Okay, I will be the first to admit, listening was (sometimes still is) my most challenging area as a wife in those beginning years of marriage. It took some time, multiple mistakes, and hard conversations for me to learn how to become a better listener in my marriage.
I had good intentions, but good intentions are not enough when it comes to effectively communicating and listening to your husband.
I heard what I wanted to hear or listened so that I could respond. Then it hit me.
What if instead of saying, “I am listening,” I actually started listening?
Unfortunately, the art of listening didn’t come naturally for me. Friend, it takes HARD, INTENTIONAL work. Let’s not forget about time.
Work I was willing to do to become the kind of wife I knew I could be. The kind of wife God created me to be for my husband.
Being a person who listens is a trait that is encouraged throughout scripture.
James, Jesus’s brother, encourages us all to be “QUICK to hear, SLOW to speak, [and] SLOW to anger.”(James 1: 9). As imagers of Christ, listening – especially to our spouse—is a reflection of our maturity in Christ.
If I wanted a safe space where my husband wanted to share, then I needed to provide open ears where he could share and he is heard.
If you can relate? Then you are in the right place.
Let’s talk about three tips to help you become a better listener in your marriage.
Listen to hear and not respond.
Okay, listening to hear and not respond was the biggest issue for me when it came to listening to my husband early in my marriage. The moment my hubby took a deep breath, I was ready to pounce with my response.
Every interruption only pushed my hubby away. My interruptions communicate what he wants to share is not more relevant or valuable than what I want to say. No surprise, we would have some communication challenges.
Who wants to talk to someone who constantly interrupts?
When my hubby shares, instead of being quick to respond, I practice the pause. Pausing is particularly helpful when I disagree or when what he says hits a nerve. Pausing also helps me to process what my hubby said versus what I heard. (Let’s be real, sometimes those are not the same thing. Just sayin’.)
It takes practice and intentionality to be completely present in the conversation. When I listen to hear, I can even hear what my hubby is not sharing. I hear the Holy Spirit guiding my heart, my emotions, and my words so that I can minister to my husband. Over time, I learned to step outside of myself and lean more into being available to love and show up for my husband.
I became a better wife.
Get rid of distractionsLet’s face it; our lives can be bombarded with all sorts of distractions. Whether you are responding to the responsibilities of your career or trying to talk in between kiddos calling your name, distractions are always there.
Listening, genuinely listening to another person isn’t always so easy.
How often are you talking with your spouse while folding the laundry, trying to get a talk while chasing the kiddos, or while cooking dinner? Maybe Spotify or sounds of the TV lull in the background while notification alerts ding from your phone? Sound familiar?
Being two working parents and a house full of fellas, our lives certainly don’t allow for intimate listening moments all the time. For the sake of our marriage, I have learned to be intentional in creating space and time where my hubby can talk and share his day, his thoughts, his prayers, and his dreams. As his wife, God designed me to be safe, open space for my husband to talk and him for me.
Listening requires intentionality.
Listening includes hearing what my hubby is saying, paying attention to his tone, and observing his body language. If I am distracted, I can hear his words, but miss the non-verbal cues and be disconnected from him.
If you want to be a better listener, be intentional to limit distractions. A few things to consider:
- Put your phone down.
- Carve out specific time in your day to talk
- Maintain eye contact.
- Limit environmental noise
Be willing to change your behaviors
The funny thing about our marriage, my hubby and I are opposites in many ways. He is definitely a natural listener while I am a talker. He is an auditory learner while I am a visual learner. He gets laser focus while I often multitask. Our opposites can lead to some interesting moments and some challenging ones too.
When I realize my poor listening skills were negatively impacting my marriage and my husband’s willingness to share with me, I knew I needed to change my actual behaviors.
I started by asking a few questions and preparing my heart to hear his honest responses. My ears needed to be open to hearing, and my emotions needed to be in check.
- What do I do that makes you feel heard?
- What do I do that makes you feel like I am not listening?
- What stops you from sharing with me?
- What do I do that makes you want to continue sharing?
The more you practice listening to your spouse, the easier it will become. Over time, you will start to see your relationship deepen. Decide today to be a better listener. How have you grown as a listener for your spouse?
Cheering you on,