I have only ever posted articles written by women for women. However, this is a guest article written by dear blogging friends, Patrick & Ruth Schwenk, who recently wrote together their new book For Better Or For Kids! Patrick is sharing wise words about marriage that are a reflection of the rich content found in their new marriage book. Please spend a moment to read this article with your husband and then chat about it afterward!
I was busted recently.
It wasn’t what I was caught with; it was what I was caught without – valuable information my wife (Ruth) had just shared with me.
I started out strong. As we were talking, Ruth was giving me dates for when she was going to be out of town in September, who was coming to watch the kids while I was at work, and….? This is roughly where I stopped listening. It was a slow fade, but enough to lose our connection.
At some point, it became clear by her body language, we had reached a place in our discussion that required my response. Fumbling to piece together enough of what I had heard, it became clear I was in trouble!
“You weren’t listening, were you?” she asked. I was busted. After almost 18 years of marriage, I’ve learned by now that a good defense is no defense at all. A good admission of guilt was all I had to offer!
If you have been married for any length of time, you know listening can be difficult. Add a few kids in the mix, smartphones, busy schedules, the T.V., and listening, well, can feel nearly impossible. We don’t often think of listening as an act of loving, but it is.
To turn your ear is to turn your heart in love toward your spouse.
This is what God does for us. The Bible reveals a God who not only speaks, but a God who listens. He stops. He hears. He turns his affection toward us by turning His attention toward us. God loves by listening. As we “image” Him in marriage, we are reminded that God desires for us to not only speak to one another in love, but to listen to one another in love.
Here are a few simple and practical ways to love your spouse by listening to your spouse:
Be a humble listener. Pride not only makes us blind, it can make us deaf too. Humility listens
long before speaking. It enables us to hear and understand where our spouse is coming from. When we listen humbly, we are putting our spouse, not ourselves, at the center of a conversation.
Be an undistracted listener. While the ability to multitask is often impressive, when it comes to listening to your spouse, multitasking should be avoided. Life with kids in the house is busy and full of distractions. Listening well requires us to stop or slow down. Turn off the e-mail. Put away the phone. Shut down the computer. Wait until the kids are in bed so that your spouse can be the focus of your undivided attention.
Be an inquisitive listener. An inquisitive listener is someone who not only comprehends what is being said but cares about what is being said. This doesn’t mean you love everything your spouse loves. It is unlikely for a wife to love football the way her husband does or for a husband to love Pinterest the way his wife does. It does mean
you value what is important to your spouse and actively engage in listening to your spouse. Asking questions as you listen is a great way to show your interest in what your spouse values.
In marriage, listening is about far more than exchanging information – it’s about developing and deepening intimacy with your spouse. Even with kids in the house, loving your spouse by listening to your spouse is possible!
Patrick and Ruth Schwenk
Patrick Schwenk is a husband, father, and pastor. Ruth Schwenk is a wife, mom, and blogger. She is the coauthor (with Karen Ehman) of Hoodwinked: Ten Myths Moms Believe & Why We All Need to Knock It Off and Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet with Jesus. She and her husband are the creators of FortheFamily.org and TheBetterMom.com. Patrick and Ruth have been married for more than seventeen years, have four children, and have been in full-time ministry for over fifteen years. They live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Their first book together, For Better or For Kids: A Vow to Love Your Spouse with Kids in the House just released!
At some point, a loving, hopeful, and energetic married couple find themselves in a minivan loaded with kids and littered with Cheerios, crusty sippy cups, and dark banana peels. Amidst a baffling array of new sounds, different smells, unpredictable schedules, competing preferences, and unusual demands, you can’t help but think, What just happened? We are in way over our heads!
For Better or For Kids is a book packed full of our personal stories of marriage and parenting over the last 18 years, practical help and biblical wisdom that will enable couples to:
- Build a God-centered marriage instead of a Child-centered or Me-centered marriage
- Avoid the dangers of spouse-neglect and self-neglect
- Effectively communicate in the chaos
- Explore ways to parent together as one team
- Find balance in the busyness
- And soooo much more!
For Better or For Kids is about taking a new vow. A vow to love your spouse with kids in the house. It is possible to have a loving and intimate marriage regardless of the season of life you find yourself in and we want to show you how! Grab your copy today at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook or anywhere books are sold.