#17 Accompanying The Abandoned

_SLC 17 Accompanying the Abandoned Spouse WP

When a marriage breaks down, it’s rarely by mutual agreement. More commonly, one spouse wants to leave and the other wants to rebuild. For the abandoned spouse, it is bewildering, traumatic and distressing. Yet the situation is complicated – both spouses are in pain. How can we, as a community and as individuals accompany the abandoned spouse


Matthew MacDonald is a counsellor and psychotherapist based in Melbourne. He previously served as the Director for Marriage and Family in the Archdiocese of Melbourne for many years. He is married to Julie and is father of six children. He and his wife Julie have been active in marriage ministry for decades, including as SL mentors and now as a SL Coach. Find Matthew at Masterpeace Counselling

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The Take Home

Reflective Listening

A communication strategy, that is more specific than the more general methods of active listening and involves two key movements:

  1. Seeking to understand a Speaker’s idea, then
  2. ‘Reflecting’ the idea back to the Speaker, to confirm the idea has been understood correctly.

Steps for Reflective Listening

  • Step 1: Listen to the Speaker’s message. Focus solely on listening to what the other person has to say.
  • Step 2: Analyse the meaning of the message to determine what the Speaker meant to transmit.
  • Step 3: Reflect the message back to confirm that your interpretation is what the Speaker intended to transmit.
  • Step 4: Confirm that you understood the message by inviting the Speaker to confirm, correct or clarify the message.
  • Step 5: Invite the Speaker to say more, or to go deeper into self-disclosure of their interior life


Bless you!

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Francine & Byron Pirola

Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children. Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links. For Media Enquiries Please Contact us here

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