Rules for Fair Fighting: Rule #3

Rev. Deb Koster

August 30, 2018

FAIR FIGHTING RULE #3: Shut Up and Listen  

We all want to be heard, but you can’t hear when you’re talking! 

JAMES 1:19 — Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

We all want to feel that someone understands us. We want to feel that we have been heard. In fact, our need to be heard is often much greater than our need to be agreed with. 

But that probably means we talk too much. As your mother used to say, “You have two ears to listen and only one mouth to speak, so use them in that ratio!” Try less to get your point across and to convince your spouse why you are right. Rather, focus on seeing the world from your spouse’s point of view.
Can you take the lead and set an example in listening? Can you hit the pause button and tune in to the words that our spouse is speaking? Do you hear what emotion they are communicating? 

Chances are good that your spouse wants you to understand their feelings on the issue more than they want you to agree with them. Seek to listen without interruption or judgment, and seek to understand why this concern is important to your spouse.  

If you both can’t stop speaking at the same time, use an object, like a pillow, remote control, or a salt shaker, to designate whose turn it is to talk. Whoever has the object gets a turn to talk. The other’s job is to listen, trying to hear how your spouse is feeling about the issue. It is better to use a tool and reach some understanding than to interrupt and keep blaming.  

Listening can be very difficult when we feel that we are being attacked, but we grow in our connectedness as we listen to one another and carry our burdens together.

About the author — Rev. Deb Koster

Deb Koster is a producer, writer, and speaker for Family Fire. She is also an Innkeeper at The Parsonage Inn in Grand Rapids, MI where she leads marriage retreat on weekends. After over 20 years as a Registered Nurse, she completed a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained as a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church. Deb and her husband Steven enjoy doing ministry together and they are the parents of three awesome young adults.

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