November 19, 2010
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, then I am prepared to listen. If I think that 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.
If you want to have a healthy marriage, you must learn to listen. Listening leads to understanding. Once I understand what my spouse is thinking and feeling, I can have a meaningful response. When I speak before I listen, I’m simply throwing words into the wind.
May I give you a practical suggestion? When your spouse begins talking, about anything, imagine yourself having huge elephant ears. Have you heard the expression, “I’m all ears”? That’s what I’m talking about. Don’t think about how you are going to respond. Focus on making sure you understand the thoughts and feelings of your spouse. Then, when it’s your turn to talk, your spouse can put on the elephant ears.
*Adapted from Everybody Wins: Solving Conflicts Without Arguing by Dr. Gary Chapman
November 11, 2010
Communication is not easy until you have a disagreement. So, how do we process conflicts without arguing? As I was writing my book The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted, one of the great discoveries I made was the awesome power of listening. Most of us are far better at “making our point” than in “getting the point” of the other person. Listening has to do with trying to look at the world through the other person’s eyes. It’s not difficult if you try.
Once you can truthfully say, “I think I understand what you are saying, and it makes sense.” Then you can say, “Let me tell you how I’m thinking, and if it makes sense to you.” Two people who listen long enough to affirm each other can then find a win-win solution.
Arguments reveal the heart. Almost all arguments grow out of unmet emotional needs. One wife said, “Little things like getting the old newspapers out of the garage for recycling is not a big deal to him, but it is important to me because I hate clutter. It’s kind of a visual thing.” What is she saying? One of her emotional needs is to have order in the house. Clutter is emotionally upsetting to her.
The wise husband and wife will look for the emotional need behind the argument. Why is my spouse so upset over what seems trivial to me? The answer to that question will help you understand your spouse. Meeting emotional needs for each other is one way to create a positive climate for communication.