Written by Aaron & April Jacob
I was working away on a project when Aaron came into the room and had a lot of things he wanted to talk about. He wanted to share his thoughts on a few things about his life, career, plans for the future, ideas, etc. I wanted to work on my project.
However, it quickly became apparent to me that the very best thing I could do for my marriage in that moment was to give Aaron my full attention.
It wasn’t easy to close my laptop and turn my mind away from my own project, but as I made that choice, something beautiful happened - my love for Aaron grew.
I learned an important lesson that night. I learned that when my spouse wants to talk, I ought to listen.
Everyday Listening Invites Intimacy
One of the very best ways to show love is to listen to and give your spouse - that most important person in your life - your time, attention, and eye contact. To truly listen with your heart. To listen beyond what they are saying to what they are feeling and sharing. It’s an intimate thing, you know, to be invited into a conversation where someone is willing to share with you.
When that someone is your spouse, you would be wise to stop everything you are doing, and to listen, because listening with all of your heart will invite both respect and love in.
You see, listening isn’t just for the deep, heartfelt conversations your spouse may want to have about life, but listening is a crucial and critical skill that you need in every conversation you have with your spouse.
Can you imagine how the level of intimacy could increase in your relationship if, when your spouse spoke to you, you stopped and dropped what you were doing and listened? Even if it was to as simple a request as asking what you thought about something on the news, bringing up a calendar event, or talking through an upcoming to-do list. Yes, if you listen to your spouse with all of your heart, respect and love will grow.
There Will be Opposition
Now, be warned, there will be a million things working against you and distracting you from being a great listener.
- Your mind will wander.
- You will feel too busy.
- You will be irritated or agitated that your spouse wants to talk right now.
- You will want to give your phone, your favorite TV shows, or your work your attention instead of listening to the ups and downs of your spouse's day at work.
- You will want to take offense if something is said that you don't like.
- You will want to practice selective listening.
- You will want to ignore your spouse so you don’t have to respond.
- You will want to listen half-heartedly because you don't care.
- You will want to fix all the problems, and so you will miss connection.
- You will interrupt, and that won't go well.
And the list goes on.
In essence, there will be a lot of pulls working against you to prevent you from experiencing the deep connection, love, and respect that can come from listening with all of your heart. Don’t let that happen.
Instead, take every opportunity to communicate with your spouse as a chance to practice and improve your listening skills. You can learn to be a better listener, and fast.
What Good Listeners Do
Becoming a better listener starts with caring about your partner. Caring enough to listen to them, hear them, and understand their heart.
So, what do good listeners do?
Good listeners in a marriage relationship lean in, make eye contact, offer validation, and don’t try and fix things.
Good listeners nod their heads, make small comments, and ask follow up questions. They don’t think about what they are going to say next, because they are okay with silence. They take on their role as a listener in order to show love, to connect, and to draw closer to their spouse.
Good listeners listen with not just their ears, but with all of their hearts.
Finally, good listeners seek to act - to do something about what their spouse is saying. Now, this doesn’t mean they seek to fix things for their spouse, but good listening helps you learn a lot about a person, about his or her needs, wants, desires, likes, hopes, worries, fears, etc.
With that kind of knowledge, you are empowered to serve, love, and lift your spouse in new ways. You may even hear something in what your spouse is saying that invites you to change your ways!
As you aim to give your spouse your attention, your care, your concern, your support, and your listening heart, love will grow. Respect will grow. Connection will grow. And intimacy will grow. And that growth will bless your marriage this week and in the coming months. You’ve got this.
Put it into action: The next time your spouse talks to you, try to make eye contact with him/her and keep that eye contact for as long as possible. You may find yourself feeling a little flurry of romance all over again out of the sheer intimacy of something as simple as locking eyes with your spouse and listening to him or her share the thoughts and feelings of their soul.
"What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility."
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