For a few months, my girlfriend and I were separated by several states. When we were finally together in the same state again, a lot had occurred between us during that time apart that made situations tense at times. In an attempt to improve this, I proposed we try that “talking” thing people were raving about, but in a different fashion from the usual conversation. I wanted to try a “Re-evaluation co-counseling” style discussion. I honestly believe that this did wonders for our relationship.
Simply put, Co-counseling consists of two people taking turns listening to one another. Yes, it’s a conversation in some ways, but a little different. It is about listening and paying very careful attention to what you hear. You listen to the other person without interrupting to offer suggestions or comments, only listening.
The procedure is rather simple. Two people, in this case you and your partner, agree that you will take turns listening to one another without interruption for an agreed upon time. One person talks first and each person talks for an equal amount of time. The person who talks can talk about whatever he or she wants to talk about. The listener listens wholeheartedly without interrupting to offer suggestions, comments, advice, or how he or she is feeling. After the agreed upon time, the roles switch. That’s it.
I was taking a class in Co-counseling and wanted to see how it could help my relationship. At first things were a little difficult, as we had many issues to talk about, but what this format allowed was to have each of us fully express what was on our minds without worrying about finding “the right time” for discussion, being interrupted, or not getting a chance to fully say what we meant. As time went by and our issues were resolved, this process became a nightly routine- a check-in. Even if we didn’t have a problem, it provided a space to talk about how our days went or anything else that was on our minds. And if a problem was beginning to rise, this gave us the opportunity to address it before it even became an issue.
I cannot stress just how wonderful of a tool this is for relationships. It provides a space for discussion, eliminates most problems before they arise, and just makes each person feel so much better!
a) Make a nightly or twice a week routine to sit with your partner to talk
b) Choose a period of time for each person. I like 10-15 minutes each
c) Choose one person to start. Let that person talk without interruption
d) Switch roles