How Good Are You at Listening to Your Spouse? (Part I)
By Janel Breitenstein
Anyone else feel like listening is a dying art form?
We carry our lives tucked deep within us. We long for somebody (anybody!) to simply have the occasion to ask for and absorb what’s on our minds, what makes up our lives.
But communication in our world happens at the speed of light. We feel more “connected” after a 140-character tweet. Few of us possess the time or the training to receive the stories of those around us.
Unfortunately, this means people are withering around us―even in our own homes. Even in our own marriages.
This art form takes practice. Time. The ability to love someone like we love ourselves.
So we’ve created a brief inventory to help you uncover strengths and weaknesses of your personal listening style.
Answering honestly, ask yourself if each statement below is a strength, weakness, or neither. Then, select one or two weaknesses from this inventory (and a couple from tomorrow’s) you’d like to improve.
- People come away from talking to you possessing a better understanding of themselves.
- You wait a few seconds after your spouse has stopped talking to see if they have more to say.
- You practice “reflective listening,” using words like, “So I hear you saying that you’re …”
- You’re comfortable with abstaining from advice at times, to simply be with someone in their grief.
- You ask questions that cause your spouse to explore what he or she hasn’t before.
- Your spouse frequently responds to you, “That’s a good question”―but it’s okay with you if you’re not the person with all the good questions.
- You refrain from interrupting.
- You’re comfortable with not having an answer for some of life’s unfixables.
- You use facial expressions that are receptive: soft eyes, nodding, eye contact.
- You pray silently for your husband or wife while listening, and ask God for wisdom in responding.
The good stuff: A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion ... If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. (Proverbs 18:2,13)
Action points: Got your points for change? Write them down. Because speech overflows from our hearts (Matthew 12:34), pray God will reveal the heart issues beneath your listening issues. Bonus: Have your spouse take this inventory evaluating you as a listener.
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