Using Deep Listening To Transform Your Relationship Conflict Into Connection
Updated: Feb 8
Relationship conflict is something everyone in a relationship deals with at one point or another. Some couples may deal with it by completely avoiding it, but all couples are dealing with it nonetheless. There are so many factors at play that can make conflict tricky. While a therapist or relationship coach can help you and your partner explore all of the different dynamics and significant factors at play, something you can start practicing today is deep listening.
There is a big difference between someone hearing the words you are saying while staying tuned in to their own thoughts and feelings about those words and someone who is so attuned to what you are saying that you can feel that what you are saying is what matters. Experiences of being truly heard in that way is a human need and a central strengthener in relationships, yet it is going overlooked in many romantic relationships, especially for couples in conflict.
While being heard is a primary need during relationship conflict, deep listening is sometimes the first thing to go when tension arises or perhaps it was never established in the first place. Remembering that mutual deep listening is needed during a conflict can de-escalate conflicts or prevent them from escalating in the first place.
One of the things that can be a barrier or challenge to someone providing deep listening for their partner is feeling emotionally and physiologically flooded themselves. Once you are overwhelmed with your own emotions, tuning into another’s is immensely challenging. Besides doing the work to ensure your own emotional regulation, another way to practice is to use deep listening with one another when you are not in a conflict. Here, you can learn to use deep listening with one another so that it feels more familiar when the going gets tough.
Once mutual deep listening is accessed and carried out, a change in perspective can occur. You might go from feeling like relationship conflict is a crisis to actually feeling more connected to your partner after your conflict than you did before it. There is something deeply assuring for couples when you are able to deeply disagree, voice your perspectives, and still remain emotionally attuned to one another. This skill allows couples to no longer avoid differences for fear of conflict and to no longer experience disconnect when there is one. With deep listening, both authenticity and connection thrive.
Krissy Mulpeter is a Couples and Individual Therapist in Eugene, Oregon. Read more about her here.