I hope you had a chance to listen to our good friend Ted this last weekend. Because that’s exactly what he was talking about – listening. So, how’s your listening?
I’ll be the first to admit I could improve my own listening. It’s not that I never listen. But like all men I sometimes fall into the trap of selective listening. And it’s not that I’m not really listening – I am! In fact, Meredith can be talking to me while I’m watching a game. She doesn’t think I’m listening. But I can rattle off word-for-word what she just told me.
The fact of the matter is, I was listening but I wasn’t really being attentive. Really paying attention when our partner is talking means that we understand and validate them. It means we acknowledge them and that what they’re saying is important to us. And if it really isn’t important to us, we need to make it important to us.
Over the years I’ve found some ways to show attentiveness to Meredith. I want to share these with you, from a husband’s perspective at least. These are just simple things to do to let your wife know you are really listening.
· When she talks, turn toward her to let her know you’re paying attention.
· Put the phone down, pause the TV, or turn the radio down.
· Nod along with her, letting her know you understand her.
· Don’t interrupt but be ready to add your own insights to the conversation.
· Be patient. She may have a lot to say.
Now, when it comes to wives you’re not the experts on this. You don’t get a pass on listening. You need to be just as attentive to your husband as you think he should be to you. So here are some things you need to put into practice when he’s talking.
Take an active interest in what he’s interested in.
Don’t side with someone else if he’s telling you about a conflict.
He may actually be asking for advice instead of just getting it off his chest, so make sure you give him your opinion when appropriate.
Don’t point out when he’s wrong, using bad grammar, or got a story mixed up.
Pay attention. He may not have as many words as you, but he has just as much to say.
If we can come together as spouses and agree that each other has something worth saying, then our communication will be much better. We will be attentive listeners. We will be understanding and validating. We will be ready to act when we are asked to. And we will be showing love at all times.