Gospel Centered Marriage
Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication - Part 2
We often miss the power of common things. Being at a little league game doesn’t seem like a big deal until you hear an adult lament, “My father never came to any of my games.” We often only fully appreciate the significance of small things our spouse does after they pass away and “life feels so empty now.” When we look back at the people who most shaped our lives, it usually because of their presence and care in ordinary moments rather than great actions or profound words.
Listening is another common thing which often has a power that few people realize. Consider the power of listening represented in this quote by C.S. Lewis on humility.
“Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all (p. 128).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Because all we get to do as infants and children (or so it seemed at the time) is “listen to big people,” we tend to view speaking as the mature, powerful, and significant part of communication. We think listening is for the weak or immature person who lacks influence of the ability to contribute. If we applied this same logic to nutrition we would thing that eating fruits and vegetables was a sign of weakness.
An overlooked implication of devaluing listening is how we think about prayer. With a low view of listening, we “grade” God based on how He responds to our request, while missing the great honor that the Creator would be omni-available to our moment-by-moment thoughts and concerns. Yes, God answers prayer, but let’s not skip over the reality that we are never alone and we are always understood. Similarly, let’s respond to what our spouse says (in word and action), but let’s never minimize the power of listening to remind our spouse we are with them “in good times and in bad” striving to understand/share their joys and sorrows.
In this chapter we will seek to elevate our value of listening and increase our capacity to unleash its power to enrich our marriages. We will do this in three sections: (1) How Not to Listen, (2) Types of Listening, and (3) How to Listen.