Every marriage comes with conflict whether that be problems with money, parenting, expectations, intimacy, or a sin committed by a partner. If you are unable to successfully communicate with one another it might feel as though you are on a merry – go-round, constantly having the same conversations about the same topics.
If this is you I have good news. It’s called speaker-listener technique and it can help. This approach will help you and your partner communicate in a clear and safe way. The goal is for both parties to be able to speak their mind, but also get the chance to genuinely reflect on how their partner is feeling as well.
How it Works
This technique is successful because both people get a chance to be the speaker and the listener. Knowing your role will help you stay on topic instead of jumping from one subject to the next. It will also avoid dealing with interruptions, mind-reading, and jumping to conclusions.
Helpful Tip: Hold an object like a pen, phone, or a paper with the rules on them when you are the one speaking. This will help clarify and respect the person expressing their thoughts and feelings.
When you are the speaker it is important to remember that you are going to get more than one time to talk, so you don’t have to say everything all at once. Set a timer and talk for 3 minutes, making sure to give time to for the listener to rephrase what they hear every 30 seconds or less. This gives the listener a better chance of understanding what you are saying because there is not as much information. When its a really hot topic make sure that the speaker keeps statements brief. And never go on and on or you will likely not be heard and the listener may become overwhelmed.
As the speaker you want to focus on your own actions and feelings, not your partners. A good way to do this is by using “I statements”. Using these statements helps keep the topic on how something is affecting you instead of putting blame on your partner. Here are some examples:
- I feel frustrated when my feelings are not acknowledged.
- I felt embarrassed the other night when the topic of my weight came up in front of our friends and was hurt when you told everyone how much I weighed.
- I don’t feel valued when you are playing games on your phone when I am talking to you.
The biggest role of the listener is to paraphrase what you are hearing from the other person. By paraphrasing your partner will be able to identify if you are following along and understanding what they are communicating to you.
It is not your job to rebut, argue, or state your case when it comes to what your partner is saying. This is not an exercise in forcing you to agree with them but to simply understand them. In relationships so many arguments stem from misunderstandings. You will have time to ask questions and speak your mind when you are the speaker. As the listener, focus on the feelings and concerns of your spouse.
This is just a quick overview to help every couple improve their relationship by teaching them ways to better understand each other. There are so many more nuances we could jump into on how to make this amazing for your relationship, business, friendships… And after all that, there is a need to practice with real topics. This is where so many of us start fighting and need help.
If you are having conflicts in your marriage and are looking for a change, New Vision Counseling and Consulting is here to help. We have trained therapists who will help navigate you and your partner through whatever struggles you may be facing. The next natural step is to call us at (405) 921-7776. We look forward to hearing from you soon!