Are we guilty of half-hearted listening in our relationships? I know I am! Becoming a Better Listener will improve relationships with others!
I was sitting at my computer doing homework when my husband began talking to me. I was making the appropriate comments and half listening when he asked me a question. Guiltily, I looked at him and told him I hadn’t really been listening and asked him if he could repeat what he said. He just smiled and began again. At that moment, I decided that I needed to be a better listener!
How often do we half listen to what our spouses are saying? We are busy with kids, cleaning and cooking while our spouse wants to talk, but do we take the time to stop what we are doing and really listen? Many communication issues in marriages come from spouses not listening to each other.
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How to Become a Better Listener in Your Marriage
Get Rid of Distractions
Distractions are one of the most common reasons we become poor listeners. Phones, television, computers and even children prevent us from being able to provide the attention effective listening requires. Turn off the TV, put your phone on silent, give something to your children to do to entertain them so you can give your spouse your full attention. Look at your spouse when he/she is talking. One thing I realized I needed to do when my husband was talking to me when I was doing homework was to turn my chair towards him so I wasn’t tempted to keep reading while he was talking. Removing distractions helps us to become better listeners.
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Let your spouse finish speaking before you respond. In fact, don’t be thinking about what you are going to say while they are talking. Really listen to what they have to say. It can be a challenge when we listen not to think of what we will say next. It takes practice to just be in the moment when our spouses are talking to us.
I used to think I needed to think of what I would say next while my spouse was speaking with me. Focusing on what they were saying, instead of on my reply, has helped me be in the moment with my spouse. Not interrupting and really trying to understand what your spouse is saying will help them feel important to you. Not only that but they will understand how much you care about them as well as what they have to say.
People don’t just listen with their ears. They listen with their bodies as well. What are some ways you can improve your body language? Look at your spouse, turn towards them and lean in. With body language, you are showing your spouse that you are listening and interested in what they are saying. Acknowledge your partner while they are talking. Nodding your head, saying yes and other verbal cues are all forms of body language. By doing these we show our spouse that they have our undivided attention.
If your body tells them you are bored and uninterested, they may stop talking and become reluctant to share their thoughts with you. Show them with your body language you are listening. Body language is another skill you can practice in your other relationships too!
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Make sure your spouse knows you know and understand what they are saying. You can say things like, “I can see why you might feel that way,” “I can understand how that made you upset,” or “That must have really been hard.” By validating your spouse’s feelings you are letting them know you are listening and understanding them.
One way we validate our spouse’s feelings is by reflective listening. Reflective listening involves two steps. The first step to reflective listening is when we listen to our spouses. The second step to reflective listening is to rephrase what we have heard back to our spouse. This is an important step because it lets our spouse know we were listening but it also lets them know if what we heard is what they were really saying.
Can you see how reflective listening could prevent miscommunication? Can you think back on instances when reflective listening could have prevented a further problem? Reflective listening may feel awkward at first, but keep practicing this skill. This will not only improve your marriage, but you can also use reflective listening in your other relationships. I think this would be great to use with teens!
With a little effort, you can become a better listener in your marriage. Just follow these simple steps and see how much the communication between you and your spouse improves!
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Eveliina is an intern currently working with us! She is on her way to getting her degree in Marriage and Family Studies! Eveliina is a wife, a mom, and a grandma. She loves every moment of life. She also has a love for photography and reading!