The Art Of Listening May Be The Most Important Marriage Skill –
“You’re not listening to me!” “Yes I am. I heard every word you said.”
Many of us are guilty of not really listening to what our spouse is saying. While this lack of attention, or attentiveness is most commonly associated with men, women are often just as guilty.
To really listen to someone else takes a conscious effort. This is a skill that takes work and time to learn. But, the effort is well worth it because the art of listening can work wonders within your relationship.
Both spouses get caught up in life and often start to close up in their own individual worlds. When listening stops, the relationship may go from a “we” to a “me,” leaving the other spouse out in the cold. A spouse caught up in their own world, without listening to what the other spouse needs, becomes a truly self-centered individual rather than a part of a team.
You might “hear” the other person talking, but since you are so wrapped up inside your own world, you don’t really take any notice of what your spouse is saying. Or maybe you are filtering everything he or she is saying through your own needs instead of the needs your spouse is expressing. As a result, your spouse may end up feeling unheard, and even more painful, unimportant.
Remember, any relationship is just that – a relationship. If you stop listening to the other person, and keep thinking only about what you want, there is no relationship.
Without a relationship, you wind up being two people living in different worlds. Sure, every once in awhile one of you might try to get through to the other, but without a real effort to repair your listening skills, this will be met with very little success.
However, if you are willing to take the time and effort to commit to really listening, you will begin to note the subtleties in what your spouse is saying. You will start picking up on the concerns, the hopes, and the fears that are important to your spouse. Sometimes the words are left unspoken, but when you build your listening skills, you will hear the underlying tones.
Generally speaking, men tend to think they have to keep their feelings under control and not show anything. In the process they get so caught up in their problems that the rest of the world, their spouse included, start going unnoticed. As a result, those feelings of being shut-out and neglect sets in, which is the beginning of a breakdown in communications.
Then, generally speaking, again, women tend to talk about their feelings more, which may lead to forgetting to listen. While women are believing they’re communicating well, they may be leaving no room for their spouse to express themselves, and unknowingly ignoring the subtle messages hidden in what little communication their spouse is offering.
By making an effort to listen – really listen – you will be able to understand your spouse better, and really comprehend those things they deem important enough to talk about. You may even hear something that needs more attention. But you won’t catch those things unless you listen well enough to know it matters.
Then when you know, you’ll be able to take whatever steps are necessary to provide some additional support, and help your spouse through whatever is troubling them. Once you perfect your listening skills, share your knowledge with your spouse. You both can benefit. Marriage is a two way street. You’ll need your spouse to really listen to you sometime, too.
When you learn the skill of listening, you will start hearing what really matters to each other. You will start to understand how what you do, or don’t do, matters to your spouse, and your marriage. You may be amazed at how you can make things better in your marriage by simply listening to what is being said (or not said) by your spouse. Sometimes it’s the simplest thing you could have been doing long ago… had you only truly listened.