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Couple Conversation: Listen, Hear, and Understand

Intimacy exists in a relationship when each has learned that there are two perspectives, and we need to continually seek to understand the other’s perspective through the practice of “active” or “reflective” listening.

Building on that universal need of all people to feel heard and understood, couples can become healthier and more intimate in their relationship through the exercise of active listening:

  • Listen, then summarize and repeat back what you have heard your partner say.

  • Do this periodically throughout the conversation.

When you put these two rules into practice, it helps identify potential miscommunications along the way. Your spouse says one thing. You hear something else. By summarizing and repeating, you can both stay on the same page.

Implementing this technique also helps you actively listen to your partner’s perspective. Without this structured listening method, couples often spend time preparing a response to what is being said instead of earnestly listening.

Acknowledge there are two views in your relationship, and actively listen to each other. With practice, you will cultivate a new intimacy that meets each of your needs to be heard and understood.

Patti Hatton, MA, LPC


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