Marriage is about Love – But….

 In Couples

“All you need is love… da, da da-da, da-da, da” so goes the lovely John Lennon mantra, and he’s right. And also missing something. I have known many people who actually love other people but their fear or their insecurity or their past wounds and losses – get in their way. The person loved often doesn’t experience this love as loving.

A woman I trust once told me this ‘you may love me, Stephen, but you’re not very loving.’ It stung. It was right on target. Loving is more than a feeling. More than intention also. You might want to take a look at your own competencies. What would those be?

In order to go from ‘I love you’ to ‘I am effectively loving you’ start with listening. Someone once said that two ears used correctly are the best aphrodisiac known to humankind. Listening with intention means that I am more interested in who you are than in what I have to say. Effective and loving listening has at its core – curiosity. Genuine curiosity is the foundation for genuine listening.

Information Listening

I would encourage you to learn the difference between several types of listening. There’s listening for data content/ information or instructions. This kind of ‘roommate’ listening is easy enough to do but few do it well. A good skill here is called “active listening” in which you simply repeat back to the speaker that which they said and ask them if you ‘got it.’

Listening with the Intention of Influencing

A second kind of listening is more often found in business but it’s there everyday in marriage as well. We call it ‘listening with the intention of influencing.’ This kind of listening attends to the values and beliefs, the life story, the current challenges of the one speaking. These then are carefully folded into your response so that you increase your effectiveness in leading the conversation where you want it to go.

Resonate Listening

Finally, “resonant listening” is more intense and takes greater focus as well as clear intention. It means that I not only want to hear my loved ones words and be able to feed them back accurately, I also want to get the vibe behind the words. I want to ‘tune into’ the feeling tones, the importance of their words to them, and the way the content ‘resonates’ to their entire person. Big deal. Big challenge too. But it can be learned. Therapists are good resources here.

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