Category: Listening

The Attitude of Listening

When two people are talking at the same time, no one is listening. Consequently, there is no communication. For conversation to be meaningful, it requires talking and listening. How hard can that be? Yet, 87% of those who divorce say their main problem was that they could not communicate. Listening begins with an attitude. If I choose to believe that every person I encounter is made in God’s image; that their thoughts and feelings are important, than I am prepared to listen. If I think the world revolves around me; that my ideas are all that counts, then why should I listen to anyone else? Many couples don’t have a communication problem, they have an attitude problem.

Listening our Way to Love

Ask any group of people, such as friends or co-workers, “When do you feel loved?” and the answer will likely include something about listening. When people listen, we feel worthwhile and valued. Listening is hard when trying to start a love relationship, because we’d rather try to impress. Yet listening is one of the strongest ways to say, “I love you.”

Jesus’ example in this startles us. Why the God-man with all the answers would wait to hear our questions is provocative. But that’s just what Jesus did with the woman at the well. Though he knows immediately the answer to her need, he asks a question, listens, and waits for her response (see John 4). Why? Perhaps it is because, in knowing all things, he understands that his listening heart will be partly responsible for her healing.

Continue reading article by Marty Trammell and Rich Rollins >>

Knowing How to Love Your Spouse

If your spouse often criticizes you for not “helping them”, they may be telling you that ‘acts of service’ is their love language. People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need. Their criticism is an ineffective way of pleading for love. If you understand this, you might respond more positively to their criticism. You might say, “It sounds like that is really important to you. Could you explain why it is so crucial?” Initiating such a conversation may eventually turn the criticism into a request rather than a demand. When you hear criticism, it’s time to listen. Your spouse is giving you valuable information about what would make them feel loved.

Recognizing Fault

In all of my counseling, I have never met a perfect husband or a perfect wife. Yet, when there is a problem, we tend to blame the other person. I have often given individuals a sheet of paper and asked them to list the faults of their spouse. They make long and impressive lists. Then I ask them to list their own faults. Seldom has anyone come back with more than four. What does this tell us? That the spouse really is the problem? Hardly, for each spouse has a grand list of the other’s faults. It tells us that we have become accustomed to our faults, and they don’t seem so big.

Remember the words of Jesus, before you try to get the speck out of your mate’s eye—behold the beam in your own eye. Personal confession is the first step in improving a marriage.

Negotiating Solutions

“Ignore it and it will go away?” Is that your philosophy? If so, your relationships will never be authentic. In healthy relationships, people must talk about the things that irritate them. They must seek to negotiate solutions which will respect their differences. Put your head in the sand, and your problems will get worse. Speak the truth in love and you can solve your problems. Don’t change the subject when your spouse brings up a topic that you think will start an argument. Simply ask, “Do you want us to share our ideas and look for a solution? If so, I’m willing to talk. If we are simply going to argue, I don’t have the energy to do that. If we can respect each other’s thoughts I think we can find an answer.” This is the way to build healthy relationships.

Do’s and Don’ts of Depression

If you know someone who is depressed, let me give you some Do’s and Don’ts. First the Do’s: encourage them to go for counseling. Let them know that if they want to talk, you want to listen. Look for life-threatening symptoms such as suicidal talk or actions. Inform the counselor of such talk or actions. Invite them to do things with you. And pray for them daily. Now the don’ts: Don’t tell them that they have nothing to be depressed about. Don’t tell them to snap out of it. Don’t tell them that the problem is spiritual. Don’t tell them that the problem stems from their past failures. With proper help your friend or family member can work through depression and be able to move toward independence.

Struggle With Anger?

Let’s be honest, many of us have never learned to handle anger positively. Our responses to anger in the past have always made things worse. Some people deny that they have an anger problem. Margaret was a screamer. She prided herself in “speaking her mind”. She justified her tirades until the day her daughter left her the following note. “Dear Mom, I won’t be home tonight. I can’t take your screaming anymore. I don’t know what will happen to me, but at least I won’t have to hear all the nasty things you say to me when I don’t do everything you want.” Margaret read the note, cried, and called her pastor, who in turn helped her find a Christian counselor. Don’t wait until you get a note – reach out for help.

Getting Facts before Acting on Anger

When you are angry – be sure to get the facts before you take action. You hear your spouse tell someone on the phone, “I’ll be there tomorrow night.” You know that tomorrow night is your date night, so you get angry. Before you storm in and say something harsh, take time to ask: “Did I hear you promise someone to do something tomorrow night?” Your spouse says, “Yes, I told mom I’d bring her blanket by. I thought we could do it either before or after we go out to eat.” Your anger subsides because you took time to “get the facts.” Often we jump to conclusions about what someone said or did and in anger we accuse them. We mess up a perfectly good evening because we failed to ask questions.

Loving “Argumentative” Teens

Adolescence is the age of reason. Teenagers are beginning to think logically. We say, they are argumentative. Many parents have said through the years, “I think my teenager is going to be an attorney, he is so good at arguments.” In reality, the teen is developing his mental skills. If parents don’t realize this, they can create an adversarial relationship where the teen does not feel free to flex his intellectual muscles. How do we create a positive atmosphere where we can have meaningful dialogue with our budding philosopher? In one word – love. When the teen feels loved, he still may not agree with parents, but he will respect them; and be influenced by their opinions.

Differences with Your Teenager

Do you ever get frustrated with your teenager? The teenager has a strong pull toward independence and is going through radical physical and emotional changes. They are greatly influenced by their peers. In fact, we often speak of ‘teenage culture’. That culture focuses on music, dress, language, and behavior. This has often created a great divide between teens and parents. So, at a time when the teen most needs moral and spiritual guidance, parents are often rejected. Don’t allow your differences to keep you from loving your teen. Love keeps the door open for your positive influence. Learn your teens’ love language and speak it daily. They never outgrow their need for love.

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