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Improve couples communication with the Listening Door exercise!

Communication imoroves emotional wellness!
Communication imoroves emotional wellness!

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

by William Butler Yeats

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet,

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

William Butler Yeats’ love poem is lyrical and imagistic, speaking to us of love, hope and dreams. In my office, I ask couples to begin the Listening Door exercise by reading the above poem to each other. If they’re feeling too shy to do so, I’ll start off the session with the poem.

Yeats’ words are relevant to developing a feelings of intimacy as isn't that much of what couples are doing together?

A common complaint that brings couples to relationship counseling is that their discussions often escalate into frustrating arguments where both people end up feeling defensive and misunderstood. My Listening Door exercise develops the skill of deep listening. In this exercise, set your intention to seek to understand rather than be understood.

This exercise is:

  • a way to shift from feeling “alone in this” to feeling “together in this”
  • is NOT a discussion to problem solve, it’s a discussion to open your hearts to each other
  • The intention is to deepen intimacy and emotional understanding

Aren’t we hoping to build dreams and hopes together? Hoping our partner will share and be gentle to our dreams?

In this exercise, seek to understand, not to only and always be understood.

Try this, it’s simple!

Choose a topic that you need or your partner want to share your feelings about. Stick to this one topic, to avoid chain reactions of blame and shame!

One person Opens the Door, slowly, at their own pace, telling their own story, talking about him or herself, not blaming or shaming.

The other person Listens at the Door, listening politely at the door, does not barge in, does not interrupt, but waits to be invited in

The person who Opens the Door:

Reads the Yeats poem first.

Discusses the topic, talks about himself, using “I” statements, without blaming the partner or anyone else, allowing the softer emotions and hopes and dreams to emerge from beneath the harder emotions of anger and distrust

The person who Listens at the Door, helps his or her partner:

Keep the Door Open by:

NOT trying to solve the problem

engaging in polite listening

seeking to understand, not be understood

NOT getting defensive, this makes it about him or her self

ALLOWING the person to talk without interrupting

TAKES in the meaning without taking things personally

ASKS NON-INFLAMMATORY, open ended, deepening questions,

such as

How do you feel about this?

What does this mean to you?

Is there anything else?

I send good wishes to you and your loved ones.

If you are needing some individual help, please find me at my website where I offer my original books, local counseling services, individualized coaching calls and online courses.

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