Have you ever listened to a good orchestra? There is the conductor and then rows of orchestra members arching out away from the conductor until the stage or pit is full. The orchestra has sections that make up the whole that include musicians playing woodwind instruments, brass instruments, string instruments, and percussion. In most sections there are multiple musicians playing the same instrument. So, outside of a solo during a piece of music, can you hear what the third flute on the 3rd row on the left side is playing? What about that guy playing the trombone on the 4th row right about 4 seats up from the end? Can you hear what he is playing? What about the violinists? Well, in most orchestras all of the members are doing their little part so that the whole song sounds great. The only time you could hear an individual musician is if they were playing a solo or playing off of the wrong sheet of music.

When it comes to listening to our wife, we often are trying to hear the flute in the orchestra we call home. We have the TV on, the microwave roaring, the kids screaming, the can opener whirring, the washing machine spinning, the cell phone buzzing, and the email on the tablet. It is one big symphony of noise, but are we able to discern what our spouse may be trying to get us to hear with all of this going on? How often do we catch just enough of what she is trying to tell us that we are almost dangerous?

Let’s look at some ways we can try to focus on hearing what our wife is saying in the midst of the noise.

  • Make your wife your focus. Let your wife know that besides all of the distractions that they are the most important thing for you. They need to be able to see the “you matter’ factor.
  • Neglect everything else that is going on at the moment. Try to ignore all other things that are going on around you so you can give your full attention to your wife. Some people call this “planned neglect.” Probably better to mention that “planned neglect” should be aborted if you hear the kids say anything about blood, “Wonder what this will do?”, or “I’m going to fly!”
  • Look at your wife in the eyes. The eyes will help you hear a lot more than the words that she is saying.
  • Keep your eye contact on your wife. Don’t look around at other people or things in the room. Focus solely on your wife talking to you.
  • Watch her facial expression, body language, and tone. Like the eyes, your wife’s nonverbal cues may give you a better indication of what she is saying than her words.
  • Mute the cell phone. Do not let the cell phone, I Pad, or whatever be a distraction to listening to your wife. Nobody else is more important at that time when you need to talk with your wife.
  • Make sure you are facing your wife and showing interest. Let your body language show that you are listening.
  • Don’t devise a response to what your wife is saying until she has completed her thought. We can sometimes lose key thoughts and words if we let our minds ramble while we are trying to listen. Put your eagerness to listen over your desire to talk.
  • Ask questions when needed for clarification. Sometimes we can ask questions we have that might give us more understanding and keep the conversation on track.
  • Don’t assume. Never prejudge what your wife is going to tell you. Give your wife the freedom to tell you what they want to say. If you assume what your wife is going to say you have shut your ear off and might miss the real point or worse, embarrass yourself.
  • Listen for what your wife does not say. Some call this “third ear” hearing. Sometimes the most important thing is to hear what is not said. This can tell you a lot about the needs and attitude of your wife.

So, it is never going to be easy to hear the 3rd flutist in the orchestra, but with a little work we might be able to conduct the other instruments to play soft enough that we can hear her song loud and clear.