Listening fortifies 43-year marriage

Day by Day:
Listening fortifies 43-year marriage

By LIZ THOMPSON
April 19, 2020
This Week News

Most of us can look back on our lives and wonder what would be different today if we had made a different choice in the past.

My most vivid thoughts on this idea float back to April 1, 1977.

A friend from church, Rosemary, talked me into going to a church-sponsored single-parents group. It took some convincing, but I finally gave in.

Within 45 minutes, I had met the man I would marry.

It was the last thing I had in mind. I was focused on raising my young daughter and surviving on a meager salary.

But one year and 21 days later, Bob and I became husband and wife.

We have been asked by young people how we stayed married “this long.” It seems we met yesterday, not 43 years ago.

Love and respect, friendship and good listening skills certainly help make the days memorable.

A verse from James 1:19 is good advice for relationships, especially marriage:

“My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”

Most of us have heard the phrase, “There’s a reason you have two ears and only one mouth.”

According to an article on Dayspring, “If you have (heard this phrase), consciously or not, the deliverer of that message was speaking the truth of James 1:19.”

Bob and I had some unique situations to deal with. We all have challenges, but we were a blended family before it was common.

He was blind in one eye, and I had moderate hearing loss.

We often joked that it was a good thing because he could see only half of me and I could hear only half of what he said. We joked so we wouldn’t cry or feel sorry for ourselves.

It turned out Bob had a lot to say, so I listened as well as I could for many years. I had no difficulty talking and Bob was a great listener. I was near deafness in 2002.

“But love listens because love first seeks to understand. At its core, that’s all listening really is: caring enough to try to understand before responding.”

Those sentiments from the same Dayspring article had a different meaning as I lost my physical ability to understand words. I could read body language and American Sign Language.

I usually was exhausted at the end of the day trying to understand. Many times, I responded incorrectly or remained silent, yet Bob and my family were kind and patient with me.

When the miracle of a cochlear implant gave me back the ability to hear words clearly, I loved listening and truly understanding.

I love it when Bob says, “I was thinking …” because we can share our thoughts so easily now.

The Dayspring article was about the art of listening well. I think that is the basis for any good relationship, and certainly marriage. It goes on to say:

“For those who are quick to listen, have patience with the talkers.

“For the talkers: breathe. Let others speak until they’re finished … then wait to say it. Intentionally let someone else speak first.

“And as for the slow-to-anger part of these verses in James … that’s much easier to do when we are first quick to listen and subsequently slow to speak.”

It takes practice on both sides of any communication. Did we do it perfectly all these years?

Of course not, but we came out stronger on the other side of troubles. We added a large dose of forgiveness throughout the years for ourselves as well as for each other.

We are all challenged during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. I’m thankful to have Bob by my side as we live our wedding vows every day: “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish.”

In many ways, we helped each other become better versions of ourselves.

I’m glad I listened all those years ago.

Enjoy each new day. Time passes all too quickly.

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