Skills for Making Your Marriage Thrive
    People marry because they want to spend the rest of their lives with their partner.  They have every hope of growing together and creating a relationship that makes them feel emotionally healthy.  Two factors that are necessary for this to happen are empathy and acceptance on the part of both partners.
Empathy and Acceptance
Empathy is the capacity to put oneself in another’s shoes and understand how they view their reality, how they feel about things.
Demonstrating empathy and acceptance is critical to maintaining a strong relationship.  Let’s look next at some communication skills that enable you to create a climate of empathy, acceptance, and understanding.  First we will explore a skill called Active Listening.
Active Listening.
Active listening is a way of communicating that creates the important climate of empathy, acceptance, and understanding.
  • It is a two-step response to a statement made by your partner.
  • It includes reflecting back what emotion you detected in the statement, and the reason for the emotion.
  • This is what active listening sounds like:

“Sounds like you’re upset about what happened at work.”
“You’re very annoyed by my lateness, aren’t you?”

Why Active Listening Is a Valuable Skill
Active listening is a valuable skill because it demonstrates that you understand what your partner is saying and how he or she is feeling about it.
  • Active listening means restating, in your own words, what the other person has said.
  • It’s a check on whether your understanding is correct.
  • It demonstrates that you are listening and that you are interested and concerned.
Actively listening does not mean agreeing with the other person.  The point is to demonstrate to your partner that you intend to hear and understand his or her point of view.  This is good for your relationship for several reasons:
  • When someone demonstrates that they want to understand what you are thinking and feeling, it feels good.
  • It creates good feelings about the other person.
  • Restating and checking understanding promotes better communication and fewer misunderstandings.
More Communication Skills
Although our space is limited in this short newsletter, there are a few more communication skills that I must mention.  These include asking open-ended questions, making summary statements to check understanding, and encouraging your partner to open up and elaborate by using neutral questions and phrases.
Open-ended questions begin with what, why, how do, or tell me.
  • These questions get the other person to open up and elaborate on the topic.
  • Asking these kinds of questions gets the other person involved by giving him or her a chance to tell what he or she thinks or knows.
  • These questions are designed to encourage your partner to talk.
  • They are useful when the other person is silent or reluctant to elaborate.
  • They are also useful in dealing with negative emotions (such as anger or fear), since they help encourage the other person to vent feelings.
Copyright © 2007. Connie Knox All Rights Reserved     |     (636) 928-8505      |     60 Gailwood Dr. Suite C, St. Peters MO 63376