What if you really listened to what your spouse is saying to you in the present moment instead of assuming you already know what they are talking about? Practicing conscious listening with your spouse can make your relationship stronger. Each of you can grow from listening and your relationship can improve in the process.
Think of the times you put your own interpretation on what your spouse is saying instead of actually listening to their words. When you’re interpreting instead of listening, you are projecting your own beliefs and stories onto them. You believe your internal thoughts and you react to those thoughts. You create your own pain, and then you react to your spouse as if their words are the cause of how you feel.
It’s important to recognize that a lot of us do this, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you realize that you are being reactive. Use this new understanding as motivation to start listening actively.
Try conscious listening to stop interpreting
Here’s how to start practicing conscious listening. As soon as you realize you are interpreting instead of hearing what your spouse is saying, stop and take a few connected breaths. Focus on your breathing for a moment. This will slow down your own thoughts and bring you back to focusing on what you are hearing.
Let your spouse know what you think you heard. Then ask your spouse if that is really what they meant. You may find that these will be two different stories. It takes time to practice listening to each other without putting your own thoughts into what they are saying.
Listen actively, and then ask yourself how you behave as a listener. Questioning how you listen will show you how you might be making yourself slightly crazy by putting up wall while listening.
If you try conscious listening with everything your spouse says and does, you will start to see them as an ally in examining your reactions to your own internal thoughts and beliefs. This will cause you to re-examine your automatic assumptions of what they are saying.
Taking responsibility encourages growth
Learning to take responsibility for your thoughts makes it possible to become open to your own personal growth. And with personal growth comes a better outlook and better relationships.
One of the misconceptions about marriage is that our spouse or the relationship we are in will fill something that is missing in us. We hand over responsibility to create our own experience and make ourselves whole. Some of us see our spouses as our heroes to rescue us instead of seeing them as an ally.
Letting go of this perception that your spouse is the solution to your problems can set you on the path to loving yourself even more and taking responsibility for yourself. Changing the “hero” mindset and/or dropping the attempt to control can be a powerful way to improve your marriage.