Many couples find it hard to take the time to talk to one another. Here’s how you can really listen to your partner and talk about the things that are on your mind.
Preparation: Toss a coin to see who speaks first and agree who'll keep time. Make sure you're not going to be disturbed. Agree what the two of you will do to relax after your hour is up. Each partner gets 30 minutes to talk, while the other partner gives their undivided attention. After the hour is up, it’s essential that you both walk away and do something else — don’t analyse the conversation. In fact, agree not to talk about it for at least 48 hours.
If talking for a whole hour is difficult because of other time pressures or feels too long for a first time, you may cut it to 20 minutes.
If you find the exercise useful, set a regular date to do it, taking it in turns to talk first. Rules for the talker You have to take your full 30 minutes even if you run out of things to say. Any silences will give you a chance to reflect on what you've said and perhaps move on to deeper thoughts.
Talk about whatever's on your mind — but don’t turn it into a whingeing session.
Try to talk only about your feelings and opinions by starting sentences with ‘I’. If you're the second person to speak, try not to respond to what your partner just said. You must talk about yourself.
Rules for the listener: Try to listen with your whole self by giving your partner 100 per cent of your attention.
Show that you're listening with your body language: maintain eye contact, nod and don't cross your arms. You can ask for clarification if you don't understand something, but not if you disagree. Don't share your opinions.
It may be hard to keep quiet for that long, but it's important to do so.