In marital counseling I find that oftentimes the source of a couple’s presenting problem stems from poor communication. That basically means somebody is sending a verbal or non-verbal message while at the same time somebody else is receiving or listening to it.
Many couples claim they are good communicators but it doesn’t take much time to see that they do a lot of talking but actually practice very little listening. It takes both to have communication.
Why is it that people do not listen? The following are some of the most common reasons:
- Lack a Physical Ability (Some people cannot hear, physically.)
- Lack an Environment Conducive for Hearing (Distractions: Noise or something else on one’s mind.)
- Lack Intentional Attention (Attitude towards: the other, the subject, or the tone of the delivery.)
- Lack Active Listening Skills (Humble self to learn)
It’s not enough to identify the source of this problem we must take time to learn how to overcome them. This lack of listening is divisive and destructive for not only marriages but damages every kind of relationship, including and especially the one God tries to have with us.
He commanded us to listen hundreds of times in His written Word. He tries to help us hear Him by sending us His Word. He even speaks to us in our dreams and through visions. When we do listen to Him an intimate relationship is developed which allows us to ask anything according to His will and He will do it for us. (I John 5:14) Sadly, when we don’t listen, for whatever reason, we miss the many, many blessings He’s planned for us.
Similarly, we miss many blessings when we fail to listen to our spouse because it is what develops intimacy in a marital relationship. It is a wise person who gets to know their spouse’s heart and mind and not just their physical parts. Practicing listening may, however, actually help take the couple to a degree of intimacy where those non-verbal communication techniques are gladly received. (Hmmmm, guys listen up!)
So let’s get busy and eradicate this lack.
- Do something about your inability to hear, physically.
- Do you need a physical healing? Ask for it.
- Do you need a hearing aid? Get one.
- Do you need a pen and paper? Get one.
- Do something about the distractions.
- Do you need to turn the TV off? Do it.
- Do you need to set up a better time when your head is clear? Set the time.
- Do you need to plan a different location? Speak up and designate the place.
The first two categories on why people don’t listen are fairly easy to remedy. However, the third one is a bit more difficult to overcome and the forth one takes some willingness to learn and apply. So listen up:
- Make an attitude adjustment.
- Proverbs 1: 7, Reverence of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
- 51:10, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
- 11:23, The desire of the righteous is only good; the expectation of the wicked is wrath.
- Proverbs 1:5, A wise man will hear and will increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain to wise counsel… (Humility)
- Do onto others as you would have them do onto you. (You want others to listen and understand you…do likewise.)
- Seek to understand rather than to be understood. (The listener needs to ask questions rather than make declarations.)
- Do not interrupt! Proverbs 18:13, He that answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.
- Think before you speak. Ephesians 4:15, …speak the truth in love… (Sometimes things need to be said but say in such a way that only addressed the behavior NOT the reason for the behavior.)
- Admit when you are wrong. James 5:16, Therefore you must continually confess your faults (sins) to one another and pray for yourselves on behalf of one another so that you would be healed.
Listening offers all kinds of benefits.
- A great relationship with God who does exceeding, abundantly above all that we can think or image.
- A great relationship with our spouse. Who knows what kind of exceeding abundance that listening could add to our lives.
Practice listening and see!
My book Character Blocks can be a benefit to you as well when it comes to the ABCs of communication. You can get it from this website under “Books”.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life…here on earth. If you haven’t done such a good job with your relationships you can still end well. My prayer for you is that you will HEAR what is being said today and enter into a new and living way with God and man. Amen!!