Listening Can Transform Relationships

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Dr. Susan Heitler Says Effective Listening Can Transform Relationships

Ashayla Blakely

Written by: Ashayla Blakely

Ashayla Blakely

Ashayla Blakely is an experienced storyteller who has fun writing authentic and relatable content for As a hopeless romantic, Ashayla has always enjoyed sharing good conversation and advice about dating. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Telecommunications from the University of Florida. She is currently enrolled in the graduate program at Florida State University's film school. You can often catch her with a script in her hand, calling out the shots in her many directorial roles on set.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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Listening is an absolute necessity when you want to have a committed relationship. It’s important to be heard and also listen well to your partner. Instead of hearing “you never listen to me” a billion times, couples can learn healthy ways to show that they’re attentive and care about what their partner has to say. 

Of course, it’s easier said than done. Sometimes couples forget how to properly listen when they’re in uncomfortable situations or they disagree with each other. That’s why it’s useful to reach out for professional help when you find yourself in a situation that feels like a dead end. 

Power of Two logo.
Power of Two was created in 2010 to save marriages and relationships from ending.

Dr. Susan Heitler is a clinical psychologist who has the knowledge and experience it takes to advise couples on how they can improve their relationships. For over 47 years, Dr. Susan, a graduate of Harvard University, has been saving relationships and marriages that have been in danger of divorce. 

In 2010, Dr. Susan and three of her adult children created the innovative and cost-efficient web-based marriage and relationship health program called the Power of Two to help couples reach their maximum potential. The Power of Two provides couples with fun and effective ways to learn key relationship skills online to help strengthen their relationship. 

“I started the program and found that I had a lot to learn about relationships! My overall review: TWO THUMBS UP!” said Jenny, a member of Power of Two in a review

Relationship Experts Know the Power of “Yes And”

Every relationship has its fair share of ups and downs. With collaborative communication and conflict-resolution skills, couples can turn these situations into win-win problem-solving. Communication in a relationship allows room for couples to voice how they feel and share their opinions on certain issues. Without open and honest communication, people in relationships end up suffering from misunderstandings and a lack of respect. 

Founder of Power of Two, Dr. Susan Heitler.
Founder of Power of Two, Dr. Susan Heitler is a relationship expert.

Dr. Susan provides couples with the tools to establish healthy communication techniques through an online version of marriage counseling. Dr. Susan told us that marriage is easier if couples have the necessary relationship skills.

For instance, Dr. Susan encourages couples to avoid using the word “but” when communicating with one another. As innocent as the three-letter word may appear, she explained that “but” can undercut, reject, or negate a partner’s words, feelings, and even their identity. Using the word “but” can become a bad habit, and Dr. Susan said overuse of “but” can make relationships brittle because it is the opposite of validating. Instead of butting into conversations, Dr. Susan recommends another strategy to affirm a partner and strengthen a relationship.

“It’s not enough to avoid using a bad habit. We have to replace it with a good habit. So there’s a marvelous combo of two three-letter words: “Yes and.” It affords us to laugh, adds playfulness, and it’s amazing.” said Dr. Susan.

Dr. Susan described using “yes and” as a constructive way to build conversation and reinforce a good relationship. And she warned against combining the affirmative “yes” with the negative “but.”

Saying “yes but,” in conversations erases the “yes” entirely. People tend to feel unheard when another person acknowledges yet discounts their viewpoint in the same sentence. By saying “Yes and,” couples show their partners that they listened to what was said and are adding to it

Dr. Susan said that the core of good listening is connecting with someone. So if couples struggle to listen to one another, it’s likely to cause a big issue in the relationship. The more connected a person is with someone, the more willing they are to be more attentive and considerate in conversations. 

“One of the fundamentals in a relationship is collaborative dialogue, which is dependent on listening with your good ear, listening for what makes sense or what you can utilize, and then adding your perspective instead of listening with the bad ear, that is, listening for what’s wrong in what you are hearing,” said Dr. Susan.

Learning How to Effectively Communicate & Love

According to a study done by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 67.5% of marriages in the U.S. end primarily because of communication problems. 

In her article, “Learn How To Communicate With Your Spouse,” Dr. Susan does her part in changing this statistic by helping couples understand their communication patterns. She points out in the article that most people develop their communication patterns from their childhood. 

It’s important to learn how to communicate properly. Dr. Susan prescribes to her clients strategic tactics to live healthier and happier lives. 

Power of Two workbook
The workbook provides practice lessons.

A key component to a healthy and happy relationship is self-love. When people face depression and anxiety in their personal lives, it manifests in their relationships.

To love and receive love, it helps to first self-evaluate and address personal issues. Just as you go to the doctor when you’re feeling sick, it’s helpful to look to professionals when in doubt about how to become a better you.  

Dr. Susan said she helps her clients by trying to get to the root of why they may feel sad, mad, or worried. She then teaches self-help techniques that relieve negative emotions and secure a sustainable and healthy happiness. 

Many clients thank Dr. Susan for teaching them how to identify personal blockers and bad habits so they can create the relationship they always wanted. According to Dr. Susan, good relationship skills can be learned and practiced by anyone, so the fundamentals to a long-lasting marriage are always within reach.

“We learned how much anger can hurt a relationship and how destructive it can be. Power of Two helped us create an exit and reconnecting strategy. This is something we needed to do,” shared Andy, a Power of Two client in a testimonial

The Power of Two Can Help Partners Reconnect

Dr. Susan is a firm believer in the motto, practice what you preach. Dr. Susan and her husband, who have been in a happy marriage for over 50 years, are a true testament that a long-lasting relationship is possible. Drawing from her personal experience and thorough research, Dr. Susan wrote the book “The Power of Two” to give couples the necessary skills they need to have a marriage that will last through thick and thin. 

“Couples and individuals who want to have a strong relationship need to learn these skills. ’The Power of Two’ clarifies the core skills that you need to be able to keep talking together even about difficult topics in a cooperative, productive way,” said Dr. Susan. 

Screenshot of Power of Two mission statement.
Power of Two stands firm in its mission to help make the world a better and healthier place.

The Power of Two has helped many couples on their marriage journey. Regardless of where they are in their relationship, the book explains the communication and conflict-resolution habits that enable couples to solve their differences in a win-win way. Dr. Susan said that couples can use this book to learn how to reconnect, resolve conflicts, recover after upsets, and convert difficulties into opportunities to grow. 

“This book is great for relationships that have had a breakdown in communication. Not only between a husband and wife but even between a parent and teenager. This book is a great resource full of tools to help have productive communication with anyone,” an anonymous user said in a review

Dr. Susan told us that her mission in life is to make the world a better place by improving interpersonal relationships. Couples that want to rekindle their love and want to live a better and happier lifestyle can learn so much from Dr. Susan and the Power of Two. Taking the time to learn how to cooperatively communicate can lead to a major leap forward. 

“Susan Heitler’s effect on my life was profound and permanent… She just really helped me put my life back together,” said Harry Smith, The Early Show Co-anchor on CBS, in a testimonial.