Listening Is The Key To Good Communication

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As a pastor for more than 32 years, I have participated in my fir share of weddings as well as having had the pleasure of counseling many couples. I am a big fan or marriage – when it’s right. But getting it right can be as difficult as baking a soufflé in a wood-burning stove.

This year (September 2008), marriage takes on new significance in my life. I celebrate 26 years of marriage to my beautiful wife, Serita, and I also will see my youngest daughter marry. For my wife and me, it is a celebration of survival against many odds. But for my daughter and her fiancé, it’s the beginning of an expedition filled with wonderment and warnings, amorous connections and deeply spiritual contemplations.

  • While I have cause to celebrate marriage, most do not. The statistics say it all: percentage of population that is married: 59 percent (down from 62 percent in 1990, 72 percent in 1970); percentage that is divorced: 10 percent (up from 8 percent in 1990, 6 percent in 1980).

    Marriage failure is more common and it is not isolated to any one social or economic class. One can enjoy professional success and still fail miserably in marriage. Financial struggles have always been leading causes of divorce, but when you add the current economic climate, filled with unemployment, home foreclosures, vehicle repossessions, and insurmountable credit card debt, maintaining a successful marriage takes on a different dynamic. Economic instability can lead to erosion in eroticism and wreak mayhem in marriage.

    Communication is important in a relationship, but what I find is that is not that couples don’t communicate – they don’t listen. It is not enough to tell people to communicate when they don’t know how to listen. Let me share five tips that will help you become a better listener and a better mate.

    Listen With Your Ears

    Sometimes when we discuss things as important, passionate and personal as money, child-raising and sex, while the mate is talking, we are not listening but preparing our argument. We must listen with our ears and shut down the desire to immediately defend our position. The ears work better when windpipes are closed.

    Listen With Your Mind

    Words come from the speaker’s background and perspective. Many times words are based on a point of reference that you may not be aware of. So don’t just listen to their words, but listen with your mind, understand where they came from and what they went through.

    Listen With Your Heart

    Many times words do not convey what’s in the heart; so when you listen, heat what is said but also what is meant. Compassion is a critical part of understanding. It is difficult to love people without understanding them. Love seeks to understand. Listening with your heart will take away your natural propensity to be selfish.

    Listen With Humility

  • I often will repeat what has been said to make sure I heard the speaker correctly. Make sure you understand your mate clearly. Half of the ways in the home start from misunderstanding. Many times couples are angry over what they thought they other meant and not what was intended. Humility is a hearing aid and saves the soul the expense of the apology later.

    Listen With Prayer.

    It is critical to know that everything about your companion cannot be worked out with the assistance of God. During disagreements in relationships, many become frustrated because they want to fix what is wrong with their spouse. However, the repair comes from the manufacturer, God himself, and not from man. So prayer to God to help what ails your relationship is always the key. If men and women speak different languages, and they do, then try asking God to teach you the love language of the person you married. Too many times I have found that one of you is saying what the other desperately needs to hear, but it is being said in a foreign love language.

    Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of the 30,000-member Potter’s House in Dallas, is also a successful, best-selling author.

    Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 Dating & Romance