I’m reading a book “Dude’s Guide to Marriage: Ten Skills Every Husband Must Develop to Love His Wife Well”.
The first chapter is about listening and after you read it you’re supposed to ask your wife a couple of questions for growth. Now, my mom beat a love and respect and appreciation of books into us as kids. Because of this I can’t write in them these days. We’re not married and we’ve only just started to date, but I asked J the questions and wanted to annotate her her answers, because some of them were surprising to me. And I don’t really do a diary or journal so… here (and here) it is:
- How would you rate my listening skills, 1 being awful, 10 being pure awesome? Why? – I didn’t actually ask her to rank them. But she said she thinks I do pretty good. I asked her if she thought I actually “hear” her when I’m listening and she said she does. We both acknowledged that when it’s about an issue between us I can default to a defensive posture, but eventually we get past that.
- Who is the best listener you know? What makes him or her a good listener? – It was late. She didn’t have an immediate answer so we’re coming back to this one.
- What practical things can I do to improve my listening skills? – This was the surprising one to me. And I have to figure out how to approach it. She said that I don’t do the best job with follow through. The example she gave me was that I didn’t follow up with her on some quasi plans we made. In my mind, we said that she was going to call me, because her schedule is the weird one during the week. In hers, I just should’ve called because I’m the guy. Which is fine. But it’s weird to me, because I feel like I’ve put a lot of effort into following through, to show that I’m listening, that I’m in the moment when she’s talking, to try to improve my memory…
- Are there any bad listening habits that I need to drop? – Sometimes I interrupt. She’s not wrong, sometimes I get really excited and can’t wait my turn. Especially since my memory has started to drop out with the TBI. So I definitely need to stop that. I need to find a better coping mechanism for my bad memory than talking over others.
- What are the best times of day for us to have important conversations? – Later in the day.
It was a good exercise and I’m looking forward to reading more in the book. It felt more than a little goofy at first to ask her the questions and start the conversation, but once we started talking it was good. It took us to a lot of places I didn’t catalog up above and that’s always good, as long as it’s done in a healthy way, right?
So much of my work over the last couple of years has been internal. It was painful at first, mainly because of the realization of stuff that was broken and how it’d hurt relationships and interactions. Then it was frustrating because I didn’t feel like myself anymore. And I kept feeling like I couldn’t turn it off. These changes were happening quickly and I couldn’t stop them. I’d wake up in the middle of the night because some dots had connected and I couldn’t stop working on the new issue until I had it all figured out.
This is different. It’s not all introspective and looking in the rear-view mirror. It’s positive and forward looking, exciting and invigorating in some ways.