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Use eyes, ears and heart to truly listen to partner

  • Myrna Mazzola Zezza is a longtime relationship and personal growth counselor who teaches relationship skills workshops with her husband, Bill Chung. Her new book “How to Build a Lasting, Loving Relationship” (Two Harbors Press, $14.36) is available at and

A wedding is a joyful celebration of a loving relationship that already exists. To ensure the relationship continues to evolve and thrive, it’s important for newlyweds to learn some relationship-building skills.

One of the most common complaints I hear in marriage counseling is that the other partner just doesn’t really listen. How often do you feel that someone is really listening to you with their full attention? Not often, right? How often do you really listen to others with your full attention? Same answer?

Here’s why: Listening begins the moment we are born. Without listening, it would be very difficult to learn how to speak. Later in our childhood, we learn how to speak, read and write. Unfortunately, we spend little time learning how to listen.

When you truly listen, what your listening says is, "I am here and what you have to say is important and valuable to me." By acknowledging the person’s value, you validate that person, which helps strengthen the relationship. So it’s very important to develop good listening skills.

Here’s how I define active listening: being in present time without distractions, making eye contact, indicating in some manner that you have heard what was said, and asking questions if you’re not clear. If in doubt, repeat in your own words what was said to be sure you understand.

All of us want to be heard and understood. We are not always seeking resolution in our conversations. Many times, we just want someone to hear and understand how we think and/or feel about something that’s happened that can’t be changed. If you listen only with your ears, you can miss those subtle differences. So when you listen actively, you also listen with your eyes to body language.

Last, and most important, you listen with your heart to hear what is and isn’t being said. How do you listen with your heart? If you have silenced the chatter in your mind, are listening actively with ears and eyes, and have the intention to hear what is and isn’t being said, you are listening with your heart.

Taking time to listen to your partner, with the intention to hear what is and is not being said, is one of the nicest gifts you can bestow upon your partner and your marriage.

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