As they work through their first session, Jordan brings up one of her main problems with Tom – he never seems to listen!! Let’s see what Mandy (their therapist) has to say:
Mandy: Tom and Jordan, communication is the key to any successful relationship, and it sounds like you’re struggling here. Let’s talk about how we can help you two open up to each other and be heard.
Jordan, you mentioned that Tom doesn’t really hear you. What do you mean by that?
Jordan: Well, when I try to talk to him about our issues, he just gets defensive and shuts down. He won’t really listen to what I have to say.
Mandy: That’s a tough spot to be in. It can be difficult to communicate when we feel like our words aren’t being heard.
It’s like trying to catch a fish with no bait. You can cast your line all you want, but if you don’t have the right bait, you’re not likely to catch anything. So, it’s important to make sure that both of you are in a space where you feel heard.
Tom, when Jordan tries to talk to you, what’s going through your mind?
Tom: I feel like she’s attacking me and I just want to defend myself.
Mandy: I can see how that can be difficult. It’s natural to feel defensive in those situations. What can you do to make sure you’re both being heard and understood?
Tom: I can try to stay calm and really listen to what she’s saying.
Mandy: That’s a great start. It’s also important to ask open-ended questions so that you can really understand each other’s perspectives. Let’s say Jordan is talking about a problem she’s having. Instead of just saying “I understand”, try asking questions like “What do you think we can do to solve this issue?” That way, you both can work together to come up with a solution.
It’s also important to practice active listening. That means repeating back what you heard and making sure you understand it correctly. This will also show your partner that you’re really trying to listen and that you care about what they’re saying.
Finally, let’s talk about body language. When we’re communicating, the way we present ourselves can often be just as important as the words we say. Be mindful of your body language and eye contact so that your partner feels heard and respected.
Tom and Jordan, communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship. It takes time and effort to really listen to each other and make sure you’re both being heard. But if you take the time to practice these techniques, I’m sure you two can work through your issues and become a stronger married couple.