When two people are in love, it is easy to get too comfortable and conversations suffer. It is important not just to listen to your spouse/partner but to do and say things that make him/her feel listened to.
1. Give eye contact. It heightens connection.
2. Put away the phone or computer. It shows intent to listen.
3. Turn off the TV or lower the volume. It shows concentration.
4. Nod as he/she talks. It shows you are following.
5. Touch your spouse/partner, hold or rub the hand or shoulders. It makes your spouse/partner feel safe.
6. Agree with him/her by saying words like “That must have been painful”, “That was a good choice”. It shows you are on his/her side.
7. Ask questions like “Kimathi your client from Mombasa?”, “Then what happened next?”. It encourages him/her to share more.
8. Make sounds like “Aha”, “Mmh”. It shows you are paying attention.
9. Don’t be too quick to advice. Often your spouse is not looking for advice, just to be listened to.
10. Excuse yourself when you can’t give full concentration. Suggest that you talk another time. It will show him/her you care.
11. Give the appropriate facial expression. If your spouse/partner is telling you a funny story, lighten up. If it is a sad story, give a re-assuring face.
12. If you think you can multi-task, doing something like washing the dishes or cooking as your spouse/partner talks, let him/her know you are still paying attention by saying something like, “Sorry love I can’t look at you but I am listening. It shows you are sensitive.
13. Hug him/her and say “It will be OK” especially after confiding something personal or painful. It shows affection.
Remember love is only successful when the target of your love feels and perceives that he/she is loved.