“Stop fighting with each other and start fighting for one another” – Staci Lee Schnell
In a fight there is a winner and a loser and most of us want to win. So, if you are fighting with your spouse, and you are the winner, that would make them the loser. Do you really want your partner to be a loser? Wouldn’t it be better if your marriage was the winner? Communicating clearly and effectively with your spouse allows for a healthier and happier marriage.
It’s perfectly okay and completely normal to have disagreements and different points of view from your partner. Validation is essential in honoring your spouse’s different opinion. But how can you validate them if you aren’t listening to them? Active listening can alleviate interruptions, misunderstandings and heated emotions.
Try the following communication tool:
- Partner A is the speaker while Partner B is the listener.
- Partner A speaks, without blame, their truth, point of view, or issue.
- Partner B listens without interruption. Feel free to take notes.
- Partner B says, “What I heard you say is…” and in their own words summarizes what they heard Partner A say.
- Then Partner B says, “Did I get it right?” Partner A answers “yes” or “no”. If yes, Partner B says “Is there anything else?” Partner A answers “yes” or “no”. If no, it’s time for step 3.
- If Partner A answers no to “Did I get it right?” They stay calm. They don’t get upset at their partner. They simply try saying it in a different way.
- Partner B tries again with, “What I heard you say” and “Did I get it right?”
- Don’t move on to step 3 until Partner B gets it right and Partner A has nothing else.
Partner B now validates Partner A. If an apology is needed, this is the time. This step is about making Partner A feel completely heard and understood. It doesn’t mean that Partner B needs to agree with Partner A.
Switch speaker and listener roles and repeat steps 2 and 3 in the new roles.
Now that each has been heard and validated, come up with a plan of action like:
- The next time X happens we are going to do Y.
- This is the decision, compromise we are making and we can agree to disagree.
The above communication tool promotes active listening, which brings about a positive change in attitude towards each other.
Validate Each Other With Your Communication Style
Instead of fighting, couples are communicating honestly and effectively with less defensiveness and anger. Paraphrasing, summarizing, and clarifying allows for true validation.
Validation communicates to your partner that the relationship is important, even if you don’t agree on the issue. Mutual validation is essential in a healthy and happy relationship because each feel heard, valued and understood. Feeling validated by your spouse can help one to feel appreciated and loved.
Timing of the above communication tool is important.
If one of you is feeling heated or flooded, take some time to calm down. Take 10-20 minutes to reflect on your emotions and ask yourself some questions.
- Why am I upset?
- What am I trying to convey?
- What triggered me?
- How can I express myself clearly?
Make sure to not sweep the event, issue, or topic under the rug and not discuss it. Don’t hold back to avoid conflict. That will only promote resentment for the unresolved issues.
After the 10 or 20 minutes, come back together and use the tool. If the circumstances don’t allow for the conversation to be had right away, put a pin in it and revisit it as soon as possible.
Marriage Counseling can help couples clearly and effectively utilize the active listening and validation techniques described above. Couples Counseling helps to create a better understanding of each other and deepen emotional bonds.
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