We all have them; bad habits that is. Some influence how hard we work, others affect how neat we keep our space, yet others completely alter our relationships and marriages. The habits that affect our marriage is where I’d like to focus. Being in a relationship requires certain behaviors from both people involved. How we speak, handle our anger and show affection, all have the potential to make or break our partnership. We’re all clear on the impact communication or a lack of communication has on our lives. However, how we speak is only a small percentage of effective communication. Yes, whether or not we raise our voice and being selective with the words we choose are each important, but how we listen should be at the top of any effective communication list.
I’ll be the first to admit, it’s challenging to listen when our tempers are flaring and we just want to lash out. Nevertheless, I have seen relationships transform just by using the gift of listening. Listening is a gift and if you are unsure whether or not you possess it, check out these bad listening habits we should all avoid.
1. Do you talk while your spouse is talking? I could say shame on you, but the truth is you’re not alone. We can get so heated during our disagreements it becomes quite difficult to just shut up. Effective communication means someone will have to sit quietly and just listen to what’s being said.
2. Do you finish your partner’s sentences? Couples can get pretty comfortable within a relationship. So much so, we think we can interrupt our partner’s thoughts and get them to their point quicker by completing their statements. This behavior doesn’t work. It causes frustration, which makes coming to a solution that much more difficult. Everyone wants to speak their peace without interruption. When we communicate with others we have to think about how we’d like to be listened to. It’s usually the same for most adults.
3. Do you tune out until it’s your turn to share what’s on your mind? If so, how will you ever know what your spouse needs? We can learn so much about our partners just by totally listening. If we listen carefully enough, we can even learn from what’s not being said.
4. Are you doing something else while your partner is speaking (on a phone, watching TV, listening to a radio)? This was my bad listening habit. I didn’t realize how frustrating this was to my husband. People want undivided attention when they speak. Completely listening to someone confirms that they matter to us.
The great thing about bad habits is that with a lot of effort and desire to change, we can break them. We have to realize our spouse and marriage are worth that sacrifice.