web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Mirroring Your Spouse’s Feelings

Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

Share Button

Mirroring is a good way to start actively listening. To mirror, you simply paraphrase or repeat back to your spouse what he or she is saying to you. For example, if one day he/she comes home and says to you: “I had a horrible day at work!” you reflect on those words by saying, “It sounds you had a terrible day at work.” Don’t try to editorialize or deny what is being said. Instead, allow your spouse to fully express his or her feelings, and encourage more communication by paraphrasing what was just said to you. Or, if your spouse had a hard day at school and was driven crazy by his or her students, show you know what he or she is going through by saying, “It sounds like your kids drove you crazy today.” Most of the time, validating feelings is really what your spouse needs from you.

Think about the last time you were frustrated and you tried to share your feelings with your parents or friends. What kind of response was more soothing? If they dismissed your feelings and said, “Oh, don’t worry about it. Tomorrow will be better?” or if they gently mirrored your words back to you and said, “It sounds like you had a hard day,” or, “That sounds rough. Can you tell us more about your feelings?” Most people appreciate having their feelings validated and knowing that someone is willing to listen to their pain or frustration.

The difference between the two styles is quite distinct, as the following two dialogues reveal.

In the first conversation, Rivkah doesn’t utilize the principles of active listening.

Chaim: I’m furious! I had a lousy day at work!

Rivkah: What? Were you late for work again?

Chaim: What are you talking about?

Rivkah: I told you last night to go to bed earlier and leave on time.

Chaim: That has nothing to do with it. It’s my boss. He’s out of his mind again. He is nervous about our deadline and feels that our department isn’t keeping up.

Rivkah: Well, I keep on telling you that you guys have to keep ahead or else.

Chaim: Give me a break! We are working as hard as possible!

Rivkah: I guess it’s not enough.

Chaim: How much can I possibly do?!

In the following conversation, Rivkah has learned the skills needed to be a good active listener, and she mirrors her husband’s feelings.

Chaim: I’m furious! I had a lousy day at work!

Rivkah: You had a lousy day.

Chaim: My boss was impossible! He has such a temper!

Rivkah: He was angry today?

Chaim: He couldn’t stop ranting and raving about performance.

Rivkah: Hmm. He’s worried about your performance.

Chaim: Give me a break! We are working as hard as possible!

Rivkah: You feel you are working as hard as possible. I’m sure you are trying your best.

Chaim: Of course we are. We are getting glitches all along the way from distributors.

Rivkah: You are frustrated with your distributors.

Chaim: Of course. I can’t control what they do. But my boss doesn’t care about reality.

Rivkah: You can’t control them or your boss either.

Chaim: That’s right. I feel so out of control.

Rivkah: That must be frightening and downright frustrating.

Chaim: I’m feeling out of control and I’m really scared about the future.

Through active listening, Rivkah was able to avoid pouring gasoline on an already explosive issue. Her husband was feeling overwhelmed with work stress, and it wasn’t only with his boss, but with the distributors as well. Instead of criticizing or dismissing her husband’s behavior and feelings, she aimed to listen to his inner message and uncover his more vulnerable emotions of fear and frustration. Practicing this kind of communication helps build a caring relationship — one that will enable more positive interactions and dialogue in other key areas of life.

Share Button

About the Author: Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, Marriage and Family Therapy, is an expert in marriage counseling, pre-marital education, and helping teens in crisis with offices in Flatbush, Cedarhurst, and Crown Heights. He is a certified PAIRS instructor, and trained as a Level 1, Emotionally Focused Therapist at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, and is a member of AASECT. He is the author of At Risk – Never Beyond Reach and First Aid For Jewish Marriages. To watch his free videos on marriage and parenting and for appointments visit: www.JewishMarriageSupport.com or call 646-428-4723


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

2 Responses to “Mirroring Your Spouse’s Feelings”

  1. What's fundamental in communication is not what's said, it's what the supposition is behind what's said. Validating the feeling says "what you feel is right"; trying to "fix" the partner says "what you are feeling isn't right".

  2. Amanda Howe says:

    Carl Rogers was the master of this technique …it's very hard to break the lifetime habit of being a helper or fixer

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Abbas and Hanieyh on poster, next to a picture of Arafat.
Kerry’s Talks Achieve Peace Between Hamas and Fatah
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.

Marriage-Relationship-logo

We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.

Gorsky-041814-Torah

Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.

Baim-041814-Piggy

Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Dear Dr. Yael:

My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.

More Articles from Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch
Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

Separation anxiety disorder is a condition in which a child becomes fearful and nervous when away from home or separated from a loved one – usually a parent or other caregiver – to whom the child is attached.

Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

I try to focus on the parents in a way that is not often addressed. As soon as the child gets anxious, the parent gets anxious;

Most people are not aware that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).

Parental conflict affects children in varying ways, depending on their age. For example, teenagers around the age of fifteen or sixteen are most likely to involve themselves in their parents’ battles. Younger children may keep their feelings hidden inside and may only show signs of depression in late childhood or early adolescence.

When parents come to talk to me about a troubled child or teenager, I often find it helpful to explore whether or not their marriage is causing their teenager to be at risk.

Active listening is only one part of the marriage equation; learning what to say and what not to say is the other half. And, it’s not just about expressing your feelings, but doing it in a way that avoids hurting the other person.

Control may be the most destructive force influencing a marriage. Let me illustrate this point with the following story. About two years ago a woman named Bracha, 47, came to speak to me about her husband’s controlling behavior. This is how she described her precarious situation:

Controlling behavior may be the number one reason that your marriage needs first aid.

If you are unfamiliar with the topic of control, it’s no surprise. Most people are unaware that control is a major issue for counselors, therapists and psychologists-at-large.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/mirroring-your-spouses-feelings/2013/02/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: