I was sitting with my wife, Sandy, and listening to her talk. She was moving from one topic to another faster than I could keep up. About 10 minutes into our conversation, I suddenly lost track of what she was saying and zoned out.
I knew I was in trouble when I heard Sandy say, "Are you listening to me?" I covered my internal panic by calmly replying, "Of course I'm listening to you." Sandy then uttered those five terrifying words: "What did I just say?"
I couldn't tell her because, well, I wasn't listening. I spent the next 20 minutes apologizing for not paying attention and for lying about it. Not pretty. And not fair to Sandy.
Guys, I'm guessing you may have found yourself in a similar situation from time to time. And you know that when you space out, it's not necessarily because you're bored or disinterested; you're just wired differently than your wife. But if you don't listen effectively to your wife, she might not feel loved by you. She could feel frustrated, hurt and rejected. Fortunately, there are practical things you can do to stay focused while your wife is talking.
3 strategies for better listening
Schedule 30-minute "couple talk times" three times a week.
Have these conversations in a private, quiet place in your home — just the two of you. No kids, no pets, no phones and no TV. Without distractions, you can genuinely listen to the most important person in your life.
Actively listen by using reflection.
Respond by including key words and phrases your wife has used concerning content (what she is saying) and emotion (how she is feeling about what she is saying). By doing this, she will feel heard and not just listened to.
Process what she says and respond.
Take note of one or more topics from all she shares, think about them and give her a response at the next couple talk time. By sharing what you think and feel about these topics, you'll show real interest in her and you can take your communication to a deeper level.Dr. David Clarke is an author and licensed psychologist who presents marriage seminars and leads marriage intensives. His most recent book is Honey, We Need to Talk.