The most important V-Day gift you can give.
It's that time of year again, when the candy, flowers and teddy bears come out of hiding. It's the Hallmark holiday that reminds you to tell that special someone you love them. There are many ways to say "I love you" and this year, in honor of Valentine's Day, focus on one of the most important. That is....drum roll please...listen to your partner.
You heard right. Really listening helps them feel valued and loved. This can be easier than you think. You don't have to fix or defend anything. You don't even have to agree. You just have to listen. If listening doesn't come natural to you, no worries! Studies show that listening is a skill that can be learned. Clients often tell me this is true because we practice it in the Marriage Repair Workshop. Listening is one of the key ingredients in a healthy relationship. One of the listening skills practiced in the workshop is called mirroring. Mirroring is accurately reflecting back the content of your partner's message followed by checking in for clarity. Since communication always involves two perspectives, it's important to try and understand your partner's world with attention and care.
Mirroring might go something like this: Your partner expresses something important. Rather than jumping in with how that makes you feel, try saying, "So what you're saying is..." or "Let me see if I understand you..." Then you check in asking, "Did I get you?" or "Is there more you want to say about that?" It's a curious, focused attention, a willingness to suspend your own perception for just a moment and be fully part of your partner's world.
Mirroring does a couple of important things. It cultivates a safe connection between you. When we feel safe, we want to do the fun stuff like nurture, play and mate. Secondly, this skill virtually obliterates misunderstanding because you're reflecting and checking in to be sure you heard that message. It's fool proof. So the next time you're tempted to give your partner that brilliant piece of insight into their problem, try a little mirroring. You might be surprised at how well you connect!
So go ahead and pick out your favorite chocolates, sentimental cards and stuffed bears. But remember to give your partner one of the most important gifts you can this Valentine's Day...the gift of listening.
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Valentine's Day isn't the only day for best behavior. Relationships flourish when we repeatedly practice skills that help us bond. Click here to read more about the upcoming Marriage Repair Workshop and register today!
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