“Fix-it” Listening in Marriage

Listening AdobeStock_74715888 copyWe’re told in the Bible, “There is a time and season for everything under Heaven.” And that definitely applies when it comes to listening to what our spouse is trying to tell us. Sometimes our spouse wants us to just listen and affirm; other times our spouse wants us to listen long enough for us to “fix it.” These are two entirely different situations. Beware of applying “fix-it listening” to a time when it is best to apply “please-hear-me listening.” Let me explain…

I have to say that I’ve learned, the hard way, that I (Steve) don’t have to fix all of Cindy’s problems. Sometimes she just needs me to listen to what she is saying without interjecting a solution. This approach doesn’t have to make sense to me. But it’s what Cindy needs from me that is important. I’m her marriage partner in life. It’s my wife’s need that I’m talking about here.

I can go fix other things. There are even times when I can fix relationship stuff. But sometimes, she just needs my focused attention; and I’m the person she most often needs at those times.

Learn What’s Appropriate

“When your wife talks to you, be a listener BEFORE you’re a fixer. We men tend to want to rush ahead and ‘fix situations’ our wives talk to us about. Actually, most of the time, our wives just want us to listen to how they feel about their situation. For that reason, we should take the time to ask our wives, ‘Is this a fix-it time or learning time?’ It goes against the grain of most men to hear this. I have learned though, that listening is often one of the best ways to fix things.” (Norman Wright)

There is power in listening… healing and relationship building power.

“To learn the power of listening, you have to begin with one vow. You’ll need to rid yourself of the ‘How-can-I-get-you-to-shut-up-and-listen-to-me?’ mind-set and replace it with a ‘What-can-I-do-to-create-a-safe-place-where-understanding-can-take-root-and-grow?’ attitude.” (Gary Smalley)

Vocal Competition

Someone gave the following definition of conversation and listening. “It’s a vocal competition in which the one who is catching his breath is called the listener.” It can be that, in many marriages. But actually:

“The act of listening is a demonstration of what the Bible calls ‘dying to self.’ When it comes to communication, the acid test for understanding how ‘dead’ you are is in how well you listen, not how well you talk.” (Dallas and Nancy Demmitt) Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.(James 1:19) We’re told in Proverbs 1:5, “A wise man will hear and increase in learning…

Truly listening to, and affirming each other builds relationship bridges between you.

“Each one of us knows what it feels like when a trusted relationship is violated. It hurts when someone you love, or want to love, treats you with disrespect. A lack of listening in a relationship is both disrespectful and hurtful. When you are continually misunderstood, and you can no longer communicate with each other. Because anger and fear have built up, your relationship no longer feels safe. Listening helps you build safety and trust into your relationship. The gift of listening provides a structure for trust and grow and flourish.” (Dallas and Nancy Demmitt)

Give the Gift of Listening

It’s important to attentively listen when your spouse has a “please hear me” listening need. Don’t live with the regrets of not giving your spouse the gift of listening. Flowers are good, and so are other presents. But listening —truly tuning into what your spouse is saying, is a MUCH more valuable gift. Please don’t be like the husband that just posted under the article, Emotionally Distant Husband in the comment section. After reading the article, he wrote:

“How do you know what happened in my life? I should have listened to her.”

How tragic! Living with regrets is one of the most painful places to be. Ask your spouse and God to show you what you are to do, as far as listening, and when you are to do so. Sometimes, trying to “fix it” can cause more problems than it helps. Listen first; and then prayerfully discern if there is anything you should fix. If not, open your ears, close your mouth (except when giving affirming words), and give your full, loving attention.

May the Lord help you, and help us, in this important mission.

Steve and Cindy Wright

– ALSO –

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