Listening is not really a skill that comes naturally to anyone. If you’ve been around children, or have them yourself, you know that you have to teach children to listen to you because otherwise, they’re just going to do what they want to do.
The same is true of adults. Most of us are so focused on our own thoughts, our own problems, our busy schedule, that we have a bad habit of not really listening to people when they speak to us. Not only is this rude, but it damages relationships.
There are two people we need to listen to the most and usually end up listening to the least if we don’t practice and allow God to change us.
First, we need to listen to God. Listening to God is probably one of the hardest skills to learn because He doesn’t speak audibly – at least, I’ve never heard of Him doing so, not since Jesus walked the earth. When God speaks it is usually in your mind, a still small voice. But it can be very challenging to discern His voice from your own or even the enemy’s voice who whispers in your ear throughout the day.
Second, we need to listen to our husbands. If you were to rank the people in your life (not that I suggest you do) then God should always be first but your husband should be second – above your kids, above your parents, above your siblings, above your friends, above yourself. God says that when we get married the two shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:24). One flesh means that we are basically one person now. So, if we need to listen to anyone it is our husband.
One of the main skills we need if we want to become better listeners is called active listening.
Psych Central says this about active listening: Active listening is all about building rapport, understanding, and trust. By learning the skills below, you will become a better listener and actually hear what the other person is saying — not just what you think they are saying or what you want to hear.
They list some skills you can learn and I highly recommend reading through them, but they aren’t the point of this blog post. Instead, I want to talk about why it’s so important to listen to both God and to others, especially our husbands.
Why Should We Listen to God?
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27)
The Bible is a wonderful tool and it is God’s love letter to us, but it can’t tell us everything. It can’t help us make every decision. I know that sounds almost like sacrilege, but hear me out.
Let’s say you aren’t married yet and you want to get married. You start dating a nice guy. Now, the Bible will tell you to marry someone who is a Christian (2 Cor. 6:14), so that’s very important. But let’s say that you know he is a Christian, a good Christian guy. However, you still aren’t totally certain if he’s the right guy for you. Maybe you’ve met several good Christian guys in your small group or at your church and you’re pretty interested in a couple of them. So, how do you know which one to marry? You can look in the Bible but it won’t help you. You won’t open God’s Word and have it say, “Ashley, marry Leon, not Robert.” However, when you learn to listen for God’s voice, to discern His voice apart from your own, He can and will tell you who to marry.
Blessed is the man who listens to Me,
Watching daily at My gates,
Waiting at My doorposts. (Prov. 8:34)
This happened to me when I was dating Justin. I had gone on about a dozen dates with other guys before I met Justin. After each first date, I would pray and ask the Lord, “Is this the one?” And each time I felt in my spirit that He said, “No.” And I wouldn’t go on a second date with any of the guys. Then I met Justin. When we went on our first date we ended up spending the entire day together. I felt more comfortable with him than with any of the guys whom I’d been on a date with before and I truly enjoyed his company. He was a geek, like me, enjoyed a lot of the same things, and his personality was funny yet quirky and highly intelligent. But still, when the date ended, it wasn’t like I felt 100% certain that he was the one. I asked the Lord and this time the Lord told me yes. But I still doubted, because my flesh loves to doubt and it’s where the enemy attacks me the most (still does). So, almost every day up until the day we got married, I kept asking the Lord if Justin was the one for me. His voice never changed. Every time He would patiently reply, “Yes, daughter, he is the one.” And now we are happily married.
Listen, my son, and be wise,
And direct your heart in the way. (Prov. 23:19)
But this isn’t just about finding the right life-partner. God will gladly tell you what job to take, what degree to pursue, where to move, what to name your child, what church to attend, if you should buy that car or not, etc. There is no decision too small for Him to care about and you can ask Him anything. He is a good Father, a great Father, and He loves you more than anyone on this planet! He wants us to ask Him for everything and if we learn to recognize His voice, He will lead us on the right path.
Why Should We Listen to Our Husbands?
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19)
This is not about submission, though I may write a post about that later. When I say we need to listen to our husbands I don’t mean obeying them, I mean we need to actually hear what they are saying to us. I’ve noticed, and maybe you do this too sometimes, that when Justin talks to me I am almost always busy doing something else. I’m on the computer or cleaning the kitchen or whatever the case may be and when he starts talking I don’t give him my full attention – in fact, I barely give him half of my attention because I’m still focused on my task.
But how would I feel if Justin did that to me? I think after the first year of marriage we stop thinking of our spouse as a thinking, feeling person and just think of them as our husband – a fixture that we often take for granted. What we need to do, what I need to do, is when our spouse is talking turn away from whatever we were doing and fix our attention on him, truly listening to what he’s saying instead of focusing on ourselves or our busy schedules. And we need to learn not to hear what we want to hear or what we assume we’re hearing and actually try to understand what our husbands are saying to us.
He who gives an answer before he hears,
It is folly and shame to him. (Prov. 18:13)
I know it’s hard but it isn’t impossible and it’s vital to a healthy marriage. When we don’t give our husbands our full attention after a while he will start to feel like he isn’t important to us. He will feel hurt, bitter, resentful, and angry – and rightly so. We would feel the same way in his place. We need to make sure that our husbands know how important they are to us. Give him your full attention when he speaks. Hug him, kiss him for no reason, tell him you love him several times a day. If possible, even send him a text just saying that you love him or you’re proud of him. We won’t have our husbands forever. Death is a part of life and although we don’t want to think about it, and I don’t believe we should focus on it, we should be grateful for every day we have with our spouse or our kids.
When we learn how to listen to others it builds better relationships and teaches us not to be self-centered. And learning how to listen to God’s voice will help us make better decisions so He can use us for His glorious purposes.
I pray this post touches your hearts! Please let me know your experiences with listening (or not listening) to your husband or to God. I would love to hear from you guys!
May God bless your entire week and surround you with His favor!