Usually while I’m writing I will put on my headphones, head on over to Pandora, and plug in my classical music station, simply to drown out the noise around me so that I can hear myself think and put a cohesive thought down on the page. Actually, right now I am sitting in a completely silent house, something abnormal when we have three kids. Listening to all this science I am amazed by how much noise we hear in our everyday life. Street noise, background noise, that silly elevator music they play in every shop, conversations, phones, radio, washing machine… Does the noise ever end? In the midst of all that noise how do you know what you are really listening to?
Every second of every day our brains make decisions on what to listen to and what to ignore. Our brains tune out the normal sounds that we hear all the time very well. “No, I don’t need to listen to that elevator music”, “nope I don’t care about the heater fan coming on”, so we hear those sounds but basically ignore them, we don’t listen.
Our brains also tune into the new, novel or interesting sounds in our world. “Ooo I like that song” or “was that a small squeak in the fan belt?” We hear these sounds then they catch our attention and we actually listen to them.
Our brains tune out the everyday and tune into the unique. This could be very problematic when it comes to your marriage! A marriage that is on the journey of one flesh needs to be based on communication, but if we only hear and do not listen to the everyday sound of your wife’s voice we will miss an important step in the journey.
I admit I used to be a pretty poor listener when it came to my wife. I had a bad habit of hearing what she was saying while continuing to listen to whatever I was doing (watching TV, computer, reading, etc.). Then I would give the obligatory “uh ha” and “ok love” type of response while I never really listened to what she was saying. Yes I heard her, yes I took in the information, but I was not devoting my brain to our conversation, I was not listening to her.
This did two things. 1: I usually forgot whatever we were talking about, which would set us up for more problems down the road. And 2: I was showing Kate by my actions that I didn’t really want to talk, that I didn’t care about whatever she was saying. Of course when she confronted me I would immediately baulk and say, “No of course I care!”, but as we all know actions speak louder than words, and mine were speaking volumes.