Talking vs. Listening
He who answers before listening–
that is his folly and his shame.
The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Poor communication skills have been named as the number one cause of divorce. That statement is a “no brainer” when we think about two people living together in a marriage relationship, dealing with dozens of tough issues. Every single issue that we face as a couple depends on our use of communication skills in order to deal with them successfully! These issues are code for the underlying reality of our differences. Anything a couple deals with, and disagrees on, becomes an issue!
Our scripture for today points out the biggest flaw in most couple’s communication skills… interrupting each other…answering before listening. We can never understand our spouse – much less appreciate them – if we don’t learn to truly listen to them! I tell couples all the time – learn to put aside words and look for meaning. Your spouse may not be able to verbalize their thoughts in precise terms, but if you truly listen before speaking, you can start to understand their “heart.” For example, a husband may accuse everyone in the house of overspending – most of the time this is a symptom of the insecurity he is feeling. A wife may use inaccurate words about how many actual times she has been left out of conversations or activities. Her heart is simply saying that she would like more attention from her husband. If he argues over the accuracy of her words, he misses her message!
I have learned to appreciate Melanie’s differences from me because I’ve learned to listen…at least a little better than before…to her “heart.” She has done the same for me. We are not perfect, nor is anyone, but small improvements in listening produce large dividends!
Father, help me to slow my responses and increase my listening ability. May your Holy Spirit bridle my tongue today. In Jesus’ Name, amen.