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    I’ve heard it said that we don’t need more talkers, we need more listeners. With everything we are dealing with these days  and leaning on our partners for, this couldn’t be more true.

    Do you ever have a long, difficult day and can’t wait to come home and tell your significant other all about it only to feel disappointed with the interaction? One of the reasons why this conversation didn’t go well is because you don’t have a great listener. Did you know there are 3 kinds of listening (according to Terry Real at the Relational Life Institute)?

    -Empathic listening: this type of listening is focusing on conveying compassion and understanding for what your partner is going through. The key to this type of listening is that the focus is on THEIR experience and feelings. It can sound like: “that really sucks!” “Wow, that was really frustrating for you. I would be frustrated too!”

    -Problem solving: do I even need to explain this one?! This is usually our favorite way of listening. It’s difficult to hear about a hardship that your partner has experienced. We want to relieve them and help them. We also feel more empowered when fixing a problem. Empathy can make us feel more vulnerable, but problem-solving makes us feel like we can do something to make the situation better. So when we need a brainstorming session, this way of listening is a home run!

    -Sharing: this type of listening allows the listener to add their shared experience and express a similar story. This type of listening can help you feel less alone. This can sound like, “that’s happened to me before too!” “Wow, that reminds me if when I did this…” But, if you are wanting the focus to be on you, this can be really frustrating!

    So what can you do if you are wanting one way of listening, but your partner is providing a different way of listening? We need to help our significant others help us.

    You can give yourself the amazing experience of being listened to, if you give your significant other an idea of what you are looking for. This can sound like this: “Wow, I had quite the terrible day. I really want to share this with you and I’m looking for empathy (or a solution or for you to share if you’ve come across this too).”

    Stating what kind of listening you need sets you up for getting your needs met and helps your partner know exactly how to meet those needs. That’s a win win, isn’t it?!

    If you are wanting more support in your relationship, consider scheduling a couple’s therapy session with me so we can begin creating the relationship you long for.

    PS: I am now licensed in Wyoming! If you are looking for a couple’s therapist in Wyoming, contact me! I can do online sessions, or you can visit my office only 1 hour from Cheyenne.
    I continue to do marriage counseling in my Loveland office and can see any couple in Colorado or Wyoming online.