By bro Lee Tian Seng
Listening is the key to building a healthy and loving marriage relationship. It is not more talking or doing, though these acts have their part to play. When you do not listen, you do not understand your spouse and show care for him or her. What good can more talking and doing do if you do not understand and care for your spouse?
James 1:19 - So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
The Bible teaches us that we should be “swift to hear” and “slow to speak”. The scripture here warns of offence when we speak too much but there is advantage in listening more.
Many misunderstandings and quarrels can be avoided if one learns to listen patiently. We need to listen attentively, actively and accurately.
There are many distractions that hinder us from listening to our spouse attentively. One of them is busyness. When you are so occupied with work or tasks, you just have no time and become too stressed to listen. The other distraction is our digital devices (e.g. tablet, PC or mobile phone). When we are too occupied answering messages, responding to a social media post or playing games, we end up with little time to listen. We could also be too self-absorbed or self-centred. When we keep thinking of our needs and problems, we do not have time to listen to other’s needs and problems. We need to “be still” and pay attention to others and to God.
Psalms 46:10 - Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
The most caring act one can do is to listen actively when your spouse is talking. When you are fully present listening and responding verbally and non-verbally to your spouse, he or she will feel loved. Active listening shows that we acknowledge and validate the other person’s concerns and feelings. When we do this, our understanding of the other person increases and we have better communication. When Jesus spoke a parable, he would remind the audience to “hear” or listen so that they can understand.
Matthew 13:9 - He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
If you really want to understand your spouse’s inner feelings and resolve a conflict, you need to listen accurately. By listening accurately, I mean that you listen and understand the content, observe the body language and feel the emotion of what is spoken. If we could, try to be that person. Consider what if you were your spouse. How is it like? That way, you can empathise with your spouse and learn more about him or her. How much do you know your wife or husband? God knows us so intimately that He sees our needs even before we ask Him in prayer.
Matthew 6:8 - Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
When we start listening attentively, actively and accurately, we will understand our spouses better and our marriage relationship will surely improve.