We all know we should spend more quality time talking to our partners, but knowing how to have heart-to-heart talks in the busy-ness of everyday life is easier said than done.
Couples therapy experts recommend spending a bit of time together every day to check in with each other. This is more realistic and sustainable when combined with an activity you’re already be doing every day, such as having breakfast or dinner together, or when you settle down and get comfy at night.
Ideal would be to do this in a similar way every day, making sure to eliminate distractions. Take turns talking and listening. Here are some ideas on how to have the best outcome:
Show that you’re interested
Ask questions that demonstrate that you really want to know, such as: How did that meeting go? What did you find out? What was the best/worst part? How do you feel about that? What does that mean to you? What are you going to do next?
Show that you get it
Say things like: Wow, that sounds stressful! I bet that’s not at all what you expected. You have a lot on your plate!
Show that you understand the feelings
That’s really sad. You must be furious! I can understand why you feel disappointed. I bet you’re so relieved! When that happened to me, I was a mess!
Show that you’re on your partner’s side
Congratulations! I’m so proud of you! He said what? - That guy is a total jerk! How could she treat you like that?
None of this is "new", but how often do we only half-listen, or focus only on the content of what is being said rather than our partner’s underlying feelings, or are tempted to correct our partner’s perspective, or worse, take a third party’s side? Exactly. So it is really about making that conscious effort to be present and mindful, and making it a daily habit.