Have you ever been accused of not listening? As hard as we try to listen, we’re afraid that at times we’re both guilty of not listening. Not listening plays a big part in problem marriages. Counselors hear over and over again statements like: “He never listens to me.” or “She doesn’t understand how I feel.”

If poor listening is a sign of a troubled marriage, then good listening is a characteristic of a healthy marriage. When others say, “Hey, tell me more!” and really listen to us, we feel important, understood, and accepted.

Good listening improves relationships. Here’s an action point for you. Determine today to improve your listening I.Q. Remember these tips:

  1. Empathize; don’t criticize. Unsolicited advice may be considered criticism!
  2. Give your mate full attention when he or she is talking. Often when our mate is talking, we’re either thinking about what we’re going to say next or we’re paying attention to something else, like preparing dinner or watching TV.
  3. Listen for feelings, but don’t judge them. They are simply how your mate feels. That’s valuable information for you. Don’t say, “You can’t feel that way!” Instead, mirror back, “Did I understand, is this how you feel?. . .”
  4. Don’t interrupt, you’ll get your turn. And you can listen best with your mouth closed.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Plan the time in your schedule today to listen to the one you love.

Written by Claudia and David Arp, MSW

David and Claudia Arp, MSW, founders of Marriage Alive Seminars, are marriage educators, columnists and authors of numerous books and small group video curriculum including “The Second Half of Marriage and 10 Great Dates” (Zondervan). You can visit their website: www.marriagealive.com