Strengthening marriages requires listening skills. Try these strategies to be a better listener:
- Be fully present when speaking and listening to your partner. Many people listen with the intent to reply instead of understanding. Ask questions related to what is being discussed to show active listening.
- Tune out distractions. Find a quiet place to communicate. Silence phones and turn off the TV. If there are children present, try to settle them in another room.
- Wait until your partner is done speaking and summarize what was heard. Then share what you want to say.
- Pay attention to nonverbal cues. Sitting across from each other and making eye contact communicates attention. Unfolding arms shows you are open to listening. Nodding shows agreement or understanding and can also indicate you are actively listening.
There are several Marine Corps Community Services that can help strengthen your marriage.
- The Family Advocacy Program (FAP) offers “Married and Loving It,” which teaches the fundamentals of relationships such as improving communication, how to handle conflict, anger management, and how to make decisions about finances. “Within Our Reach for Couples” is a workshop that reviews thoughts and behaviors associated with successful relationships. Activities emphasize commitment, expectations, and relationship needs such as friendship, fun, and connection.
- The Community Counseling Program offers couples counseling.
- The Chaplains offer Chaplains Religious Enrichment Development Operation (CREDO) workshops which provide couples time to get away from it all and work on building healthy communication skills.
- Marine Corps Family Team Building offers workshops and classes for Marines and families at the unit and installation level.
Please visit your local installation’s MCCS webpage to find contact information for additional local resources.