First Aid for Marriage
By Eric Bird of Family College for Marriage Resource
In many cases, all they need is someone who will listen to them. It will help them to think things through as they talk to you. One of the problems they may have is that they feel their partner never listens. It may take a lot of pressure off them to know you are listening. Of course this is only going to help in the short term, but it may reduce the tension and allow one of them to calm down.
In this sort of situation, you may find that you are taking on board some of
their anger, frustration and disappointment. This may be good for your friend but not for you! A real danger is that in taking upon yourself the other person's bad feelings you may find yourself off-loading it onto your own husband or wife! After meeting the couple (or either one of them) it is good to make a deliberate effort to change back from the helper role to your own role
as husband or wife. Take the burden off your own shoulders but don't put it on your spouse!
There are ways of listening. People need to know that you are interested.
Try to find a quiet place, where you can give your whole attention to their
problems. Your body language will often indicate how interested you are,
so listen carefully and be real.
Few of us are naturally goodlisteners. Many people feel they've never been properly listened to in their lives. It could be of great significance to the couple that you have given them time. Strangely,just because you've listened, they will probably think you're a great conversationalist!
The way you listen may help them to learn to listen to each other:-
- Concentrate on understanding what they are trying to say.
- Do not think about what you're going to say next.
- Ask for clarification if you are not sure what they mean.
- Try feeding back what you think they meant so that they can confirm or correct it.
- Ask questions, but avoid if possible the sort of questions that can be answered by 'yes' or'no'.
When you have listened carefully, ask if they found the listening helpful.
Suggest that they might try it with their partner - that is listening rather
Listening is the key to good communication - the receiving set is as important as the transmitter! Even if a TV. programme is superbly filmed and edited, and is broadcast by a powerful transmitter, the quality of the picture will depend on the receiving set in your living room being tuned in properly. It is just the same with human conversation. However clearly someone speaks,
unless the other person is listening carefully the message will not be received as it was intended.