Over the years, we’ve heard a great deal about the importance of listening in marriage. This is one of those things that seems simple enough to understand, but for some reason is really hard to do consistently. The simple fact is that attentive listening is a skill and takes practice and determination. Rather than share the ways to become a better listener (you can find that information just about anywhere), we’d like to share with you some reasons why it is important to each of us to be heard.
Paul: As a man, I believe my reasons for wanting to be heard and understood are a bit different than Steph’s. I equate being listened to with being respected. When Stephanie truly listens to my point of view without refuting or rebutting it, it lets me know she respects me. And that’s really important to me. Another reason I appreciate Stephanie listening to me is because it tells me I matter to her. When she cares enough to listen without interrupting, she’s letting me know that she wants to know what’s happening with me and that I’m more important to her than what’s happening with her at that moment. And finally, I appreciate Stephanie listening to me because it builds my self-esteem. When she hears my input, internalizes it, and responds to it with respect and appreciation, I see my place as her rock and confidant solidified.
Steph: Paul tends to be more quiet while I am more vocal. I like to talk about all sorts of things many of which Paul has no interest in. When Paul listens to me I know that I am loved, valued, and cherished. And when he listens without interrupting or watching the clock, I know he is making a deliberate choice to make me a priority. I appreciate when Paul listens without offering advice while I share a problem I am having. He affirms me when he listens to my point of view especially if it is about something he is struggling to deal with. My longing to be heard and known with all my thoughts and opinions, dreams and fears is satisfied when Paul truly listens with his heart.
We have come to realize just how much attentive listening communicates love and respect in our relationship. This love and respect provides a strong foundation for open and honest communication between us.
Activity: Take a few minutes of quiet time with your spouse this week to share why it’s important to each of you to be heard and fully understood.