"I feel pulled in so many directions," said Kerri, an August bride. "Tim
and I hardly have time for one another, and when we do, weâ€™re so on edge we
donâ€™t enjoy it."
When wedding planning takes off, together time can get left behind. The
faster you move and the less you connect, the more stressed you will be.
Thereâ€™s nothing you both need more right now than to sit down and just listen
to each other.
But for a lot of brides, this can be remarkably hard to accomplish. Youâ€™re
in a â€˜take-chargeâ€™ mode, not a â€˜smell the rosesâ€™ mode. Everything else seems
so pressing. Itâ€™s hard for something as vague as listening to each other to
compete with all the tasks you have to cross off your list.
So hereâ€™s your "Listening To-Do List." And it needs to get done ASAP!
Before your stress goes off the charts or your fiancÃ© starts to feel like a
stranger. (It happens more than you think.) Hereâ€™s how you can recharge and
reconnect when you feel out of touch with each other or just frazzled from
1. Listen 'all by itself.' This is hard, when weâ€™ve elevated
multi-tasking to a virtue. When was the last time you sat down in the evening
and just did one thing? Say, watched a movie without folding laundry, making a
list, or picking up the living room? Youâ€™d probably as if you were wasting
One day when I came home from work, my 8-year-old step-daughter was all
a-buzz about a school performance she was going to be in.
"I can tell you on the couch," she said.
You can what? Oh, I get it. She was really saying, "I donâ€™t want to tell
you while youâ€™re unpacking your briefcase or changing your clothes, or peaking
hopefully in the fridge to see if thereâ€™s something for dinner. I want to have
a time and a space completely devoted to what Iâ€™m going to say."
Itâ€™s not just kids that want 100% attention. Grown-ups want it, too. We
just forget it sometimes. We also forget that multi-tasking feels very
different to the listener than it does to the speaker. If I give my husband,
oh, say 80% of my attention, with all Iâ€™ve got to think about, I feel as if Iâ€™m
doing darned well. But if heâ€™s trying to tell me something thatâ€™s important to
him, 80% feels as if Iâ€™m not really listening at all.
2. Listen 3 times more than you talk. If you do, at some point,
you'll probably see your fiancÃ© draw a deep breath and relax. That tells you
heâ€™s feeling connected.
3. Listen between the lines. Whatâ€™s really important to your fiancÃ©?
A lot of times we talk around a topic before we zero in on the main point.
Hint: This happens a lot with men during wedding planning. They donâ€™t want to
rock the boat, or they think that their views are not welcome. Listening between
the lines can bring out small issues before they become big issues.
4. Listen when they arenâ€™t talking. Normally, a conversation goes
like this. I'm listening. When the other person finishes a sentence and
pauses, I figure he's done. And that means it's my turn. (Finally!) But
see what happens if you just wait, even when your fiancÃ© pauses. Often that's
the moment when he will tell you something crucial.
At the beginning, he'll talk about things that are less important. He's
testing the waters. Then, if he senses that you're really listening, he'll
tell you the heart of the matter. He may not even realize what the heart of
the matter IS until just that moment. This is especially true if he's upset.
Have you ever noticed that when you're upset you don't always know why?
Neither does your fiancÃ©. Listening even when he pauses gives him the support
he needs to discover it.
5. Summarize his main point. Once you think youâ€™ve got it, check it
out and make sure. This will make him feel even more understood and connected
to you. Then, if there's a problem to be solved, you'll know that you're
solving the right problem! If thereâ€™s just a the beginning of a problem,
chances are youâ€™ll nip it right in the bud.
You may be thinking, "But what about me? When does he listen to me?" Well,
people mirror each other. Itâ€™s very likely that when your fiancÃ© feels what
itâ€™s like to have 100% of your attention, heâ€™ll reciprocate. If not, gently
say something like, "I have some things Iâ€™d like to talk about, too. Can you
just listen to me for awhile?"
Make "Just Listening" your top priority and watch your stress melt away.
Your other to-do list will seem more manageable and youâ€™ll be having fun
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