Mark: Jill was telling me about something that we needed to do this weekend. I was busy answering an email on my phone and I absentmindedly said a few “Uh huh’s” to feign interest in what she was saying. When she said, “Mark, did you hear me?” I had to admit that I didn’t. I was listening to pacify her, not listening to hear.

Jill: Mark was telling me how he wanted to lay out the garden this year. As soon as he started to share his thoughts, I began to think about why his way wouldn’t work. As soon as he stopped sharing his thoughts, I began to disagree. I was listening to debate, not listening to hear.

Mark: We all do it. We listen to do everything BUT listen! We’re distracted, tired, prideful, or irritated when we need to be focused, alert, humble, and kind.

Jill: Listening is one of the most important skills in marriage, but it’s one of the least developed skills for most of us. We can debate like the best of them. We can rationalize nonstop. We respond with snide or sarcastic remarks. But listen to really hear our spouse? That doesn’t come so easy.

Mark: Want to become a better listener? Here are three ways:

  • Stop, Look, and Listen. Get in the habit of stopping what you’re doing when your spouse (or child) says something to you. Then look him/her in the eyes and listen with your ears and your eyes.
  • Respond, Don’t React. Just this week, try to slow your conversations down to respond lovingly instead of reacting impatiently.
  • Repeat back to your spouse what he or she said to you. You don’t have to agree with them, just respond with “What I hear you saying is…” This assures them that you really did hear what they said.

Jill: When we improve our listening skills our spouse feels loved, cared for, and valued. Want to improve your marriage? Start by improving your listening skills today.

What about you? Which of the three ways to become a better listener can you use today?

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