2. Paraphrase his words to show him you are
couples counseling technique is called “mirroring.” This listening skill helps
couples break out of argumentative ruts and truly hear what the other person is
saying in a conversation. Sometimes husbands are reluctant to share emotions. As a wife uses "mirroring" skills, she creates a safe place for her husband to open up and share what's really on his mind.
The pattern of "mirroring" goes like this:
2. Paraphrase back
3. Check for correct understanding
4. and then Share your own comment
each person follows the pattern of listening, repeating, and checking for
correctness before commenting, the conversation will not turn into a fight. This
skill helps each spouse focus on what the other person is saying, rather than
thinking about what to say as soon as the other person takes a breath. Here is an example:
Husband: Ah, I'm so glad it's the weekend. I can finally focus on the March Madness basketball games.
Wife: Sure . . . after we finish all our projects around the house. You can watch the game after you help me.
Husband: What? This weekend? But it's March Madness, can't the honey-do list wait a couple more weeks?
Wife: Okay, I can see we have different opinions here. Let's talk about this weekend using the mirroring skills we learned in counseling. I would love to finish our house projects. The garage is full of half-finished items.
Husband: So you're saying that you'd love to finish some projects since we have lots that are half-done. Is that right?
Wife: Yes, you heard me correctly.
Husband: Ok, well, March Madness is happening right now, and these are the most important games! I think the projects could wait a little longer. It bothers me when you plan my weekend for me. I'd like to have more say in my schedule at home.
Wife: So you want more freedom to determine your schedule at home, and it bothers you when I decide how your weekend will be spent. And these basketball games are the most important. Right?
Wife: Sorry babe. I know it's probably not fair of me to plan your schedule. I just get so excited for you to be home from work, and I plan what we can do together. Is there anything we could do in the garage this weekend? Maybe between games?
Husband: You're saying you're sorry, and that you just like having me home to spend time with me, and that maybe we could do something between a game? Did I hear you correctly?
Husband: Thanks, I know you are not trying to bug me on purpose. And I know the garage has tons of stuff to finish. There are two games tomorrow that I really want to watch, but I think they both are playing in the morning. Tomorrow afternoon I can work on house projects, but I'll want to listen to games on the radio. Does that work for you?
Wife: So you're saying if I leave you alone during the morning games, then you'll be ready to help me in the afternoon. Right?
Wife: Awesome! How about we work on the kids' bikes?
Husband: Cool. Let's go to the store today then. I'll need to pick up another inner tube for Bobby's bike.
Okay, sorry for the long example, but I wanted to show how a conversation can start and end with the "mirroring" technique. In my opinion, the most helpful feature of "mirroring" is that it encourages each person to listen rather than simply hear. We hear noise and words buzzing around us all day long, but we focus on what we want to listen to. In a conversation with our spouse, it is vital that we truly listen. In this example, each spouse showed they were listening to the other's words and not stuck in their own thoughts. Neither person became defensive about proving a point.
Then, by paraphrasing back correctly, each spouse showed respect and consideration. If the had husband paraphrased incorrectly, then the wife could have said so. (And vice-versa) Since we're only human, we do make mistakes. In "mirroring," you can simply apologize and ask your spouse to say their part again. Then you repeat it back again until you get the okay.
Also, notice how neither person attacked once it was his/her turn to talk. This is important. By working to solve the problem, rather than prove who is right and who is wrong, the conversation stayed calm. Each person had ample time to discuss their viewpoint, and no blame was cast. The couple worked together to solve the problem rather than fight about each other's flaws.
Listening and repeating are helpful. Choosing to speak kindly when it's your turn continues that trend.
Conversations rarely amplify into heated fights when "mirroring" is used.
Couples that use this technique are able to calmly communicate, whether the
conversation is simply to enjoy bonding together or to problem-solve a
disagreement. For more tips on problem solving communication, read here and here.