Attentive Listening: 4 Tips to Improve Your Relationship
It's not uncommon in couples therapy or marriage counseling to explore and help resolve interpersonal conflict in a marriage. Every couple experiences conflict and disagreement.
A marriage is a partnership between two different people with varying opinions and past experiences. Add the stress of work and children, and a marriage is rife with potential discord and dissension.
A thriving relationship is one where both partners strive to better understand the perspective of their partner. The only way to understand another person's point of view is by attentive listening.
What is attentive listening? Attentive listening is holding space for your partner without getting defensive. This can be difficult because our partner can easily trigger us with their words.
Attentive listening is important because it helps our partners experience that we care about them and their views.
4 Tips to Become an Attentive Listener
Changing how we communicate and listen can be a challenge at first. We have strengths that we bring into the change in communicating and listening. We also have other habits that we may need to break while learning a new way to listen.
As a couples therapist and marriage counselor, I share the 4 tips below with couples I work with. We practice in session then I encourage them to practice in between sessions.
Below are 4 tips I share to help couples improve their listening skills to help them become a more attentive listener.
1. Start with Curiosity
It's easy to approach your partner with a strong bias. It's a great temptation to assume what your partner is going to say before they get a chance to express it.
Curiosity is about openness and and a willingness to learn something new. If you come to your partner with a spirit of humility and openness, you'll likely be surprised by them.
If you can approach them with curiosity, you'll be less prone to judgement. You can express curiosity by asking clarifying questions and not rushing to conclusions.
2. Connect with your Inner Silence
Oren J Sofer writes, "To truly listen depends on a kind of inner silence. It requires that we empty ourselves and make space to receive something new."
Connecting with your inner silence does not mean you have to give up on your views and convictions. Inner silence is not synonymous with being a door mat. It simply means that you temporarily set aside your views so you can create space for your partner's words.
How do we connect with our inner silence? Some people practice a form of prayer or meditation. Others try deep breathing techniques that help quiet the mind and help the body feel more grounded.
3. Listen to Understand, Not Respond
Attentive listening is connected to the right motive or intention. If we're honest with ourselves, many of us listen to respond to our partners instead of understanding them.
We are busying formulating a response to what they are saying instead of being curious and connecting to our inner silence.
Attentive listening is not the same as agreeing with your partner. It is surely not about condoning problematic behavior.
Attentive listening is a posture of being open to where your partner is coming from. It is possible to understand and validate your partner's experience without agreeing with them.
4. Cultivate Compassion
Holding what your partner says with compassion can help you be less defensive. Even when you strongly disagree with them, realize they are distressed and struggling to get their needs met.
Extending compassion to your partner can be the necessary key to understanding them and encouraging them to return the favor.
Here are a few things you can do to help you express more compassion:
Take a break during the conflict
Go for a short walk
Imagine yourself in your partner's shoes
Remember a time your partner supported you in a time of need
Connect with your emotions
Marriage Counseling Can Help
Couple's therapy and marriage counseling can help you and your partner practice attentive listening. Attentive listening is a difficult skill to learn without the proper support and training.
A marriage counselor or couples therapist can help you learn how to approach your partner with curiosity and can help you connect with your inner silence.
In marriage therapy you can practice different strategies to help you be more compassionate. Learning the right skills can help your marriage grow and develop into something really great!
Marriage Counseling or Couples Therapy at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Katy, Tx & Houston
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, our marriage therapists and couples counselors can help you overcome barriers in your relationship and help add strength to the relationship. Marriage counseling or couples therapy can help when the problems escalate and may feel overwhelming. This is a relationship worth fighting for and we can help!
Our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen and Family Counseling, is conveniently located off of I-10 and 99. We are about 4-5 blocks behind the Academy Sports in Katy, Tx.
If it's time to meet with an experienced, objective, unbiased, and caring person, our therapists are standing by to help. If you are ready, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Speak with one of our marriage counselors or couples therapists
Let us help you strengthen your communication foundation in your relationship!
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Serving Katy, Tx & Houston
At the Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we also provide teen therapy, young adult counseling, and family counseling services.
Below are a few of the other counseling services we provide for teens, families, and young adults in Katy, Tx and Houston:
Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy
Neurofeedback for anxiety/panic attacks
Neurofeedback for social anxiety
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
About the Author
Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and an experienced couples therapist and marriage counselor.
He views each individual through the lens of the family system. Through this lens he provides: teen therapy, young adult counseling, family counseling, marriage counseling & couples therapy.
Quique has helped those who experience depression, anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, ADHD/ADD, and is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Quique also has a passion for helping teens, young adults, and adults who may be on the Autism Spectrum. He has a talent for connecting with and helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
If you're ready to start your healing journey in marriage counseling or couples therapy, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at email@example.com.