Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Listening: The Greatest Gift
I recently met with a couple who invited me to have a pizza as we finalized the ceremony details. The groom reminded me that it was going to be 90 degrees the afternoon of the outdoor ceremony. He insisted that we keep it barebones short. A cloud came over the bride’s face. She was Roman Catholic and her family already was upset that she wasn’t getting married in the Church. She wanted a ceremony that wasn’t rushed. The groom dove into his pizza and the bride dabbed the tears hovering in her eyes. I asked the bride to tell her fiancé her concerns. He put his pizza down and listened. He was surprised and then admitted he’d forgotten so much of what she had just expressed. In the weeks leading up to this final meeting, he hadn’t really listened to her—not with his ears; not with his eyes.
Stress increases when a bride and groom don’t fully listen to each other. Good listening is one of the surest ways to prevent stress from beginning.
I’ve observed that by the time a couple begins planning for their wedding, they’ve developed patterns of listening and not listening to each other. The planning process is going to test just how good those rituals are.
Stressed with work, couples rely on trusted technology to get things done. However, getting things done is not the same as listening. Listening doesn’t happen with the click of a “send” button. Listening demands “seeing”—what the other is saying, as well as not saying.
If a bride and groom don’t listen to each other, confusion quickly moves in. I see this when I meet with couples—those who’ve listened to what each wants and those who’ve not. With those who have been listening, there’s a lighthearted tone to our conversation. And with those who haven’t, there are many awkward moments that I need to smooth over.
Are you listening to each other?
Are you satisfied with the quality of listening?