Mending a marriage that we have misused is possible. Also it is well worth the hard work of learning and practicing new relationship skills that will recreate the magic. You will sometimes come to think, " Why didn't they teach this stuff in school? It is truly amazing!"
Today I will show you the Speaker - Listener technique from which you will quickly see the advantages to using it regularly. This is your new life. Get ready to enjoy something better.
Some years ago I was part of a mens group that met once per month to discuss mens' things. With 8 to 10 of us attending for 2.5 hours we needed a few ground rules so that people got an uninterrupted chance to speak for a limited time and that people didn't dominate the group.
While the Speaker had the floor, which usually wasn't longer than 15 minutes, he held the Speaking Stick in his left hand. Apparently this is an old Native Indian tradition that we adopted for our purposes. When the speaker was finished he passed the stick on to the next person. Nobody could interrupt. At the end the listeners could summarize briefly what the speaker said or ask clarifying questions. No comments or arguing.
I suggest that you use a "speaking stick" or some other visible symbol to indicate that whoever is holding the speaking stick can speak uninterrupted by the listener.
In addition to having a speaking stick a few rules are needed to guide the speaker and listener.The Rules the speaker must follow are;
1) Speak for yourself. It is not your job to speak for the listener. You cannot read their minds. Do not try to interpret their thoughts and feelings.
2) Use "I" statements about your thoughts, feelings and beliefs. A good example of the right way is "I was upset when you forgot our date." The wrong way is demonstrated as follows, "I think you don't care about me." The first is true. The second is not necessarily true.
3) Don't go on and on when you speak. Get to the point and be clear.
4) Stop and let the listener paraphrase what you said. That is,let them say back to you what you just said, in their own words, so you both can see if they understood.
Rules the listener must follow are:
1) Paraphrase briefly what you heard the speaker say. This confirms whether you have understood and have been listening to their point of view.
2) Do not rebut what the speaker said. It is important that you focus on the speaker's message. You may not offer your opinions or thoughts. This is a very difficult part for most of us. After doing the technique for awhile it will not feel so difficult even when you disagree.
So give this a try a see how well it works. It is not as easy as it looks and requires some commitment, patience and practice. This process alone can do a lot to improve your relationship.®
Next up will be a post about how to speak clearly use the XYZ model and why clarity is soooo important to the whole communication process between a couple.
Practice with an open mind and you will get there. Love and light, Bob and Marianne