When you’re in a couple, it’s important to listen to your partner. It’s difficult to hear the other person when there’s resentment between the two of you. When you don’t see eye to eye in a relationship, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to listen to each other; however, it’s natural that you don’t want to hear your partner when you’re angry. However difficult it is to listen to the other person when you’re mad, it’s crucial to the relationship to do so. Some couples therapy exercises focus on active listening. There are a few techniques you’ll learn as a couple when you work with a therapist that will help you listen to your partner.
When you talk to your partner, you want them to hear you. One way to determine if they’re listening is to ask them to repeat what they said back to you; this is called “paraphrasing.” You can ask your partner to paraphrase what you just said. Then, they’ll say in their own words what you told them about how you feel. It might sound redundant but hearing your thoughts repeated back to you is emotionally validating. It shows that your partner cares and they have engaged in active listening.
It’s tempting when you’re in a relationship to want things to be the way that they were before they stopped working. It’s hard to admit that your relationship is on the rocks. It may hurt you or make you feel like there’s something wrong with you or you might think you’re bad at relationships. These thoughts are natural, but they’re not true. You’re trying the best that you can at this moment. The fact that you’re in couples therapy shows that you’re dedicated to working on your connection with your partner. The first thing you can do is accept that things are not going well; this is a form of radical acceptance. You face the fact that things in your relationship aren’t working and need to change. You confront that life is tough and don’t fight against your painful feelings. Accept what your partner is telling you and face your feelings as well. Acceptance one of the most important parts of healing a relationship.
Your couples therapist might have you participate in an exercise of role-playing. Maybe there are situations that you have encountered as a couple that you don’t know how to navigate. You try to work these issues out, but you find that you keep reacting the same way when you have a conflict with your partner. A couples counselor will have you participate in an exercise of role-playing. They will show you alternatives to how you can deal with the conflict you may not have thought of yourself. I know a couple that has twins, and often they fight about parenting. The father is usually with the children, and the mother is a workaholic and often at the office. She works in corporate America and doesn’t see her children as much as the father would prefer. A couples therapist would have the couple work through these issues by role-playing. The therapist may point out what isn’t working in the communication dynamic and suggest alternative ways of communicating. Learning to how to talk with one another effectively will help the couple overcome emotional roadblocks.
Listening and not interrupting
It’s tempting to interrupt your partner when what they’re saying is emotionally triggering. Maybe they’re saying something that hurts your feelings, and you want to jump in and get angry. It’s important to curb this behavior so that you can hear your partner and validate their emotions before you express how you feel. Interrupting them will frustrate your partner and you; they won’t feel like you’re hearing them and you might get extremely emotional, and they may tune you out. The solution is to practice mindfulness. Stay in the moment and listen to what your partner needs.
Your couples therapist will help you practice exercises that facilitate better communication between the two of you. Your therapist wants to help build the foundation for a stable relationship where both of you feel emotionally validated. Whether you’re working with an online couples therapist or someone in your local area, the goal is the same; to help strengthen your relationship. There’s no shame in seeking help when you can’t resolve issues on your own. Your relationship matters and that’s why you’re in couples counseling. You two can get through a challenging time and build a strong emotional bond that makes your relationship last.
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