How Good Are You at Listening to Your Spouse? (Part II)
By Janel Breitenstein
Listening is a form of loving. It’s a gift, really, of being fully there to receive a person.
Words tether us to each other. They are, in many ways (but not all), our relationship, the cord between us.
Authors John and Stasi Eldredge note in Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul:
The gift of presence is a rare and beautiful gift. To come―unguarded, undistracted―and be fully present, fully engaged with whoever we are with at that moment. When we offer our unguarded presence, we live like Jesus.
So what’s one way, through listening, you could move into being fully present?
Reminder on how to use this inventory: With each number, see if it’s a strength, weakness, or neither. Then, select one or two weaknesses from this list (and one or two from yesterday’s) you’d like to improve.
- You refrain from finishing your spouse’s sentences.
- You ask for clarification when you don’t understand what your spouse means.
- You don’t feel the need to prove yourself as wise or helpful.
- Rather than planning your responses, you try to set those aside in your head and focus on what’s being said.
- Your spouse is noticeably comforted after you spend time listening to them.
- Your advice is highly individualized to your spouse, reflecting back what you’ve heard them say and steering clear of pat answers and cliches.
- You have time in your schedule to listen to your spouse.
- Before offering advice, you offer compassion and understanding: “I am so sorry. That sounds incredibly hard.”
- You share your own circumstances that relate, but are careful not to refocus the conversation on you, or to indicate your circumstances were worse/harder.
- You think of your spouse’s experience after you’ve left the conversation, internalizing their struggle. They’re on your heart, so you pray for them, too.
- More than a problem being fixed, you prioritize that your spouse feels heard, received, and understood.
The good stuff: Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. (James 1:19)
Action points: Write down your points for change, and pray God will create these from the inside out in your heart. Then tell your spouse about them for some accountability. Bonus: Have your spouse take this inventory evaluating you as a listener.
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