By Chandrama Anderson
E-mail Chandrama Anderson
About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ... (More)
About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background in high-tech is helpful in understanding local couples' dynamics and the pressures of living here. I am a wife, mom, sister, friend, author, and lifelong advocate for causes I believe in (such as marriage equality). My parents are both deceased. My son graduated culinary school and is heading toward a degree in Sociology. I enjoy reading, hiking, water fitness, movies, 49ers and Stanford football, Giants baseball, and riding a tandem bike with my husband. I love the beach and mountains; nature is my place of restoration. In my work with couples, and in this blog, I combine knowledge from many fields to bring you my best ideas, tips, tools and skills, plus book and movie reviews, and musings to help you be your genuine self, find your own voice, and have a happy and healthy relationship. Don't be surprised to hear about brain research and business skills, self-soothing techniques from all walks of life, suggestions and experiments, and anything that lights my passion for couples. (Author and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Calif. Lic # MFC 45204.) (Hide)
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You just want to be heard and understood deeply. Showing interest in your partner and his or her life leads to a great many wonderful things in a relationship. Below is a list of open-ended phrases for you to experiment with as you talk and listen to your partner (remember listening is not waiting for your turn to talk, make a point, be right, or fix it).
Keep in mind the washer tool: imagine there is a string attached to each of your mouths with a metal washer on it. As you talk, it pushes the washer toward the other's mouth. The goal is to generally have the washer in the middle. So check in and ask your partner questions as you're talking.
Here's the list:
Tell me more . . .
Say more about that . . .
What does that mean to you?
How are you feeling?
What are you feeling in your body?
I’m curious about . . .
What is most important in what you’re telling me?
What do you know in yourself about that?
[Repeat back a word or two You’re feeling (sad, anxious, confused) . . . ?
What does your expression/body posture mean [maybe describe what you see?
Can you go deeper with that . . .
How does that play out between us?
How does that show up in our relationship?
That must be [hard, sad, etc. . . .
I’m trying to get a felt-sense of that, can you describe it more . . .
Notice how you each feel as you begin to ask open ended questions. Be patient with yourselves, and keep trying.