I hate to admit it, but my hearing is not what it used to be. More and more, conversations between my wife and I are starting to sound like comedy sketches or the transcripts from nursing home conversations. It goes something like this…
Wife: “Where did you put my pen?”
Me: “What do you mean, ‘where have you been?’ I’ve been right here.”
Wife: “I said, where is my pen.”
Me: “Yeah, I’ve seen your pen.”
Wife: “So, where is it?”
Wife: “Would you turn down the TV and help me find my pen?”
Me: “I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear you for the TV.”
It goes down hill from there.
How did this happen? How did I become the guy who’s always looking blankly and saying, “Huh?”
- Maybe it comes from all those years of playing ear-splitting guitar in a rock band.
- May it comes from years of working around loud equipment in the oil field.
- Maybe it has something to do with an increase in the number of people and things trying to get my attention.
- Or maybe it’s just the natural effects of aging.
All I know is the older I get, the harder it is to hear things clearly, and the harder it is to separate the extraneous noise from the thing or person I truly want to hear.
As my hearing gets worse, I find I need to…
- Reduce the extraneous noise, if possible. Turn down the TV. Go to quieter restaurants. Sit closer to the person who’s talking. Position myself if the middle of things, if there’s a group of people. All of these things can help me filter out extraneous noise.
- Focus on what I’m trying to hear. Put down the electronics. Sit with my back to the TV. Take a seat in the restaurant that is facing away from the door. These things will help minimize the distractions and improve my focus.
- Face the person I’m talking to. I’ve shared this before, but a good friend of mine is fond of telling children, “I need you to listen to me with your face.” Facing the person talking will not only help me hear them better, it will also help me pick up on non-verbal clues in their communication.
- And if needed, swallow my pride and admit I didn’t hear. I can simply say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you. Could you please repeat that?”
If we’re not careful, we can lose our hearing in marriage. I’m not talking about “selective hearing,” where you choose what you want to listen to and what you don’t. (Not like any of us do that!) I’m talking about an increased difficulty in clearly and carefully hearing your spouse.
How do you know when that’s happening? A good clue is when you find your spouse getting frustrated and saying things like:
- “Did you hear what I said?”
- “Are you listening to me?”
- “That’s not at all what I said! Are we even having the same conversation?!”
When this starts happening in you marriage, you should do what I have to do when I’m having trouble hearing.
- Reduce the extraneous noise. Cut out anything that is distracting you from fully hearing your spouse. You may need to turn off the TV, turn off the cell phone or send the kids to the other room, but do whatever you need to do to give your spouse your full attention.
- Focus on what you need to hear. It’s not enough to be able to parrot back their words while you’re doing something else. You need to focus on the feelings and reasons behind the words. You need to focus hearing more than just their words. You need to focus on hearing their heart.
- Face your spouse when they’re talking. And I’m not talking about just turning toward them while giving them that glazed-over, I’ve-gone-somewhere-else-in-my-mind look. I’m talking about seeing the expressions on their face while you listen to their heart. This, in and of itself, will go a long way to improving your marriage.
- Ask for clarification if you missed something. If you don’t know where they’re going with something, or what they’re trying to say, then tell them, “Honey, I love you, but I’m having trouble following you.” Or, “I’m sorry. I was distracted. Tell me again, so I can really understand.” (Yeah, I know it may not sound like something you would say, but maybe that’s part of the problem.)
These are simple things, but these simple things can go a long way toward improving your hearing in marriage, and it’s cheaper than seeing an audiologist…or an attorney.
So now that you know what to do, you should go out there and do it…unless you weren’t listening.
Be honest. Do you hear your spouse as well as you should? What is it that hinders you from really hearing your spouse? What’s one thing you could start doing on a regular basis that would improve how well you hear your spouse?
Copyright © 2017 Bret Legg