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What does scripture say about being an intentional listener?
To answer before listening— that is folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13
Folly and shame. Those are interesting words used to explain what it is when you don’t listen but open your mouth anyway. I like the words used to describe not listening in these other translations. They lay it on the line!
- Answering before listening is both stupid and rude. (MSG)
- What a shame—yes, how stupid!—to decide before knowing the facts! (TLB)
- Listen before you answer. If you don’t, you are being stupid and insulting. (GNT)
- To answer someone before hearing him out is both stupid and embarrassing. (CJB)
Do you really listen intently to your spouse before you speak? When you hear to your spouse, it makes them feel important, worthy, and respected. Intentionally listening to what your spouse has to say is imperative for you to maintain a healthy, thriving marriage. When you open your heart to what your spouse has to say, you are in turn nurturing their spirit and creating a deeper connection with them.
With all the noise inside our own heads, it’s challenging to slow down and truly listen. When we are supposed to be listening, we actually tend to monopolize conversations and decide what we will say next rather than hearing what the person is trying to say
Good listening is hard. It takes intentional effort.
When you don’t really listen to your spouse, you make them feel unimportant, trampled and ignored.
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Here are five tips to listen better and improve communication with your spouse.
Turn off the devices and put everything down to listen to your spouse. Make your spouse feel comfortable by uncrossing your arms, and lean in toward them a bit to show interest in what they have to say.
Most importantly here, stop talking. As the old saying goes, you have two ears and one mouth, and that means you should listen twice as much as you speak.
Use eye contact. It creates a connection that will make your spouse feel comfortable. Pay attention to their body language to help you better understand what they are trying to say and how they feel about it.
Listen intentionally to determine which emotions your spouse may be feeling. Adjust your response to your spouse based on their emotional state. Don’t worry about what you will say next, just listen carefully and look for clues that will help you put yourself in their shoes.
Set your opinions aside. You are entitled to your own opinions, but just because you and your spouse disagree, it doesn’t mean either of you has to change your minds. However, during this time of listening to your spouse, you need to set them aside and make your spouse feel like they deserve to be heard.
Don’t interrupt or argue. Listen without giving advice. Wait your turn to respond, but don’t forget to check yourself and make sure you are interpreting what your spouse said correctly.
When your spouse finishes speaking, don’t assume anything. Make sure you understood correctly by rephrasing what your spouse said. You can say things like, “I hear you saying ___________.” Then ask, “Do I understand you correctly?”
Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. Image how they felt during the event they are sharing. Imagine yourself in the same type of situation. How would you react?
Before you respond, think about your words. Make sure you are not going to make them feel worse than they already do. If you feel offended or angry because of what your spouse said, do not attack them. Say something like, “I’ll need to take some time to think about what you said.”
Handling these conversations well will make your spouse secure enough to share with you in the future, thus keeping the lines of communication open.
Your time and attention are a gift to your spouse. Open communication is essential to having a successful and loving marriage. Practice these tips and improve your listening skills. Your marriage will be better for it.
Most importantly, you want to reflect the love of Jesus when your spouse needs someone to listen.
Would you like to read more about improving your relationships by listening intentionally to your spouse and others you care about?
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What do you need to work on most when listening to your spouse? Tell us in the comments below.