Cell phone addiction can hurt good communication

Are You Listening? – 5 Bad Habits that Prevent Good Communication

Marriage Dynamics InstituteCommunication, Marriage Health, Quality Time

Even in the best marriages, communication can be a challenge. 

With all the noise out there, it’s a wonder we can hear anything. That poses a problem for couples who want to keep their relationship healthy through good communication.

A University of California – San Diego study suggests the average person in the U.S. processes more than a hundred thousand words (more than a book) and twelve hours of information each day.

That’s just too much to process.

All that information isn’t the only thing that could be affecting your ability to hear what your spouse is saying. There are other bad habits that can get in the way of good communication.

Listening—actually hearing, processing, and responding to your spouse—is one of the crucial building blocks of exceptional love. How’s that going between the two of you?

If this essential relationship skill isn’t what it should be in your marriage, it’s crucial to identify what might be getting in the way.

Five Obstacles to Good Communication:

  1. You’re addicted to your phone.

Has your gaze ever left your phone and you notice everyone else looking down at theirs? How many family dinners out could each member have spent on their own because what’s in that little square box is apparently more important than each other.

Some reports suggest we can spend up to five hours per day on our phones, much of that without even realizing we’re doing it. One study found surveyed couples spend less than 2 percent of their time together. If you spend more time with your phone than your spouse by a factor of 15, it’s understandable that listening might be low on the list of things you’re doing well.

Put down  your phone and pick up your spouse’s hands, look into their eyes, and listen to what they have to say.

  1. You’re a multi-tasker.

Related, but not always the same, doing too many things at once can keep you from listening well. Many people pride themselves on being able to do many things at once. Hmmm. Is anyone a good multitasker, or is that just an excuse to be more interested in yourself than others? If our time together as spouses as limited, we need to make the most of every minute we’ve got.

Think of it like this. You’ve only got 100 percent of yourself to give. If you’re giving a third each to your newspaper, phone, and spouse, that means you’re 67 percent absent from the relationship.

Not good. Your ability to listen improves exponentially with focus. Multi-tasking and giving your spouse the attention they need aren’t compatible.

  1. You’re never together.

It’s hard to communicate when there’s distance in between you all the time. Between traveling for work, running kids to practices, PTO, church meetings, and a thousand other things we do during the week, it’s not surprising that quality talk time is a premium.

It’s not necessarily because we’re working all the time. Some research insists a culture of abundance and leisure fragment us. In other words, we’re busier because of we pursue, not because of true obligations.

  1. You never stop talking.

Another self-inventory checkpoint to cross is how much of the talking you do in your relationship. Sure, some people are naturally more reserved and some outgoing. Even if that’s the case, the exchange rate needs to be close to 1.

If you do all of the talking in your marriage, try these two things. First, ask more questions. Second, get comfortable with silence. Many spouses will answer with something short and sweet, or not at all, at first because they need time to process what you asked and to develop their answer. Either they’re not quite as quick to formulate a response, or want to put some thought into what they want to say. It’s much easier to develop good communication in a marriage if both partners are given the opportunity to express their thoughts.

  1. You can’t listen because your spouse isn’t talking.

It’s one thing to have trouble listening if words are always coming out of your mouth. It’s another your ears aren’t receiving anything to hear.

If you give your spouse the chance to talk, and they still never do, it’s essential to find out why.  Why have they shut down? Are they hurting in some way?

Don’t be afraid to have an open conversation with your spouse about this. You may need professional help to open the lines of communication between you and your spouse. Ask for it.

Listen up! Exceptional love is possible between you and your spouse if you’ll consider how to sharpen your listening skills. Make the necessary adjustments and create an open pathway to better communication.

Find other great tips by downloading our Seven Foolproof Ways to Build an Exceptional Love pdf. It’s completely free, and may just take your marriage to a different place. Find other great resources, courses, and workshops at www.marriagedynamics.com.

About the Author

Marriage Dynamics Institute

Marriage Dynamics Institute (MDI) wants to cultivate healthy families, churches, and communities by helping create marriages full of joy, meaning, and purpose. Having served more than 75,000 couples since 1994, MDI offers workshops and seminars for marriages at every stage, including those in crisis.