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How to Get Your Spouse to Listen to You

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How do you get your spouse to listen to you? What’s the best way to navigate through conflict with your husband or wife? You can take any area that you need to talk about and follow these seven steps to get your spouse to listen to you.

1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME

Eccl. 8:6 (MSG) "There's a right time and way for everything." 

Timing is everything in communication.

We can have a great message, but give at the wrong time, and it will fall flat on ears that don't hear it. We've got to time our message. We have to find a time when they're not tired. We must pick a time when they're not frustrated. Don’t pick a time when they are ready to go to bed. You don't drop a bomb on your husband or your wife just as you're getting into bed or walking out the door.  

Bad timing equals fireworks. So, we need to ask, “what is the best time to bring this up?” “What is going on in their world right before and right after this conversation?”

2. PLAN THE PRESENTATION

Proverbs 16:23 "From a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive."  

Planning produces persuasion.

On a major family conference, we need to first plan our introduction: How am I going to bring this subject up? Then, What examples am I going to use when I present my case?

How we introduce a subject, a touchy subject in particular, can make or break communication.  

We need to plan a way to introduce the subject.  And we need to plan our illustrations. Have some examples, some "for instances."

3. BEGIN WITH HIS OR HER NEEDS

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) "Speak only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

If we want to capture our spouses attention we need to start with their needs, their hurts, their goals, their interests. If you do this, you'll guarantee an audience.

Communication flows when we show interest in their needs, their goals, their hurts, their interests.  Communication is blocked when all we care about is our own needs. So, we start with their needs, their agenda.

4. LISTEN FIRST

We’ve got to be willing to hear them out first before we talk about it.  Why? Communication is a dialogue. It’s a two-way street.

Proverbs 18:13 "Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish."

Have you ever been so anxious to make a point that you had absolutely no idea what the other person just said?

We get so caught up in making our point that we're not listening at all. We're only thinking about what we're going to say next. Listen before you answer.  

James 1:19 "Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry."  

5. YOU SAY IT POSITIVELY

Never type-cast yourself as simply the teller of bad news in the family.  Never be the one who is known as always saying, "We've got a problem."

There's a lot of negatives in any marriage. What do you do?  Ignore them?  No.  Pretend they don't exist? No.  Hide them under the carpet?  No.  What do you do?  We have to learn to say it positively.  

Be realistic about the problem and yet be positive about it at the same time.

"I believe God can give us the power." I'm realistic, and I recognize there is an issue here, but I'm optimistic because I believe with God's help all things are possible. That's what it means to live by faith.

Be realistic and optimistic at the same time.

Proverbs 16:21 "The wise are known for their understanding, pleasant words are persuasive."  

I'm never persuasive when I'm abrasive. The more pleasant our words the more persuasive we become. The most positive speaker is the most persuasive speaker.

It's our choice. Put up with the bad and focus on the good instead of focusing all the time on what we want to change. Say it positively.

6. CLARIFY YOUR CONCLUSIONS

After we've talked it out, we need to summarize what we've said, recap it and restate what we've decided on as a result and restate what we have not decided on. Get very clear about it.

Philippians 4:2 “Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement."  

Agree with what you agree about and clarify what you're still having disagreements about.  

Vagueness causes problems. We need to make specific statements.  

A vague statement is, "I want you to come home early."  What is early?
Specific: “I want you home before 8pm.”

Vague:  "I hit a sale today."
Specific:  "Don't try to use the Visa card; it's over the limit."

Be specific. Don't drop hints. Your husband/wife is not a mind reader. When you come to a conclusion, clarify it.

7. END WITH AN ENCOURAGING WORD

Proverbs 12:25 "An encouraging word cheers a person up."  

Exit lines are important. End on a high note.  

Even if you had a very heated discussion, you need to conclude the conversation by reaffirming three things:

  • Reaffirm your commitment to the marriage.  

"I want you to know that right now, even though I can't stand the sight of you, I'm committed to you and to making this marriage work. I'm irritated, mad, upset, disappointed, but I'm committed to making the marriage work."    

  • Reaffirm your love for your mate.  

Love is a choice. Can you be angry and love somebody at the same time? You bet. Love is commitment.

  • Reaffirm a sense of optimism that God is going to help you out and you're making progress.  

“I'm committed to the fact that I believe with God's help we can make this thing work.”

I'm not suggesting that every time you talk you need to go through these seven steps. Save this for the heavy weight issues in your marriage.

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