Read: “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19
A big step toward learning how to handle conflict well within the context of marriage is by learning to listen well. When we listen, we’re able to understand where our partner is coming from, and we are able to take the time to respond as Christ does with love and grace. Ready to learn how to listen well? Here are seven things to work on:
1. Show that you are listening with your non-verbals.
Make eye contact. Put away your phone. Show that you’re really paying attention.
2. Don’t use logic to overpower feelings.
Men, this is a big one for you. When your wife is saying she feels this way about a certain issue, and that way about a different situation, she is NOT looking for a solution. She’s looking for you to listen as she processes how she feels.
3. Don’t debate.
Sometimes, it’s ok to not respond. Instead of having a rebuttal for everything your spouse says, take time to fully listen before responding.
4. Don’t interrupt.
If you’re interrupting, you’re not listening. Even if you have to spend some of your listening time actually praying for patience, let your spouse have their say.
5. Don’t leave prematurely.
Sometimes, taking a little time alone can be healthy. But if you’re leaving an argument early just to avoid the situation, it helps no one.
6. Don’t speak negatively or complain about your spouse to your friends.
Ladies, this includes complaining about your spouse to your mom. When we spend time complaining to others, first, it tears down our spouse instead of building them up. Second, it can allow well-intentioned family and friends to hold grudges on our behalf long after we’ve moved on.
7. Avoid uninviting or distant body language.
Are your arms crossed? Do you have a smirk on your face? Are you rolling your eyes? Both mind and body should show that you’re open to finding a resolution to the conflict at hand.
Conflict is a part of marriage. But, through marriage, God takes two broken, sinful people and invites them into a place of deep honesty, intimacy, and ultimately, a stronger relationship with Him.
Pray: God, help me really embrace your truth that I have been called to listen. When conflict comes, let me handle it in a way that brings glory to You, and that brings my relationship with my spouse closer together. In Jesus’ name, Amen.