Would you like to improve your communication in your marriage?
I think the answer to this question for everyone would be yes. Even if you have a marriage with great communication, it can always be better. Communication is said to be one of the top 5 reasons that a marriage will either fail or survive. Let’s face it, most of us are not very good communicators, and for those of us who are we are probably married to someone who isn’t.
The problem with communication in marriage today is that we don’t listen.
I have heard a lot of people say that they can’t get their spouse to talk to them or that sometimes they just don’t want to talk about everything. I get it, sometimes you just want to let things go. In marriage you are constantly hurting each other’s feelings so you just get tired of always bringing it up. The problem is not what we aren’t saying, the problem is that we aren’t listening. I have only been married for 6 years now, and I can tell you I have already learned how to listen better.
Listening is the number one way to serve your spouse.
In the book “The Celebration of Discipline” by Richard J Foster, he talks about the service of listening. He says that the beginning of love for each other is learning to listen. If you cannot listen to your spouse then you do not love them as you should. That is a pretty bold statement I know, but if you don’t listen when someone is speaking, what does that say about your heart towards that person? It could say that you don’t care what they have to say, their opinions and feelings don’t matter, that your time is more valuable than theirs, or that what they are saying is of no significance to you. Do those sound like feelings of love? Those are feelings of selfishness.
Don’t be a fake listener.
Have you ever been talking to that person who just nods their head while you are talking but they are looking at their phone. Or the person who looks around at everything else except you in the conversation. Maybe the person who says “yeah” to something that didn’t even indicate that response? What about the person who leaves your conversation before you are even done talking? Or my favorite, the person who comes to talk to you but it is at an inconvenient time for your, but they expect you to drop everything you are doing and talk to them. These are all qualities of a terrible listener. These types of people are just playing the part to look like they are listening. But I guarantee you, if you come to them a few days later or even minutes later, they won’t remember anything you said. I have definitely met these people. I have even worked for these people. There is nothing worse than a boss that won’t listen to you.
We can’t just listen, we have to listen well.
Set yourself up for success when it comes to listening to to your spouse. If your husband comes to talk to you, stop what you are doing, put your phone down, look him in the eyes and engage. If it is not a good time, very politely ask him if the conversation can wait and explain to him you want to wait because you want to hear what he is saying. Position your body to focus the person you are listening to. Turn directly towards them, and don’t look around at what else is happening around you. I understand if you have kids this is difficult, so maybe wait until the kids are asleep or when you and your husband have some time alone.
Listening well requires no agenda.
We have all done it. Especially in our conflict resolution conversations. We know exactly what we are going to say to our spouse. We’ve rehearsed it in our heads a million times, and we know exactly what to say for each response. If you want to listen well get your agenda out of your head. The reason you need to do this is because if you don’t, you won’t really hear what your spouse is saying. You will only hear what you rehearsed in your head. Your prejudgements on the conversation are now literally hindering your ability to hear what is really being said. What happens next is that your spouse is now frustrated with you because you have no idea what they are saying and you are angry because you know exactly what they said in your head. Get rid of your agenda and listen in the moment to what is being said.
This is the #1 thing I have learned about listening.
People don’t listen with their ears, they listen with their insecurities. I have learned this not only in marriage but in life. From my experience with my bosses which of them had confidence in themselves and which of them were overly insecure. I had one boss who literally exhausted me because I could not say anything without him thinking it was about him in some passive aggressive way. Don’t do this! Everything is not about you. People honestly don’t really care about you, they care more about themselves and what is happening in their lives. I could literally be having a conversation about how I didn’t like spam and my boss would turn the conversation into something I didn’t like about him. Not only is this selfish but it is very arrogant.
Our insecurities blind us to reality.
In our marriage, Zach and I have had conversations that just went no where. Later we discovered it was because of a pre-judgement based on an insecurity that we developed in our past. For example, Zach struggles with sarcasm, even good sarcasm. The reason is because he felt like growing up he was always the butt of the joke, so now when people make a sarcastic comment about him, he takes it personal. This may sound over sensitive, but it is a real feeling he has. There have been times in our marriage where I was trying to joke and play with him and he got hurt by what I said. He would get mad and I would have no idea what I had done. Finally he confessed to me that he grew up with people making fun of him in his family and it has caused him to be insecure in this area. So instead of Zach hearing or seeing that I was just being flirty and playful, he took it as I was attacking him because that is what had happened to him in the past.
Listen to your spouse.
Listen to your spouse. Don’t listen with your prejudgements, your insecurities, or your selfishness. Really listen to them. Listen to what they are saying. If you are confused or not sure, just ask them to clarify. Repeat back to them what you think they are saying. Your spouse is the person you should be able to be most honest and most vulnerable with. Listen and listen well. For more information on how to communicate better with your spouse check out my blog post here.
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