When was the last time you remember consciously putting down whatever it was you were doing and giving all your eyes and ears to your spouse?
Active listening is another term for focused attention.
This means that you are interested in what your spouse is feeling, not just in hearing some information. These two are entirely different things. You listen and consciously desire to understand and accept how your spouse feels. Never invalidate your spouse’s feelings and tell him or her that he or she should not be feeling a certain way. Perhaps you do not believe your spouse is being rational, that is beside the point. This is how your spouse feels and facts do not matter at all. To tell him or her that what she feels is not valid only promotes conflict and misunderstanding.
To practice active listening, try to send back the messages you hear from your spouse, very much like mirroring. This is one of the most effective counseling strategy that also proves effective in marriage. This manifests empathy and allows your spouse to see that you feel with her. Never try to evaluate and offer a lot of advise. Just be with your spouse and reflect the feelings back to him or her and see what happens.
Once this is done and you have established established your focused attention, you can then begin to ask questions to seek clarifications. Asking the right questions is especially important if you are married to a person who does not easily open himself or herself up. If ever you see yourself disagreeing with some of the statements, make sure that you focus on clarifying the valid points. Make sure you ask questions to gain understand and never to make judgments.