Do you understand how to listen to your mate attentively, compassionately and effectively?
Family Counseling Ministries -
Someone has noted wisely that since God created us with
two ears and one mouth, we should probably listen twice as much as we speak.
One of the most important marital communication skills a husband or wife can
possess is the ability to listen intently.
A person generally hears approximately twenty percent of what
is said. For this reason marriage partners must be willing to learn the skill
of attentive, effective listening.
An effective listener listens with a focused mind. When
your spouse is speaking do you think about what you plan to say when he or she
stops talking? Most people enjoy hearing themselves talk. They feel more
comfortable when asserting their opinions and stating their case. In the midst
of marital conflict, husbands and wives often wait until their spouse takes a
breath to jump in with a counter-attack. Biblical listening, however, involves
much more than waiting courteously until ones mate finishes speaking.
Loving listeners seek to hear not only the words their
spouse is speaking, but also to understand what their partner really means.
They take an active role in helping their mate express the true feelings of his
or her heart. If, for example, they are puzzled by a particular statement their
spouse has made, they ask for further clarification, believing that it would be
uncaring to simply let it go.
Some marriage partners are adept at saying exactly what
they mean. Their spouse, by comparison, may feel inadequate to articulate his
or her deepest feelings. The goal of an effective listener is not to win a
verbal spar, but to facilitate communication.
Good listeners maintain an objective mind. They dont
decide ahead of time what conclusions they will reach as the discussion draws
to a close. They are open to hearing all the facts and they have a teachable
spirit. The writer of James 1:5 promises us,
If any man lacks wisdom let him ask of God and it will be
given to him liberally and without reproach.
Husbands and wives should remember that they do not have
all the answers. God is ready and able to grant light to any marriage partner
who is willing to obediently walk in that light.
Listening attentively involves patience. Good listeners
never end a discussion abruptly when they decide that enough time has been
spent on an issue. They dont hurry their spouse along. Instead, they encourage
their mate to continue until they are both satisfied that they have dealt
sufficiently with the matter. They invite their spouse to feel free to bring
the subject up again, should he or she feel at some point in the future, that
the problem has not been fully resolved.
An effective listener demonstrates a willingness to change
once marriage partners have thoroughly addressed a problem and reached a
solution. They do not insist on being right. Although they may be painfully
aware of many areas they would like to change in their spouse, they understand
that their job is to change themselves.
When marital conflict occurs, husbands and wives would do
well to recall their marriage vow to love one another for better or for worse.
It is pointless for a husband or wife to question whether or not he or she
married the right person after the marriage vows have been spoken. They must
redirect their focus to the goal of being the right person. When
marriage partners stop criticizing and critiquing each other, they can learn to
love and accept one another unconditionally.