“Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (NLT)
“You’re not listening to me!” Kathy blurted. John was preoccupied with the Sports page.
“I heard you,” he half-heartedly responds.
“Well … what do you think we should do with Billy?” the frustration was mounting in Kathy’s voice.
“Do about what?” John asked.
“See … you’re not listening! You don’t really care about me at all!” exploded Kathy.
One of the most loving and affirming gifts you can give your spouse is an attentive ear. When you listen, and hear not only the fact that is being shared, but the feeling it’s wrapped in, you are telling your spouse: “You’re important to me. I value what you have to say. I care about how you feel.”
Every message has a fact side and a feeling side. Most men speak, and hear, facts first and may occasionally catch the feeling behind them. Women (and children) often communicate their emotional feelings louder than the facts. This difference between husbands and wives makes listening a challenge for many couples.
The skill of listening for both the factual message and the emotion behind it is called reflective listening. We need to use our eyes and ears to be great listeners. Often the most important part of the message is being transmitted non-verbally. So watch for facial expressions, body language, and listen for the tone of voice; these are all speaking louder than the words.
When you demonstrate that you understand both the fact and the feeling that is being shared with you … you have gotten the full message. John would have done better to drop the paper … look at Kathy and say: “I’m sorry … I sense you’re frustrated about Billy … could you please tell me again.” Now he’s ready to really listen and Kathy would have felt loved and affirmed.
You’re ministering to your spouse when you genuinely listen. You are showing your love and concern; and that is fulfilling the greatest commandment to: “Love your neighbor (spouse) as yourself.”
Knee to Knee Nose to Nose Questions:
How are you are receiving both the fact and the feeling in messages that come from your spouse or children?
What are some of your poor listening habits … what can we do to change them?