Have you ever had trouble communicating correctly with your husband? Have you ever been misunderstood? Have you noticed that it is actually easier to hear than it is to listen? I want to talk to you about the difference between hearing and listening. Hear that? 🙂 Hearing and listening are not the same. The goal of listening should be to understand the person who is speaking. Part of being a good listener is having a good sense of timing. There are several verses in the Bible that talk about the importance of listening and you’re not going to hear anything about hearing. Check out what has to say about listening:
James 1:19 says, “Know this, my beloved brothers, let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” In Proverbs 19:27, we read, “Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” Proverbs 5:1-2, “My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge.”
There are so many Bible verses about listening. Several years ago, my husband and I were sitting in a living room of a fellow pastor in the small town Mount Vernon, Washington. We were sharing stories of God’s work in our hearts, and mistakes that we had made in ministry, and it turns out we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. Maybe you have figured that out too. As we visited, our conversations turned to lessons we had learned, mostly through communication debacles we faced with other brothers and sisters in Christ. I had to laugh at the similarities between poor communication in friendships and poor communication in marriage. Jay and I learned early in our marriage that if we really took the time to listen to the other person our conversations go a whole lot better. Does that sound familiar to you? About 15 years ago, my husband and I began to be very intentional in the way we communicated with each other. We started repeating what we thought the other person said when we disagreed. This was a very eye-opening exercise for me… I was amazed at how many times I did not understand my husband! Half the time I would hear him, but I would not understand what he was trying to say. I heard him, but I wasn’t listening to him. This way of communicating also revealed how very differently we perceived each other. Many years ago, our friend Bill told us it’s all about “tact and timing.” He’s right! The Bible says the same thing in Proverbs 25:11: “Right words spoken in the right time are like apples of gold in a silver setting.” In other words, when you’re upset with your husband, you should really think about when you should talk to your husband about it. I can promise you that the time to criticize your husband is NOT when he walks in the door after a hard day’s work. If he’s already struggling with something that is already weighty, maybe it’s time to consider whether or not you need to bring up yet another difficult topic, or if you can bear with it a little while longer. It’s easy to rush into saying what we want to say, isn’t it? As I grow in our marriage, I’m learning it’s not always the best way. When I take the time to talk with the Lord about something that has been bothering me before I take it to my husband, He soothes my heart in a way that covers both my part in the frustration and also my husband’s. The fact is, even if your words are true, if you approach each other at the wrong time, your words will sting, instead of soothe. Here’s the thing: if your motive is to bring healing and understanding, timing really is everything. Proverbs 25:11, “Right words spoken in the right time are like apples of gold in a silver setting.” It’s all about tact and timing.