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Listening Is More Important Than Ever

May 20, 2020  | 

{3 minutes to read} As a divorce mediator, it’s not surprising that I work with many couples who experience a lack of communication. Since that lack of communication is now being coupled with spending an inordinate amount of time with your spouse during the pandemic, you may consider this an opportunity to improve your communication.

In Listening During a Pandemic, Kate Murphy writes that while a pandemic has the likelihood of causing an increase in divorce, it can also bring a couple together.

Ms. Murphy writes that given the stress of the times, and possibly the stress of an unhappy relationship, the failure to listen only serves to aggravate the negativity at a time when you need the other party the most. Instead, she suggests:

  • Listening to the other person can not only help you understand them but also to recognize when you may need to give them some space. 
  • Asking questions about what or why the other likes something shows that you are interested in what they have to say, and answers lead to more questions, which lead to more answers and understanding.
  • Pose a hypothetical question like “If you could time travel, where would you go?” These questions can stir the imagination and open a window into someone’s thoughts in ways you may have never considered.
  • Since this is more of a listening than a speaking event, try to refrain from making the conversation about you or giving advice. Keep in mind that most people just want to be heard, understood, and accepted, especially when there are no answers to their concerns or issues.

I often write about the need to be heard and understood in the context of a divorcing couple and work in mediation to ensure that each party listens to the other in our meetings. It can be painfully apparent that a couple has long ceased listening to one another, and possibly, even talking to each other about something besides the mechanics of sharing a household or children. What begins with a lack of communication can lead to either conflict or just retreating even further into yourselves.

If you find yourself in this situation, and you’re both willing to do so, you can try some active listening skills as those proposed by Ms. Murphy. If you feel you need more, you can seek couples counseling which can be done online.

Even if you ultimately decide to separate, learning communication skills will help in reaching terms of a settlement as well as parenting after you separate. 

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

Attorney & Mediator
500 Mamaroneck Avenue | Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
Tel: 914.946.0848

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