.
Make the Effort to Empathize
Intentionally making the mental and emotional space to put yourself in your partner’s position adds a deeper level to your conversations. Can you imagine how it feels to have their issues, emotions, and memories? If so, you will likely find that validating and affirming them comes easier. Empathy goes a long way in making them feel understood and accepted, two vital components for meaningful dialogue.
It’s also important to understand that you don’t have to agree with your partner’s views. Honesty is still vital. Your goal is to actively lean in and attempt to identify with their concerns or the associated depth of emotion they are entrusting you with during the discussion.
Ask Thoughtful, Relevant Questions
If you’re listening intently, you can support your partner with a few key questions. Again, this is not the time to slip in your point of view or take over the conversation. Instead, keep communication clear by making relevant inquiries that reflect that you are present and engaged. Communicate that you care enough to hear them out and think through their frame of mind.
Leave the Conversational Door Open
So what happens when you’ve listened well and the floor is yours? What matters most is fostering a sense that your relationship is strong and nonjudgmental. Emotional safety, acceptance, and curiosity are worth the effort. Invite further discussion. Leave conversations seeing your spouse or partner as a whole person. They have much to teach you and a lifetime of thoughts to share.
READY TO MEET WITH A COUPLES THERAPIST IN MIAMI, FL?
Improve communication and connection in your relationship by embarking on a transformative journey with Relationship Experts, Florida’s leading couples therapy practice. Our experienced couples therapists provide a safe and supportive environment where you and your partner can openly communicate, address underlying issues, and develop effective strategies to spark interest, appreciation, and intimacy. Take the first step towards a thriving and fulfilling partnership by scheduling a session with Relationship Experts and investing in the future of your relationship. Follow these three simple steps to get started:
- Schedule a free consultation or call our office at 305-507-9955 to ask about couples therapy.
- Meet with a skilled couples therapist for your first couples therapy session.
- Begin listening actively and intentionally creating more meaningful conversations with your partner!
OTHER SERVICES PROVIDED BY RELATIONSHIP EXPERTS
At Relationship Experts, our team provides a wide range of services to help you and your partner reconnect and rediscover your relationship. Our Miami, FL-based counseling office offers many different services online throughout Florida besides helping couples communicate in Couples Therapy, including Affair Counseling, Infidelity Recovery Program, and Communication Counseling. We also offer online therapy sessions for couples looking to heal their relationship conveniently. Check out our blog for more articles like this!