9 Great Ways to Enhance Your Listening Skills

John ThurmanBy John Thurman7 Minutes

“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ come together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”—Dave Muer

“We have to listen to understand in the same way we want to be understood.”—Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

Much of what we experience in marriage has to do with our communication skills. Today I am giving you “9 Great Ways to Enhance Your Listening Skills.”

1. Actively listen with all of your senses.

a. Eyes – what you see

b. Ears – focused listening

c. Head – leaning forward

d.  Hands – in an open position

e. Heart – your intuitive gut

f.  Discernment – the Holy Spirit’s prompting

2. Be intentional about focusing on the good qualities in each other, and be sure to edify each other often.

3. Avoid criticism.

4. If you must say something negative, use the sandwich method. Share something positive, indicate what needs work, and then sandwich it with something else positive.

5. Be sure you listen to understand, not judge.

6. Manage your conflict!

7. Be assertive. One way of defining assertiveness is the ability to express your feelings and ask for what you want in the relationship. In resilient, long-term relationships, both individuals tend to be assertive. Rather than assuming their partner can read their mind, they share their thoughts and feelings and ask for what they want and need. Be sure to share your thoughts, feelings, ideas, and needs. The best way to do this is to use “I” statements. Example: “I worry when you don’t let me know you’ll be late” rather than “You are always late.”

8. Avoid the blame game and actively seek a solution that works for both of you.

9. Seek help from a mentor, pastor, relationship coach, or counselor if you get stuck.

The Rewards of Accepting Your Spouse’s Influence

When you and I learn to accept influence from our spouses, each partner chooses to allow the other to influence them. This could include seeking wisdom and advice from your partner, relying on them in certain areas of your life, and partnering together on certain decisions.

Discover that your relationship is not at a good pace? It might be worth checking into how well you two can accept each other’s input and influence. Could you be doing more to receive their input and ideas? If so, begin accepting their influence and ideas today! This slight shift begins a process of healing and hope.

For Men Only

Men, let’s be honest with each other. Sometimes, we are pretty awful listeners. And while I am a professional counselor who strives to hear my client’s stories, I am sometimes easily distracted from being influenced by my wife and listening to her. My experience tells me we need to do a better job dialing into our wives.

Just then, as Pilate was presiding over the tribunal, his wife sent him an urgent message: “Don’t harm that holy man, for I suffered a horrible nightmare last night about him!” (Matthew 27:19 TPT).

The Scripture speaks a lot about communication and healthy relationships. And there is one verse you probably read at least once a year at Easter. It is a pivotal point in the hours before Jesus Christ was crucified.

I wonder what would have happened if Pilate had listened to his wife. We will never know. Because he didn’t.

Here are four critical justifications for listening to your wife’s input to accept her influence.

1. Her insights will most likely give you increased clarity. Women generally are more mindful of details, intuitive concerning the feelings of others, and may be in tune with certain unique aspects of a given situation. Her particular views might add a refreshing richness and depth to your perspective.

2. Accepting her influence will enhance your wisdom. I honestly wished I’d caught on to this early in our marriage. The Old Testament book of Proverbs is filled with truth about the difference between being a person of wisdom or a “fool.” As you read through the 31 chapters, you will discover a few important themes. One of the primary themes is a willingness to listen. When you and I listen to our wives, we honor her and our Creator, and we grow in wisdom. Disregard her input, and you could be acting like a fool.

3. Listening to and accepting her influence will enhance multiple levels of intimacy. Connecting through solid communication does for your marriage what breathing does for your body. When your wife is talking with you and sharing her day, she is craving a way to connect with you on multiple levels. Her need for meaningful communication is as strong as your need for sexual intimacy.

4. When you listen, you are making love to your wife. When you engage or even genuinely attempt to engage with your wife, you let her know she is loved, valued, cherished, and secure. When you can do this, she can feel drawn to you in a more profound way.