“How do I get my spouse to listen to me?” is a common question I hear from couples who come into counseling. There is frustration and a desire for connection. Whether it’s a couple who recently shared their wedding vows or spouses who have been on the marriage journey for years, many people realize they are feeling disconnected and unloved because their communication skills are lacking.  

Communicating effectively is a foundational element of a healthy marriage; helping couples to feel loved and connected.

Broken down, communication is defined as follows:

  • Seeking to Understand
  • Seeking to be Understood

Before the couple leaves my office from their first visit I teach them a technique called Reflective Listening. It is a strategy to help couples understand and hear one another.

The steps for Reflective Listening are:

  1. Turn off all distractions ie phone, tv, radio
  2. Give your spouse complete attention.
  3. Use eye contact.
  4. Listen to understand.
  5. Do not judge.
  6. The speaker shares what is on his/her mind.
  7. The listener repeats back the essence of what the speaker said. It does not need to be parroted. However, listen for understanding and rephrase it. Even add phrases such as “That must be so frustrating for you.” Or “I’m so excited for you!” depending on the content communicated.
  8. Ask the speaker: “Did you feel heard?”

This technique is one of many tools available on the journey to answering the question: “How do I get my spouse to listen to me?”. My hope is that it will be a step for couples to feel connected once again.

~Sandra B Stanford

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