Updated: Dec 28, 2020
The part of communication that we need to focus more on isn't the verbal, its the nonverbal: listening.
Communication is not only the ability to express feelings and inner thoughts, but it's also the ability to take in the information we hear to make decisions, adjustments, or to increase knowledge and understanding. In order to communicate effectively you must be present and have concern for what is being stated (without interrupting).
Have you ever told your spouse or defended your self with "I am listening!", but you know dag on well, you didn’t hear the last few words they said?
Yes, its happened to the best of us. Its called half listening and if not careful you can become a skillful half-listener.
Listening well requires your attention.
I read something a long time ago that said multitasking really isn't a skill and it is extremely unproductive.
When you are occupied and not giving your spouse your eyes and ears, you are signaling to them that whatever is coming out of their mouth at the moment is insignificant. That is the exact opposite of what we want to do.
When I know Joseph is listening to me, he can repeat back what I've said and add his commentary (i.e. active listening) and when he can't that's a clear sign he is not listening. Phones, social media, life, kids, work or even your mind can all be distractions when your spouse is talking so sometimes physically or mentally backing away from whatever has your attention can be the trick.
Lately, I've been telling myself "its ok, it will be here when he is done" in order to give Joseph my full attention because I am aware of how unfocused I can be as a mom and marriedprenuer.
Listening well doesn’t mean you do everything and anything your spouse wants you to do at their command. This isn't a commander-enlisted solider relationship, however you want to show that you value their preferences, interests and opinions. Even if you think you know what these are already, take it from me, double check with your spouse and take notes when your spouse lets you know otherwise. For example, if your spouse prefers cookie dough ice cream over cookies and cream, go with that. If they prefer a certain cuisine, go with that. Non materialistic things matter too. If your spouse is giving you feedback on what YOU do, be mature and find ways to acknowledge and make proper adjustments. Now of course some of these things will require compromise, but most importantly when it comes to something for them individually, your goal is to meet that specific request.
What I found in my marriage is that Joseph was so confident in what he thought I wanted, liked or needed, that he was missing the mark. And on top of that, his "good intentions" was the source of me feeling unheard and frustrated. You see how this can quickly turn ugly and create some heartburn? It took some unlearning and courageous heart to heart conversations to change this, but it was all worth it. A major turning point was due to the openness and transparency of these conversations and having the mindset to attack the issue and not the person.
Each day is a new day to get it right. Learn better so you can do better.
Do your part by tuning in to your spouse and listening to their heart well today! Take the time to put away any and every distraction and accept and value your spouses ideas and preferences. Most importantly, when you find yourself not exercising good listening skills, own up to it!
Praying for your forever marriage.
If you and/or your spouse find yourself in a pattern of feeling unheard, I invite you to reach out so that we can work together to find better communication solutions that will improve the outcome of your conversations and bring you closer as a couple.