Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 19 - Slow to Speak

Know this my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
~ James 1:19 (ESV)

Sometimes it seems as though words compose my DNA. Once I'm comfortable with someone, the words just flow out of me. My husband, on the other hand, is the textbook introvert. Though a deeply loving and caring man, he needs a bit of stillness before he speaks. As a result, I have had more days than I like to admit where I get wrapped up in telling a story or detailing some project about the house and then I'm brought up short as I realize that I haven't been listening to what he has to say.

Not only does this run contrary to how God wants us to treat one another in general, but it can damage what should be the primary earthly relationship in our lives. Listening, really deeply listening to our husbands can work wonders in our marriages.

What do I mean by this?

First of all, I'm talking about the kind of listening where we actually focus on the other person and give him our undivided attention. Think about it. How many times has your husband tried to tell you about his day or talk to you about something and you're halfway listening while also checking kids' schoolwork, fixing dinner or trying to remember if you've run all the laundry yet? Undivided attention can be a hard commodity to come by in a busy household, can't it? Yet giving some of this to our husbands shows them that we respect them, we honor and love them, we treasure them and our marriages for the gifts that they are.

You've probably heard the phrase "active listening," which I've seen used in a wide variety of contexts. When I talk about listening actively to our husbands, I'm not talking about listening to him like a school lecture and taking notes. I simply mean focusing on him and making sure he knows that you're paying attention and you respect what he has to say. When we listen to our husbands, we are showing that we love them, but this is also an important way to show respect for them just as the Bible instructs us to do in Ephesians 5:33, when Paul writes, "However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."

So, how are some ways that we can actively listen to our husbands?

  • Set aside time alone with him, and ask him about his day or about things that are on his mind. Let him finish his story before interjecting any questions.
  • It's the little things that count! Things such as facing your husband or sitting by his side while you all are talking, making eye contact, nodding, or making responses (facial expressions, exclamations like, "Oh, really!" and the like) all show him that you're paying attention to him.
  • Try letting him talk to you without you being busy at something else. This one is harder than it sounds, isn't it? After all, you may have chores to do, or a book to read, or the TV may be on in the background. Still, if your husband's conversations with you are ALL getting lost in the bustle of everyday life, then he may feel like he's not getting enough of your time.
  • Keep an open mind. If your husband wants to discuss something with which you disagree or would like for you to change how you handle something, hear him out and think about what he is saying before jumping in to advocate your position. You may still disagree with him and need to discuss the matter with him, but reflexively going on the defensive can shut down a conversation rather than opening it up.
  • Be present in the conversation. Once he's finished speaking, ask your husband questions or talk to him about something that he has said. If you keep the conversation going, then he knows that you have been giving your attention to what he says.
Good listeners can be hard to come by in all areas of life, but being a good listener in a marriage can really strengthen that bond between husband and wife. I hope that this helps to bless your marriage as you go about the work of making your own joyful home!

Today's Challenge:

After reading this post, you can probably guess what today's challenge is. I want you to bring your time with your husband before God in prayer and then sit down with your husband and listen to him talk about his day, some issue that's on his mind, anything at all. The important part is that you give him your undivided attention. Set aside time where you won't be preoccupied with anything other than simply paying attention to him. If that works out well, you might want to try doing this tomorrow as well. And eventually, you may find yourself getting into the habit of doing this all the time and who knows what that might do to your marriage?

Today's Challenger:

Amy Lee Ellis has been happily married for 10 years to a wonderful man. She has worked in many capacities, and has recently embraced God's calling to a great adventure - full-time ministry in the home. She considers it a challenging adventure, and blogs about it at Making a Joyful Home. You will find her talking about homemaking, yummy recipes, good books and an amazing Savior.

Also in participation with "Women Living Well Wednesdays."

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