Today, I want to talk about loving our husbands by listening to them. Listening is a lost art. We live in a world with so many distractions, and it is challenging to put down our electronic devices long enough to really listen to others. I know I'm guilty of attempting to listen to my husband (and children) while texting one of the older children, checking my email, or scrolling through Facebook. Let's face it -- we could all use a refresher on Listening 101!
Why Listening is Important
Learning to listen is crucial, because it is a direct line to the heart. Many husbands and wives are lured away from a faithful marriage by someone who simply listens to them. (As a side note, many of our young people are also drawn away by someone who will take time to listen to them.) So, learning to listen well may be one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your marriage!
Listening is Not the Same as Hearing
The first thing to understand is that listening is non synonymous with hearing. We've probably all had the experience of trying to talk to our husbands while they were reading the newspaper or watching a ball game on TV. Some people enjoy talking just to hear themselves talk, but for most of us, talking to someone who is immersed in something else is not very satisfying. ;) Even if we say, "You didn't hear a word I just said," and our husbands are able to repeat our discourse word for word, it still doesn't satisfy. If we just wanted someone to hear what we say and repeat it back, then we could simply speak into a recording device and play it back! True listening goes beyond just hearing. It involves body language that communicates, "You are important to me. I am interested in what you are saying." It also involves giving and receiving feedback. That's the kind of listening that communicates love to our husbands.
Listening is Best Done Face to Face
Maintaining eye contact is an excellent way to demonstrate that we are interested in what our husbands are saying. We need to look them in the face while they are speaking, if possible. Interestingly enough, in yesterday's message our Pastor spoke on prayer and seeking the presence of God and how the same Hebrew word is translated "presence" or "face." So, we seek the presence of God when we seek His face. (See Psalm 27:8.) In the same way, we have a desire to talk face-to-face with those we care about, which is exemplified by the inventions of such technologies as Skype and Face Time. Obviously, humans like talking face-to-face as it provides the feedback we need, as we "read" the facial expressions of the one we are communicating with.
Listening Needs to Include the Heart
One advantage of talking face-to-face is it allows us to pick up on non-verbal cues. This is important because listening requires going beyond the actual words spoken and listening with the heart. An attentive person will "listen between the lines" and discern the speaker's feelings and pick up on fears, insecurities, a need for affirmation, etc. Learning to listen at this deeper level takes time and practice, but is definitely worth the investment. Many men don't feel comfortable sharing their feelings openly; therefore, we wives should become experts at not just listening to our husband's words, but hearing their hearts!
Listening Requires that We Stop Talking
Listening requires a cessation of talking. That may seem obvious, but some people can't stop talking long enough to listen to others! We have to learn to just shut up long enough to give our husbands a chance to talk! You may have a talkative husband, but generally speaking, wives are the ones who tend to talk more. If your husband is the more quiet type, he may be content to let you do all of the talking, and you will have to exercise great self-control to be quiet long enough for him to speak. Furthermore, you may have to restrain yourself from helping him finish his sentences or hurry his story along! :)
Listening Doesn't Mean Offering Advice
Listening doesn't mean you have to offer advice or solve all his problems. Women tend to be "fixers" and when we hear someone share a problem, we want to offer a solution! Most of the time, our husbands don't want us to solve their problems for them, they just want us to listen and be a sounding board and to show interest and compassion. I know for myself, that many times as I talk through a situation or problem, the solution becomes clear.
Another thing worth mentioning is that our husbands may share incidences where they have been hurt, offended or treated unfairly. In those situations it is vital that we not take up an offense! Also, remember that we are listening to them as their help-meet and companion, not as their mother!!! There's a big difference!
Listening Requires the Ability To Keep Secrets
I know it's a stereotype, but I've seen that it's often true! Many women delight in sharing some juicy morsel of news that no one else knows! ;) (I automatically think of Rachel Lynde on Anne of Green Gables!) If we want our husbands to share details of their day, confide in us, and even risk sharing their hearts with us, then they must know that it is safe to do so. We wives must guard our tongues, protect our husband's reputations, and carefully keep their confidences at all costs!
I think we can all agree that learning to listen is no easy task! But, it is an extremely important skill to develop! The success of our marriage may depend on it!
Your Turn to Share:
Have you learned to really listen to your husband? What obstacles have you had to overcome? If you have a testimony in this area, I'd love to hear your story! Please share so we might all be encouraged!
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