“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t being said.”
– Author Unknown
Communicate skills are almost always the focus when couple’s seek professional counseling and are by far the best way to facilitate a more harmonious relationship and a loving, happy home. It can be incredibly difficult though to make this happen, as the voice carries in it so many emotions, both good and bad. How often do you find yourself shouting during a discussion without even realizing it? It happens to the best of us, which is why tantric teachers tell us that the throat is the body’s place of purification, where we get to decide whether we use our energy to hurt or to heal.
The first step to proper communication is to get your negative emotions out of your systems – alone. You can’t have a loving, caring, productive conversation with your wife if you are too distracted by your own emotions to pay attention to hers. Whether you need to let the emotions drain away gently or you need to force them out violently, it needs to be done before you try to engage with anyone else.
Don’t let your anger, jealousy, pain or upset get the best of you. Go for a long walk or a vigorous run, take a long hot shower or a relaxing bath, listen to some angry music or put on some frenzied tunes and dance your heart out. If you are feeling aggressive in your anger then head to the gym and go a few rounds with a punching bag, take up a martial arts class, go chop some wood, smack a piñata (and save some of the candy for your lover!) or just drive out to the middle of nowhere and scream at the top of your lungs. All of these things are better than slamming doors, shouting at your partner or putting your fist through a wall, right?
The fine art of “active listening” can be divided into two different kinds – silent and spoken. It is incredibly important to learn the practice of silent listening first before you say anything in response to your lover. Start with an egg-timer set to one minute and try to work your way up to five. In this exercise, each of you will get the chance to speak… but one at a time. Do not interrupt, not even to try and express that you understand, or to ask clarifying questions. You will have your turn soon enough.
Just sit back, relax and focus on your wife’s every word. Sit still without fidgeting, maintain eye contact and nod when you understand what she is saying. Learn the fine art of communication through body language before you start working with words. Watch her body as she speaks to you. Does she sit up straight and confident, or hunch over with shame or fear? Does she speak clearly with conviction or does she mumble, perhaps a bit confused or unsure? Is her heart chakra open and accepting to your love and opinion, or does she close herself off by crossing her arms or turning her face away. Is she relaxed or tense, loud or quiet, soft and accepting or hard and defensive? Is she very sensitive about the topic at hand, annoyed, angry, sad, scared, frustrated, or excited? You can tell all these things just by looking closely at her body and listening to the tone of her voice.
When it comes time to speak, active listening dictates that you ease up – it’s not about speaking your own mind, or voicing your opinion, or giving advice. You will have your chance to speak your piece when it’s your turn, but for now all you should concern yourself with is understanding the words your wife is saying. As she speaks, encourage her to go on by nodding your head and making words of acknowledgement. If she says something you don’t understand, take the chance to clarify. After she has finished making one point, repeat back to her what you believe she has communicated to you without judgment or interjecting your own opinion into the matter. Reword her thoughts into your own words and give her the chance to confirm or allow her to explain again if you haven’t quite grasped it. It may take a few tries to get it right!