Communication does not merely involve verbalizing our own thoughts and feelings, but listening to those of our spouse.
Listening well helps couples communicate more effectively, and ultimately deepens intimacy between the individuals. But it can be difficult to do, especially when discussing a sensitive subject.
Here’s how to make listening a less passive (and more fruitful) process.
This first tip should go without saying, but you would be surprised at how often we listen to our spouse without giving them our full attention.
Put down your phone, close your laptop, or turn off the television. Even if you aren’t looking directly at your various devices, it can be hard to listen when distractions lie just within arms reach.
Watch your body language
Not only does our body communicate messages to the people we interact with, but it also affects how we perceive a situation and receive others.
If it is a heated topic, don’t scowl, roll your eyes, or cross your arms. These bodily cues communicate a negative message to our spouse, and can even influence us in a harmful way, hardening our hearts and preventing us from listening with compassion.
Sit upright, face your spouse and look him in the eyes. This will help you pay more attention to what is being said, and will show your husband that you hear him.
When we aren’t actively listening, our mind begins to craft our response or argument before the other person finishes speaking. This can lead to us to jump into the conversation and interject with our own thoughts
Don’t dominate the conversation and don’t interrupt, even with well-meaning advice. You aren’t listening if you are speaking, so be patient and honor them by giving them a chance to express their thoughts and feelings.
Reflect and rephrase
When they are done speaking, help your significant other know that you understood what they said by restating their point. Avoid jumping to conclusions.
If you aren’t sure what they said or what they meant, ask for clarification. Make sure you listen and then respond appropriately.
Try to understand where your spouse is coming from, especially if he shares a problem, concern, or difficulty. Validate their feelings; even if you don’t totally agree, look for some truth in their words.
Sometimes your spouse just needs a listening ear. So seek first to understand your spouse, before offering advice.