Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Active" Listening

My hubby and I are going to “Family Counseling” at our local Vet Center. Truthfully, it’s been an interesting process… I’m learning things about myself and my own impact on our marriage that I never would have realized without the input of our counselor, Melissa.

Since the divorce rate among PTSD households is much higher than the national average, I figure that some of you might also need the following info. I’m trying to convince Melissa to start contributing to FOV… but until then, my paraphrased versions of the tools and info she’s giving us will have to do. Sorry J.

For the last two sessions, we’ve been working on developing “active listening” skills. The communication level between my husband and I has really gone down since his last deployment. While I’ve been so focused on making sure I wasn’t saying things to trigger his PTSD, I’ve forgotten to tell him many other things. It’s just been easier to not talk. Dangerous, dangerous territory for a marriage to enter.

So, we’re rebuilding our communication skills… with new tools to help with PTSD and TBI. First step – active listening.

The process sounds a little drawn out, but it really does help. To make explaining this easier, I’m going to say the husband goes first and the wife second, but you can do it in either order. The basics are this…

#1 – You start with a leading question that both spouses will answer (“What is the heaviest thing on your mind lately?”).

#2 – The husband answers that question… giving details about why it’s on their mind so much, what their concerns are, etc. While he’s speaking the wife should look him in the eyes, not let her mind wander to other topics (“Did I finish that load of laundry?,” “When was his next appointment?”, etc.), and not interrupt J

#3 – When the husband has finished, the wife then repeats back to him what she heard him say (“So what I heard you say is…”)

#4 – Then the husband corrects or clarifies anything that the wife missed, etc.

#5 – Then the wife asks any questions or expresses opinions about what he said.

#6 - Finally, you repeat steps #2 - #5 with the wife going first.

Again, I know it sounds really long and like a lot of work… but, it REALLY helps. We’ve done it every few days since our last session and are finding out things about each other (what’s really bugging us) with the extra bonus of actually making headway. And, for the first time in almost two years, I feel like my hubby is really hearing me.

Still a little unsure?? Just try it! It can’t hurt J

1 comment:

  1. We have used "active" listening in our house for years and were educated in the skill shortly after DH developed PTSD and began receiving treatment. I highly recommend it as well to other families struggling with communication issues. :)