How Do You Process and Handle Life?
How do you and your partner process and handle life?
My husband and I are very different.
I tend to worry, am reactive and am very expressive.
My husband lets life roll, for the most part stays calm, and keeps his thoughts to himself.
When conflict arrises between us, I want to jump right in and deal with it – whether I’m calm or not.
My husband wants to avoid it, walk away and will talk about it later.
It is too bad that schools don’t teach life skills such as empathy, mindfulness and how to communicate.
Open and honest communication is such an important skill, because we are telling someone our story – our perception of the world and how we feel about it. When our partner communicates openly and honestly and we listen wholeheartedly, we embrace their story, we hear them and this says that what they have to say is important. They matter.
You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned
Effective communication skills take time and effort to master because you have to unlearn the ineffective communication habits that are causing the breakdown in your ability to communicate.
I’m an interrupter. When I listen, I’m not really listening, I’m scripting in my head my defense and my reply. I’m focused on my own emotional reaction as my husband shares his side of the story. Sometimes, I just need to be right.
My husband struggles with empathy. If he doesn’t relate to a problem, then that must mean there isn’t one.
There are 3 steps to active listening:
- Content and paraphrasing – this is the ability to detach from your own brain and interpretation to actually repeat back what your partner has said. Example: If I hear you correctly, what you’re saying is….
- Reflect emotional content – this is the ability to identify the emotions your partner is expressing and express this back to them. Example: You sound really sad and hurt right now….
- Pay attention to body language – this is the ability to pick up non-verbal cues from your partner and connect that to the content. Are their arms crossed in defense, are they not able to look you in the eye, is one leg restless? This skill helps to identify emotional content.
Speaker and Listener
These skills only work when one person is assigned the role of speaker, the other is the listener. However, the listener has to be centered and calm. If the other person is agitated, then space is needed to cool down. This is the give and take of finding the balance of when to approach the issue.
When space is needed to cool down, it is important to acknowledge that this space does not reflect an abandonment of the issue. The issue will be acknowledged, feelings will be acknowledged when one of you are ready to step into the role of listener.
Getting honest takes time and practice. It requires a safe place to be received and embraced. It is not easy when my husband tells me a behavior of mine is hurting him. Or vice versa. This is why I must be calm as the listener to receive this heartfelt admission from my husband.
Deepens Emotional Connection
This level of mature and loving communication deepens the emotional connection between you. When my husband truly feels heard, he feels respected, and deeply loved. When my husband understands my emotional reactions, I feel heard and deeply loved.
Some painful, ongoing issues between couples may need a trained therapist to mediate active listening skills; to help guide and maintain the three steps of active listening.
The skills of active listening and open & honest communication takes patience, kindness, and unwavering love. It’s gonna be messy and mistakes will be made. But the first step is awareness and a willingness to try…
Yes, Yoda! Try!! Try to evolve into doing!!
Originally published: May 2nd, 2020
About me: Stephanie Wells
I’m a Reiki Master Teacher of Usui Shiki Ryoho – the Usui System of Natural Healing. I was attuned in Levels I, II & IIIA in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. During a 6 week stay in Mararikulam North, Kerala, India I was reattuned in Levels I, II, & IIIA as well as acquiring my Level IIIB Master Teacher attunement.