The couples’ dialogue is the secret to a lasting relationship with your lover. In the same way Yoga helps you find a deeper connection to your inner self, the couples’ dialogue helps you find a deeper connection to your lover.
The key to the dialogue is to listen and really take in your lover’s point of view, without having to agree with it.
First decide who will be the sender and who will be the receiver. The sender talks for a few minutes, sending the message he or she wants the receiver to take in, but never blaming the receiver. For example:
- I get frustrated when you blank out on me whenever I try to talk to you about something serious.
- I felt hurt when I tried to express my opinion and you cut me off, even though I know you didn’t mean it.
- I’ll never expect you to have a love affair with my parents but I need you to try harder with them because I’ll feel reassured about us.
When the sender has completed a message, the receiver mirrors or summarizes what the sender has said. For example:
- What I hear you saying is that I don’t really listen to you.
- What you’re telling me is I should be patient and give you more time to speak.
- Am I getting it? Is there more you want to tell me?
Then the receiver validates the sender’s message. For example:
- I’m starting to see how anxious you get when I don’t really listen.
- I’m beginning to realize you need more time to find words to say what you’re really feeling.
- I can see now how scared you get when I don’t try harder with your parents.
It’s important to understand that validating in the couples’ dialogue has nothing to do with agreeing with your lover. You can validate him or her while still disagreeing and keeping your own point of view.
Next the receiver empathizes with the sender. This is the moment of golden opportunity, when the receiver can make the sender feel that he or she is deeply, emotionally understood. For example:
- I can imagine what you must have felt like when I cut you off like that.
- It must be horrible for you emotionally when I clash with your mother.
- I’m beginning to feel now what it’s like to be in your shoes when I do things that upset you.
After the receiver has gone through all three stages – mirrored, validated and empathized with the sender – they switch roles.
The receiver now becomes the sender and can respond to the sender’s earlier thoughts and feelings or express entirely new ones.
The Couples Dialog is by far the most powerful way of deepening your understanding of what you need from your lover and what your lover needs from you.