Dear Dr. Buckingham,
My husband and I are going through some things, and I do not know what to do. We argue on a regular basis because both of us feel invalidated. I often tell my husband that he does not listen to me, and he tells me the same thing.
To be honest, I grew up in a house where my three older brothers would shut me down, so I never really learned how to communicate well. I never felt like I had a voice growing up. Now that I am an adult, I do not hesitate to express my thoughts.
I try very hard to keep communication open with my husband, but our marriage is suffering. I thought it was good to tell people how you feel, especially people close to you. I am lost for words and do not know how to get through to my husband.
He criticizes me for nagging and not understanding him. I love him to death, but we are not getting along. What can I do to improve my communication with my husband?
Mrs. Lost for Words
Dear Mrs. Lost for Words,
The best thing that you can do to improve your communication with your husband is listen to him. In my personal opinion, I believe that time spent listening to others is time well spent. Believe it or not, listening is a gift and blessing. It does not take much to express our thoughts, but listening requires one to be patient and compassionate. I often remind people that God created us with two ears and one mouth, which means that we should listen more and talk less.
Listening is an essential communication skill that has many benefits. From my personal and professional assessment, I have found that listening provides the following five benefits:
- 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. Listen to your husband in order to keep the communication going.
- Listening Promotes Acceptance and Validation
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.
- Listening Promotes Obedience
According to the Bible (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 needs. 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 ear and nurturing heart.
- Listening Promotes Harmony
Listening to your husband can set the platform for developing mutual respect, trust and understanding, which are essential ingredients for creating harmonious relationships. Also, listening to your husband enables both of you to be heard, thus contributing to increased opportunities for successful conflict resolution.
- Listening Promotes Personal Growth
Listening enables you to grow personally. Hearing and processing different viewpoints can expand your thinking and understanding. This, in return, can help you become a more compassionate individual. Learn how to hear your husband, so that you can balance speaking your mind and listening with your heart.
Listening is a fundamental part of life and should play a vital part in your marriage. Remember that healthy relationships are developed and sustained based on an individual’s ability to hear others. I highly recommend that you listen to your husband with a desire to understand him. Listen more and talk less, and see how your relationship change for the better. Listening breaths life into relationships.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.