Recently a dear friend and I were talking over coffee. Not talking about the subject of coffee, but talking, while enjoying some delicious Canadian born Tim Hortons. Or, as I affectionately like to called it, “Uncle Tim’s”. And this ‘talking’ was more like me pouring out my heart, struggles and failures in life and him calmly listening (he’s such a great listener!) and giving me godly counsel. This was not our first ‘talk’ and I’m sure it won’t be our last. I’m so grateful for dear brothers to fellowship with and receive counsel from.
Anywho…As we we talked through the challenges of communication in marriage, he said something that really stuck with me. He counsels young engaged couples to be in ‘discovery mode’ with each other as they communicate, listening not only with the ears but with the whole heart. The benefits are manifold. Not only does true, from-the-heart listening show that you value the one you’re listening to, but it also keeps your mouth shut so you don’t say stupid(read ‘hurtful’) things (something I hope to learn one day). This ‘discovery mode’ principle reminded me of the new pair of Bluetooth earbuds I recently purchased. Pretty simple technology but for those who haven’t taken the plunge into Bluetooth yet, you fire up your device and put it into ‘discovery’ (or pairing) mode. You then put your source device into discovery mode (your computer or smart phone). Once both devices are in this mode, they can ‘see’ each other and ‘connect’. Once they are connected, you are ushered into a wonderful world of wireless music, podcasting or video watching all from the privacy of your personal and wireless audio connection. It’s the walker’s, jogger’s, cyclist’s and motorist’s dream. No tangly wires to manage. Yee Haw! You’re cooking with gas!
But imagine if you took your new Bluetooth headphones out of the box, turned them on, popped them in your ears and hit ‘play’ on your smartphone’s music app. You’d be a bit frustrated since nothing would come through those new buds. You could crank up the volume, skip from song to song and even (you know you do this!) smash down on that play button really hard but still nothing. You’re not connected! This is akin to trying to communicate with someone without really comitting to be in discovery mode. No actual connection occurs, from the heart. So, as you hear words come out of the other person’s mouth, you may get bits and peices and you may even be able to repeat back what they said, but are you really connected? Not so much. Are you actively listening? And this type of unconnected communication will only lead to frustration.
Ryan and Selena Frederick pick up on this same concept in their book Fierce Marriage. On page 128, they write about exploration:
“Sadly, many marriages stagnate because couples stop exploring each other. They stop actively investigating, learning, and pursuing. Why is that a common tendency? Familiarity makes us lax, and routines, habits, tiredness, and general lack of creativity or skill are all contributors to poor communication. But you have a a lifetime to discover each other, and discoveries are always rife with anticipation and excitement. You need only persist down your path of friendship!”
I’m learning that anything worthwhile (my wife, my marriage, my kids) is going to take effort. I somehow so often and so easily slip into thinking that good, deep relationship will happen by chance or magic without diligent effort by me. What a lie. Lord, keep me in discovery mode with my precious bride, keep me exploring her, listening to her heart, actively and lovingly so I can respond well and please you as a husband.