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empathic listening in marriage

Do you apply empathic listening in your marriage?

We have touched on paying attention to your spouse before, and this week’s post is about empathic listening.

Have you caught yourself listening to someone (your husband/ wife) with your immediate intent being to reply, with or without empathy?

I bet you have. We are also guilty of doing this.

Over the years, we have learned to solely devote our attention to listening until the end of a statement before thinking about responding.

And when we respond, we want to do it with empathy.

We are not perfect and sometimes repeat this same mistake, but our goal is to become better at it.

Why empathetic listening?

Empathy is defined by The Free Dictionary as:

“Identification with an understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives.”

In other words, you should be trying to understand and see where your spouse is coming from.

Where they are at, and why they feel the way they do.

Simplest definition of empathic listening

Empathic listening is simply listening with empathy. It doesn’t mean you have to automatically agree with the person ( husband/wife) you are listening to.

Empathic listening means trying to understand your spouse, and putting yourself in their shoes.

By listening empathically to each other, communication in our marriage has improved in a BIG way.

Here is a great quote that will hopefully invoke some deep thought for you.

“The biggest problem in communication is we do not listen to understand…we listen to reply” – Unknown

The quote really explains empathetic listening in a nutshell. It’s a communication problem.

If you don’t learn how to communicate with your spouse, then the unity and foundation between husband and wife is non-existent, or lackluster at it’s best.

When you talk to your spouse, whether it be about the day to day stuff or a disagreement, your goal should be to listen empathically.

Then put yourself in their shoes.

Benefits of empathic listening

Listening with empathy will help you to:

» Move from being selfish to selfless.

» Speak respectfully and lovingly towards your spouse.

» Build that bond of unity all marriages need.

» Improves understanding and clarification of the subject matter being discussed or talked about.

» Increase your willingness to listen to your spouse with undivided attention while being non-judgmental.

How empathic listening can impact your marriage

When you try to open yourself up to the possibility that there may be another way of looking at things, you are setting your marriage up for success.

You will understand that your spouse has equal rights, opposing thoughts, and feelings; which instantly allows you to grow and become a better individual.

You will move from me or I to him/her or us.

From egocentric to what’s best for both of us, or even just understanding your spouse on a deeper level.

Empathic listening is essential for building emotional intimacy with your spouse. It will bring you closer together as a couple and improve communication in your marriage.

Empathic listening will also help you grow as a person and as a couple.

Lastly, you will eventually become an empathic listener; a skill that can be applied in other areas of your life.

A classic example of empathic listing

You probably have heard this statement before: Men usually listen and try to give a solution.

They try to fix every problem their wife comes to them with, whereas their wife only wants them to listen to their situation and say “I’m sorry you have to deal with that.”

There is a time and place to give solutions or listen empathically.

What works best is to make your intentions clear, “honey I just need you to listen to me, just let me vent.” Or “I need your help to find a solution to this.

Best moment to use empathetic listening

When you have a disagreement, remember, empathetic listening can go a long way.

You both have the opportunity to explain why you feel so strongly about your opinion. You also want your spouse to clearly understand your point of view.

Of course, you should make an effort to understand theirs as well!

What you don’t want to have your spouse doing is preparing to respond instead of completely listening.

Final thoughts

So what is holding you back?

The next time you have a conversation or talk with your husband/wife, try to empathetically listen to them, notice the results you get, and share them with us.

Your turn

How can you listen empathically to your spouse, friends, relatives, strangers, or co-workers?

Do you implement empathetic listening in your marriage?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image courtesy photstock / Freedigitalphotos

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