The receiver’s role

  • When your partner pauses, or perhaps when you have asked them to pause, you will repeat back everything you heard them say.  You may paraphrase, but you will mirror without analyzing, critiquing, modifying or responding.
  • You might also summarize all that you heard.

In the beginning, as you are learning to mirror, if you find yourself sometimes repeating word for word exactly what your partner said, make sure you fully understand the message and are not simply playing parrot.

To paraphrase is to state in your own words what the message your spouse sent means to you – how you understand the words and feelings (and non verbal cues).

  • This indicates to your spouse that you have heard and understand what s/he has said. When you are mirroring your partner,  the sending and paraphrasing of the message are repeated until your partner affirms that you have clearly understood the message that was sent.

    Any response made before actually arriving at an accurate understanding of the meaning of your partner’s message is actually not a response to your partner at all; it is a response to your own interpretation of your partner’s message. Until a message is clearly received,  you are responding to yourself not to your partner.


  • “What I heard you say is ….”
  • “If I got it …”
  • “If I heard you accurately …”
  • “Let me see if I got it all.”

Check it Out

  • “Did I get you?”
  • “Did I get it?”
  • “Did I understand it as you meant it?”

Ask for more

  • “Is there more?”
    Repeat until your partner says there is no more.
  • It is important to stick to the specific point of the dialog. If you find your partner starting to discuss a different topic, respectfully ask how point A is related to point B.  Help him/her make the connection, then continue responding to point A. Do not let the conversation get sidetracked. “Please help me understand how [this detail] is related to what you mentioned earlier.” “I want to understand the main issue here. Let us put this other aspect aside for now, so we aren’t distracted from your main point.” (Tone matters!)
  • Keep the issue specific. Do not let the conversation move to generalizations or bringing up the past or  similar incidents. “Let’s keep this focused on this particular incident and how it made you feel. We can go to those incidents at a later point.” (Tone matters!)
  • If the issue is presented in a complex manner, you might ask: “Can you say that in fewer words?”

Validation indicates that you can see the information from the other person’s point of view and accept that it has validity, ie. that it is true for them.

  • You don’t have to agree with what was said. Validation is a temporary suspension or transcendence of your point of view and allows your partner’s experience to have its own reality.
  • In any communication between two persons, there are always two points of view, and every report of any experience is an interpretation that is the truth for each person.

    Validation conveys to your partner that his/ her subjective experience is not crazy, that it has its own logic, and that it is a valid way of looking at things. 

  • Once the Sender says there is “no more”, you attempt to validate what they have said by letting them know what they have been saying is making logical sense to you.  
  • If it does not (yet) make sense to you, you simply share what does make sense, then ask them to say more about the parts that do not yet make sense.


  • “You make sense to me because …”
  • “It makes sense to me, given that you …”
  • “I can see what you are saying …”

Check it Out

  • “Does it feel like I am getting you?”

If it doesn’t make sense to you (yet)

  • “Help me understand that. Can you say more about …?

Empathy is the process of reflecting or imagining the feelings ascending partner is experiencing about the event or the situation being reported.

This deep level of communication attempts to recognize, reach into, and on some level experience the emotions of the sending partner. Empathy allows both partners to transcend, for a moment, their separateness and to experience a genuine meeting.

  • You take a guess as to what they imagine they might be feeling with regard to what they have been saying.  If they have already said how they feel, then you can simply reflect this back once more.
  • If, however, you can think of an additional way  they  might be feeling, this is where you can add that.


  • “I can imagine you might be feeling …”
  • “I imagine that you felt…”
    Use the feeling prompters to guess how your partner might be feeling.

Check it Out

  • “Is that what you are feeling?”
  • “Did I get your feeling right?”
  • “Are there better words to describe how you are feeling?”
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