Christian Living


Marriage 911 03/13/18

Do You Genuinely Listen to Your Spouse?

Couple not connecting with each other

I frequently hear women complain of feeling unheard, devalued, and unimportant. This complaint used to surprise me until I listened more closely to what they were saying.

"My husband asks about my day," Esther said to me recently. "He will sit with me and let me chatter about my day. But, does he really care? Is he really listening to learn about me? I don't think so."

"Why do you say that?" I asked.

"I actually think he would say the same thing," she continued. "If you asked him if was really interested in what interests me, if he were honest he would say 'no.'"

I paused to think about what Esther was saying. I reflected briefly on my own marriage. How often do I pay close attention to what Christie says to me? How often do I ask genuine questions about her day and activities? I didn't like my answer.

To get help for your marriage from Dr. Hawkins and his qualified staff, please visit The Marriage Recovery Center website or call 206-219-0145.

We all want to be cared about. We want someone to take an active interest in our interests. We want to talk about our concerns and want a mate who cares genuinely about us.

"I must admit that I've let my husband slide by," Esther shared. "I noticed, however, that I'm sharing less and less with him and feeling more and more distant."

"What would genuine interest look like?" I asked. "I bet there are many people who want to know how to truly listen to their mate, asking for information they might use to grow closer."

"Genuine interest remembers about the other person," she said. "Genuine interest pays attention to the details of what is said, asking questions to learn more information. Genuine interest pays close attention and sits attentively while their mate talks."

"That is good stuff," I said. "I completely agree. That is what I want my wife to do when I'm talking."

Proverbs 1:5 says this about listening: "Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance."

What else can you do to actively listen, seeking to learn more information to grow closer to your mate? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Pay attention to your mate.

Take note of what is important to your mate. What are they doing during their day? What is important to them? Consider their life and the events that make up the fabric of their life. Notice the highs and lows, their joys and challenges. Pay attention and show that you care.

2. Ask questions of your mate from an attitude of caring.

Our mates know when we really care and when we don't. They know when we are asking questions just to make small talk and when we have genuine interest in them. Ask questions, and make comments, that reflect caring. 

3. Empathize with your mate.

Really caring involves empathy. Empathy — feeling with your mate — shows you are listening well and care about what they are saying. True empathy shows, is, healing and connects us in a powerful way to each other.

4. Remember what your mate says and what they are doing.

Nothing screams 'caring' louder than remembering what your mate has already told you. In fact, true, active listening means not only remembering what your mate has said, but engaging with that information. What does their activity mean to you? How does it impact you? Show your caring by remembering what they have told you. 

5. Seek to learn more about your mate.

Always seek more information about your mate. Active listening, listening to learn, requires seeking more and more information. Your mate will signal when they have shared enough. They will show they appreciate your listening and gently shift topics.     

Do you listen well? If not, consider applying the above strategies to your life.

We'd also love to hear from you. Share your feedback below or send a confidential note to me and my team and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center and my Marriage Intensives on my website: www.marriagerecoverycenter.com.You'll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.

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