Of course it is true that marriage has its seasons. Carole and I have been married for 40 years this September. She still loves me and I cannot imagine my life without her. For both of us, life has been marked with difficulty as well as grace and that means marriage has been hard at times.
Earlier today, I found a few paragraphs that summed up the idea of a marriage that works. Entitled “The Best Kind of Love” it is a portrait of a maturing covenant relationship that has both purpose and friendship. Worth reading I think.
Two great thrusts and one great convergence!
I have been listening to Bruno Mars and his “Doo-Wops and Hooligans.” All the while, I am writing a manual for couples in conflict. That’s not the synergy though. I also came across Susan Heitler’s “The Power of Two: Secrets to a Strong and Loving Marriage” and realized that she has already created what I was striving to do. And she does a way better job than I could do. And she says more than I had thought to say. And I have freed up a few days to work on something else!
So here is my recommendation: buy Heitler’s book – on Amazon it is $15.85 – and the parallel workbook if you are especially keen or if your marriage would be helped by it. [See: The Power of Two].
And now that you are reading it, read it together, chapter by chapter. Turn off the TV, read to each other, take time to talk. Talk through what you have learned and how you can apply it to your marriage.
But don’t forget to put on Bruno Mars. You can find it on iTunes for $12.99. This is the happy synchronicity. It is happy music for marriages.
“I can’t speak with you right now. I am in the middle of a sentence.”
“You know, you don’t have to say everything you know.”
I learn great things from my client friends. The first comment came from a couple interchange that was lively, funny, heated, pointed – good conflict, in other words. The second comment was reported by a man who discovered that he didn’t have to win every argument, position himself in every discussion or make a comment on the wary ways of his teenagers.
There are thought to be three basic styles of listening, one better than the other two.
1) The first is “listening to be right.” Competitive listening happens when we are more interested in winning a verbal war or promoting your own point of view, than in understanding somebody else or their thoughts. It is the communication style of the arrogant (“Knowing it all, why would I waste time understanding someone else?”).
2) In “hearing” (“I heard what you said!”) the listener is passive, meandering in and out of the verbal stream, not engaged enough to make a comment, not passionate enough to disagree, and not thoughtful enough to carry the conversation further. Weak and wimpy or, at best, distracted and dismissive, less a communication style than a communication impairment.
3) Participative listening creates a partnership, a team activity with all the cooperation and friction this implies. Engagement is high because you are interested, expressing interest and inviting interest. It is interesting conversation and it goes somewhere and with some panache (a word my Dad used which still sounds wonderfully soul-ish to me).
It might be helpful to know the ways of a listener. I feel myself irritated with me when I listen to prove my rightness; and I feel even more miserable when I sense someone is waiting to find my logical fault. But I love talking when there is an interchange of meaning and (e)motion. It feels to me like being a member of a motorcycle gang (the friendly kind), all of us moving in the same direction, creating lots of lovely Harley noise, and with élan (another word my Dad used to use).