Freedom From Being Ignored
Rule #7: I love you enough to really listen to your words. Try playing “I bet you can’t repeat what I just said”. When we listen, not just hear, conflicts are seldom as emotional. Honest listening often brings out honest answers. There are few greater proofs of genuine love and concern for each other than this.
There is an old expression that says, “Time is money”. In marriage, time is better than money! However, even in giving our partner our precious time, we need to commit our focused attention on the person we committed to love. Listening is the same as a true gift of love given to the other without strings attached or reluctance.
Remember there are always distractions
Human beings are deeply emotional creatures. We hear based on how we feel! If we are feeling afraid, we hear frightening things. When we feel “boxed in” we hear threats and attacks. When we feel abused, we hear people “beating us over the head” with their words. We can’t stop listening this way, but we must make every effort to listen without bringing our own distractions.
Think about listening to the car radio when you enter a tunnel
Everyone has entered a parking garage or highway tunnel and found they could no longer hear the radio station they had just been enjoying. Why? Because something very heavy had gotten in the space between the radio station and the radio antenna. In marriage the husband brings his Deepest Fear into every discussion. The wife brings her Deepest Fear as well. Those two basic human fears often cause us to think we are broadcasting loud and clear but there is no reception on the receiving end! Something very big has blocked the signal. The other partner has the same frustration. The response they expected never comes because the signal got deflected by the big thing that sets between us. It is almost like we are broadcasting and receiving on two different channels at the same time!
It helps to play the game, “I bet you can’t repeat what I just said.”
This is intended to be a very good natured way of getting us back on track in our disagreements. The rules could not be easier to understand. When one person feels that the response from their partner does not indicate that they fully understand the message that has been sent, that person says “I bet you can’t repeat what I just said.” That is not only the name of the game, it is the game! Their partner must now repeat as best they can recall what the original message had been. This is HARD! Don’t think you can simply repeat it the same way that it was said, because most of the time we filter what we hear. The sending person must be satisfied that the statement was correctly understood, or they must repeat it again; exactly like they had sent it the first time, until both sides understand the message the same way.
Learning is the Goal
Once you both play the game a few times, you will understand how frequently we fail to listen. Just listening is hard work. The goal for every argument and conflict within the marriage is that we will learn something about the other person! Listening is even more important than talking when learning is the goal. Once we have really listened, there will be plenty of time to talk about our own issues and ideas.