Did you know that 90 percent of marriage is spent calling out, “Whaaaat” from the other room? (Did you also know you can’t believe everything you read online?) All kidding aside, I can relate to this comical statement. A few years ago, we downsized to a small house with an open floor plan which means that if you have sharp hearing, you can easily have a conversation with someone in the next room. I have found myself many times talking to my husband across the house. Some might consider this an amenity, but I can assure you our teenage daughter, Madi, whose bedroom is the upstairs loft, does not. She “suffers” from a condition known as Misophonia. The literal definition of the term is “hatred of sound” but there are varying levels to what some call a “condition” or others, “a neurological (or mental) disorder!”
Those who have this issue cannot stand little noises such as clicking, tapping, slurping, chomping or even the sound of breathing coming from those in close proximity! There have been times when I am in our kitchen eating chips and salsa and Madi yells down, “I can hear the chips crunching!” Since I’m the one creating the sounds they don’t bother me but, to my monophonic daughter, normal every day noises are like fingernails on a chalkboard. I used to tease her and say I feel like a prisoner in my own home held captive by the Sound Nazi, but I have come to understand this is a real thing so I’m more aware of triggers and try not to needlessly set her off.
No matter what type of hearing you have, whether is supersonic or super dull, listening is an important part of any marriage. Think about it, listening is half of communication and talking makes up the other fifty percent. However, God did give us two ears compared to only one mouth, so I wonder if He was implying that we need to listen more than we talk!? At any rate, a spouse who listens to a need is a wonderful spouse, indeed. That person understands that listening is a relational tool designed to help build a marriage and when you “listen to learn” you impart value to the other person.
When you speak, you are relaying information you already know, but listening is how you acquire new insight. A spouse who is a good listener is always seeking to learn something about the other person whether it’s the way they think, feel or what they like. One afternoon my husband came home and tossed a Hershey bar in my lap. My eyes lit up as I looked at him quizzically. He just shrugged and said, “I heard you say earlier as your head was stuck in the pantry, “I wish there was some chocolate in here.” I can honestly say my heart melted faster than the chocolate in my mouth!
Don’t just take it from me. Try it yourself. In the next few days, listen to learn and see what happens. Although, If I would have known my husband was listening, I might have searched in the pantry for a diamond necklace instead!
“My brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak…” James 1:19