Verizon’s infamous tag line, "Can You Hear Me Now?," has been a very successful marketing phrase. It seems everyone knows it... On the other hand, in the context of a marriage relationship, many spouses have a hard time answering this question. More specifically, listening to our spouse when they need it the most is sometimes is a difficult task.
Let's start with this: hearing is not listening! Ya heard that!?! Listening involves hearing BUT also understanding. Your spouse simply wants to be understood. A simple, “I understand what you are saying” or “I understand how you feel” will help your spouse know you are really listening to them. This will help improve your marriage immensely if you just implement these comments!
Secondly, we can think a lot faster than we can hear. Your mind works 4X faster than the voice we hear which explains why the mind often wonders, and creates things the other person is actually saying or meaning. There are many distractions today- work, bills, kids, the football game, girl’s night out, the internet. I’m sure I can add a million more things that creep up as distractions. And because of these distractions, it takes intentional effort for both spouses to really listen to each other. This means turn off the TV, set the computer aside or put the cell phone down, and really listen to your spouse. So what can be done to really improve listening in your marriage?
Here's three common sense tips on how to really listen to your spouse:
1) Make eye contact and use non-verbal behavior. Looking at your spouse’s eyes is an important gesture in the art of listening. Additionally, appropriate posture and nodding your head shows interest.
2) Paraphrase what you heard. When you clarify and summarize what you heard is an important tip in knowing how to really listen to your spouse. This is called active listening. The best thing you can do improve your marriage relationship right now is to implement active listening today.
3) Do not interrupt when your spouse is speaking. The tendency to talk too much especially when you are in a fight poses a constant threat to the importance of listening. If interrupting is a problem in your marriage right now, you may have to integrate a buzzer/timer not to help your communication but to help your listening skills. Three minute intervals may be the thing you need now to stop interrupting each other.
I hope you will use these three tips this week. It is said that the average time a couple spends together is only four minutes per day. With only spending less than 30 minutes together during a week, it is no wonder why our listening skills are underused. If you choose to change that statistic by spending even 10 minutes of listening time per day this week, you will double your time together, thus utilizing those listening skills. The next time you hear that Verizon commercial and the question, can you hear me now, you and your spouse can emphatically say in unison, “Yes, I can!”
Finally, try doing this little listening exercise this week by utilizing these prompts to start:
- Express three strengths in your marriage. Hear the other person first and then respond second.
- Express three growth areas in your marriage. Hear the other person first and then respond second.
Rob is proud that his wife Cara plays an instrumental part of what he does. They have a combined 20+ years helping individuals and couples with their relationships and marriages. Rob has a BA in Christian Education from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology and is an Online Psychology Professor for Grand Canyon University. Rob is also certified marriage counselors in the PREPARE/ENRICH program. He is a non-denominational ordained minister and officiates wedding ceremonies. Rob combines his experience and education along with his unique approach that is sincerely relational, empowering, hopeful, honest and compassionate. To learn more about Rob, The Marriage Lane and his approach read here.
*Lead photo created using the app A Beautiful Mess, available for sale here in the iTunes app store! Thanks ABM app for the creative tool!