NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, October 27, 2014

The Importance of Active Listening in Your Relationship

In my prior article,  Are You Having Problems Communicating in Your Relationship,  I began a discussion about communication problems in relationships.  I focused on common communication problems that people often make when they speak to their spouse or partner.  The focus of this article is the importance of active listening, which is a challenge for many couples.

The Importance of Active Listening in Your Relationship

What is Active Listening?
While learning to speak to your spouse or partner is important, learning to be an active listener is just as important.

Many couples have problems communicating with each other because they're not listen to one another.

Sometimes people don't even realize that they're not listening to their spouse because they're so preoccupied with their own thoughts and feelings.

Rather than listening, each person is impatiently waiting for his or her turn to speak.  He or she is focused on what how to respond and make his or her own points.

Unfortunately, when you do that, you miss out on what your spouse is trying to communicate to you.  Usually, your spouse can tell that you're not listening and this becomes frustrating for him or her.

When you're not actively listening to what your spouse has to say, it usually makes him or her angry and hurt.

The First Step is to Become Aware of How You Interact With Your Spouse
The first step is to become aware of whether or not you're an active listener.

Active listening means putting yourself in the other person's shoes and listening empathically.

When you're an active and empathic listener:
  • you're looking at your spouse directly and not averting your gaze
  • you're focused on what your spouse is saying without anything else to distract you
  • you sense what your spouse is saying
  • you're aware of what your spouse is implying even if it's not said explicitly because you're picking up on nonverbal cues as well as what's begin said verbally.  This means that you're listening for more than just the words.
  • you're able to follow and consider what you're spouse is saying
  • you show your spouse by how you listen and acknowledge what he or she says that you're listening
  • you show your spouse not only with words but also by your body language, which is open and receptive that you're actively listening
  • don't focus on what you're going to say next--just focus on what you're spouse is saying

The Next Step:  Develop Active Listening Skills
The next step is to learn to develop the skill of active listening.

Active listening with empathy is a skill that most people need to learn and practice.

Once you've learned to be an active and empathic listener and your spouse also learns this skill, it can go a long way to help improve communication in your relationship.

Some people can learn this skill on their own.  Many people in relationships learn to listen actively by developing this skill in couples counseling.

In my next article, I'll give a fictionalized scenario that demonstrates some of the common communication problems that arise in relationships and how couples therapy can help.

Getting Help
Communication problems are common in many relationships, so you and your spouse or partner are not alone.

Just like any skill, you and your spouse can learn to develop better communication skills in couples counseling with a licensed mental health professional who works with couples.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individuals and couples.

I have worked with many couples to help them improve their communication.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.