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Valentine’s Day Gift: The Listening Door

Updated January 25, 2022

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

by William Butler Yeats

Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet,

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

The Listening Door and Dreams

For Valentine’s Day, give each other the gift of deep listening using my Listening Door exercise.

Deep listening is a way to stay connected in your intimate relationship. Deep listening builds up your emotional connection and creates an atmosphere in your relationship of the feeling of being deeply understood.

Deep listening is healing and increases intimacy. It’s a way to shift from being “alone in this” to “together in this.”

William Butler Yeats’ love poem is lyrical and imagistic, speaking to us of love, hope and dreams. In my office, I ask couples to begin the Listening Door exercise by reading the above poem to each other. If they’re feeling too shy to do so, I’ll start off the session with the poem.

Yeats’ words are relevant to developing a feelings of intimacy as isn’t that much of what couples are doing together?

Building their dreams and hopes together?

Hoping our partner will be gentle and kind to our dreams?

In the Listening Door exercise, we seek to understand, not to always be understood. (Of course there needs to be a balance in the relationship here.)

The Listening Door exercise is a great way to develop listening skills.

The Listening Door

“Tread softly for you tread on my dreams”

The Listening Door is:
  • a beautiful exercise in positive communication.

  • is NOT a discussion to problem solve, it is a discussion to open your hearts to each other.

  • intention is to deepen intimacy and deepen emotional understanding

The Listening Door is simple to do:

Choose a topic that you need or your partner want to share your feelings about. Stick to this topic.

Assume these roles:

  • One person Opens the Door, slowly, at their own pace, telling their own story, talking about him or herself.

  • The other person Listens at the Door, listening politely at the door, does not barge in, does not interrupt, but waits to be invited in

The person who Opens the Door:
  • Reads the Yeats poem first. Especially the part about “Tread softly for you tread on my dreams.”

  • Discusses the topic, talks about himself, using “I” statements, without blaming the partner or anyone else, allowing the softer emotions and hopes and dreams to emerge from beneath the harder emotions of anger and distrust

The person who Listens at the Door, helps his or her partner to:

Keep the Door Open by:
  • NOT trying to solve the problem

  • engaging in polite listening

  • seeking to understand, not be understood

  • NOT getting defensive, this makes it about him or her self

  • ALLOWING the person to talk without interrupting

  • TAKES in the meaning without taking things personally

ASKS NON-INFLAMMATORY, open ended, deepening questions, such as:

  • How do you feel about this?

  • What does this mean to you?

  • Is there anything else?

Remember you are treading on your partner’s dreams. Speak and act with care. I close with good wishes for you and your loved ones.

If you are needing some individual help, please contact a qualified therapist.

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