Do you ever wish you spouse would just listen better? Most people who have been married for longer than 10 minutes would say yes to that question. And if you’re the person thinking, “no actually, I think we listen great,” then you may want to check in with your spouse to see if they agree!
Listening is one of the most basic animal functions. Any animal in the wild is hardwired to listen extremely well because their survival often depends on it. But domesticated animals are different. They recognize the sounds of things like a food pan being rattled, or an owner’s car pulling into the garage. These are creature comforts, and when animals are taken out of the wild, what they hear/listen for shifts.
Humans are no different. When our lives (careers, marriages, money, happiness, grades, etc) depend on it, we often listen extremely well. But when we fall back into creature-comfort mode, the way we listen changes.
So how do we get our spouses to (and how do we) learn to listen better? Part of it has to do with the language we are speaking.
speak the same language
You might be saying, “But we already speak the same language!” While this may be literally true, on a deeper level we have to learn to speak to our spouses greatest needs and to do it in a way they can understand. All of us have core needs, desires, and drivers, and if we want to learn to speak in the most meaningful way possible, we have to learn to speak to those things in each other.
Some people are motivated by fear, others by shame, and still others by guilt. Some people are more image-conscious, while others are not. Many people process information with their rational thoughts, but others primarily through their emotions or their gut instincts. Some people have a strong need to avoid pain or conflict, some need to be unique, and still, others have a deep need to be against something or someone.
So do you know what your core needs are? What are your core desires and drivers? Now, what about your spouse? Odds are that you and your spouse are different, which means that when you communicate in such a way as to address your deepest needs, etc, you are probably not addressing yours. If you want to communicate…if you want your spouse to really listen, then you must learn to communicate in a “language” they can understand.
How Do You Know?
Just like with any language, you probably won’t learn it naturally if you don’t absolutely have to. Instead, you take classes and you study. The best way to learn about yourself and your spouse and what drives and motivates you is to explore the enneagram. For those unfamiliar with it, in short, the enneagram is a system that shows nine different ways that people see the world or nine different core needs of people. Each of us has a dominant one. You can get a FREE download here called “Enneagram Basics” to get started.
Learn to speak the language of your spouse’s deepest needs. Then they’ll really start listening.