5 Ways the Gift of Listening Will Benefit Your Relationship

BY: - 15 Oct '12 | Marriage

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As a seasoned clinical psychotherapist, I am blessed with a wonderful opportunity to listen to people share their joy, sorrow, pain and happiness. Over the past two years alone, I have had 1,980 client encounters and have spent over 300 hours listening to family and friends bear their hearts and souls. Within the past fifteen years, I have listened to over 20,000 people from various parts of the world.

On a regular basis I am asked, “Why do  you believe that you are blessed because you listen to others complain about their relationships, personal issues and life challenges?”

After many years of engaging in self-reflection and prayer, I have come to realize that I am blessed because God has bestowed upon me one of the most rewarding, but challenging gifts known to mankind—the divine gift of listening. In my personal opinion, I believe that time spent listening to others is time well spent. Through active listening, I assist God in blessing others by promoting and contributing to their happiness, well-being and prosperity. In sum, I am blessed because I am using my divine gift of listening to advance His kingdom.

Listening is not only a personal blessing, but it is an essential communication skill that has many benefits. From my professional assessment, I have found that listening provides the following five benefits:

1. Listening Promotes On-going Communication.  Listening opens up the door for on-going dialogue. Throughout the years, I have learned that individuals are more likely to engage in on-going dialogue if they feel that they will be afforded equal opportunity to be heard and understood. I have also learned that the quickest way to end a conversation is to talk more than I listen.

2. Listening Promotes Acceptance.  Individuals feel loved and accepted when others listen to them. Listening demonstrates genuine concern and interest. In the midst of life challenges, everyone needs someone who will listen to them.  Feeling accepted is a by-product of being listened to and understood, not chastised or judged.

3. Listening Promotes Obedience. According to the book of James 1:19-20, we are instructed to be quick to listen with our two ears and slow to speak with our one mouth. God instructs us to listen to others so that we can carefully assess their need and direct them in the right direction for help. God listens to us and instructs us to do the same so that we can be hearing aids for others. There is nothing more comforting to a person in distress than a person with a listening and nurturing heart.

4. Listening Promotes Harmony. Listening to others sets the platform for developing mutual respect, trust and understanding, which are essential ingredients for creating harmonious relationships. Also, listening enables both individuals to be heard, thus contributing to increased opportunities for successful conflict resolution.

5. Listening Promotes Personal Growth.  Prior to understanding and embracing the power of listening, I was a selfish individual who expected to be heard, respected and understood, but put forth very little effort to hear, respect and understand others. Like most individuals, I often put my needs before the needs of others. However, through active listening, I have developed the ability to hear and relate to others. This in return has led me to become a more compassionate individual. And as a result of listening to thousands of people, I have grown in ways that I would have never imaged. I now know how to hear different viewpoints and I have found balance in speaking my mind and listening with my heart.

Listening is a fundamental part of my life and should be a part of yours as well. Remember that healthy relationships are developed and sustained based on individuals’ ability to hear others. I highly recommend that you listen to others with a desire to understand them and not criticize them. Listen more and talk less and see how your relationships change for the better. Listening breathes life into people and relationships.

Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham is a renowned psychotherapist, motivational speaker, author and activist who provides individual and marital therapy to military soldiers and their families assigned to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. He recently released his newest book, “Qualified, yet Single: Why Good Men Remain Single”. Dr. Buckingham is also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of R.E.A.L. Horizons Consulting Service, LLC located in Silver Spring, Maryland. To learn more about Dr. Dwayne Buckingham visit his website at www.DrBuckingham.com. You can follow Dr. Buckingham on Twitter @DrDBuckingham.

 

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BMWK Staff wrote 1217 articles on this blog.

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Being a “Know It All” is Not Cute in Marriage

BY: - 16 Oct '12 | Home

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Does your spouse roll his/her eyes every time you make a suggestion? If yes, you may need to determine if you are giving too much unsolicited advice to your partner.  Amy Morin, LCSW, over at The Marriage Counseling Blog  says that offering too much advice to your spouse could be seen as nagging and could be harming your relationship.

 I work with a lot of people who have the best of intentions when they offer their spouse advice. However, despite their attempts to be well-meaning, it can often blow up in their face. It’s important to recognize when your advice can be helpful and when it may be harmful to the marriage.

Amy just hit the nail on the head with that one!!  Lamar and I are both guilty of this.  For me, I need a lot of work with trying to tell Lamar how to do things, as if my way of doing them is the “right” way, or the most “efficient way.”  He does not need step by step instructions on how to take care of the kids and perform tasks around the house.  He is a grown man that is perfectly capable to doing those things all on his own.

Likewise, I keep telling Lamar I am a grown woman (in my mind I am saying a  grown a– woman.)  And some of his suggestions on how to do things are frustrating. Sometimes I say: “How did I ever learn how to cross a street, drive a car, or navigate around the city in the 30 years prior to meeting you.”

Amy Morin cautions couples against offering too much advice to their partners as you could make your spouse feel like they are a child and you are the parent. Eventually all of this suggesting   nagging will lead to frustration and resentment in your relationship.

If you think this is happening in your relationship, Amy suggests the following

  • Realize that your way is not the only way to do things. Amy suggests that you stop trying to control how things are done and let your spouse do things his/her own way.
  • Stop trying to fix things for your spouse and let him/her deal with the consequences.  Stop trying to remind your spouse of their schedule or trying to plan their day for them. If your spouse forgets to do something or is late, then let him/her deal with the consequences.
  • “Change the way you deliver the message.”  Instead of starting your sentences with phrases like: “You should…”, switch it up and say things like: “What do you think about…..”

And the following things have worked well for me as I work on this very same issue in my relationship:

  • Realizing that it is exhausting trying to control things.  When I stopped trying to tell my husband how to do things and how to take care of the kids and when I stopped trying to do every thing my way  (because of course it was the right way), I felt some relief.  I let go of all of that stress and responsibility that I was actually putting on myself.  I have a perfectly good and capable husband that can take care of things.
  • Having more respect for my husband. And having faith and trust in my husband.  I married a wonderful, smart, man that is totally capable of leading his family. Treating him like a child is  disrespectful.
  • Communicating how his suggestions annoy me.  Instead of letting resentment build, take some time to discuss with your spouse how you feel.  It may not change things right away.  But eventually, your spouse may start to think (am I really helping or nagging.)
  • Realizing that my spouse  means well when he makes suggestions to me.  Now don’t get me wrong…he still annoys me with some of the suggestions.  But this helps me keep things in perspective and sometimes it helps me see that he is looking out for me.

In the end, I think communication is the key.  You  definitely  don’t want to create a situation where you and your spouse can’t tell each other anything.

BMWK family – have you dealt with this in your marriage?  Please give us some tips on how you resist the urge to be a “know it all.”  Or, how you deal with a “know it all” spouse.

 

About the author

Ronnie Tyler wrote 504 articles on this blog.

Ronnie Tyler is the co-creator of BlackandMarriedWithKids.com and co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing. The proud mom of 4 has been selected by Parenting Magazine as a Must-Read Mom and is one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Bloggers.

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