Fixing Relationships: Active and Reflective Listening

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With active and reflective listening you can help ease relationship bumps in the road. Listening is a powerful tool for fixing relationship misunderstandings and building a basis for trust.

As a relationship ages sometimes we forget to really actively listen to our partner. It it is to be expected that the partnership will also have accumulated its share of pain. Misunderstandings, family traumas, guilt, blame, shame can all build up, and in the process, build a wall between people. This wall prevents us from fully hearing one another, and it has the added effect of falsely leading us to believe that we know all there is to know about the other. We don't. Our vintage pain has conjured up "answers" and "reasons" for the other's words and behaviors in an effort to explain why we hurt.

These answers and reasons are false. If they were true, understanding would be found, forgiveness could be given and healing would have occurred. Instead, these answers and reasons are merely patches or bandages on the seeping wounds of broken love and unity.

In order for a real healing to occur, we must be willing to actively listen to actually hear what is being said. Not to filter the words through our old pain, and preconceived ideas that, "Oh, when you say _____, what you really mean is _____". What we have to understand is that when "____," is said, that is exactly what is meant. Therefore, to help fix your relationship be conscious of how your listening skills are operating.

It is easy to tell when our preconceived ideas are getting in the way of the truth. This is when the idea is accompanied by a mental sneer on our part. This can be a sarcastic, derogatory, or patronizing attitude, but it will be demeaning towards our loved one in some way. No, there are no exceptions, this is how it works. You can't have a "little bit" of a nasty attitude towards your loved one and have it be based in reality. It is based solely upon old pain, disappointment or hurt.

Listen to your loved one and have them listen to you. You might try pretend that you are listening to a stranger. This may help you with reflective listening to learn more about your part in relationship issues, too. Use whatever active or reflective listening skills will help you takes to take each other seriously. Ask serious questions to gain a real understanding. Reflect after listening and share your perceptions of how you feel. Use your skills of communication for fixing the faulty areas where misunderstandings linger.