Listen and Be Near

There is great power in the simple, everyday acts of love.

I had a heavy feeling day this week. It was a combination of things that made it that way. That is just how some days are because that is how life can be.

When I got home that afternoon I brought the heaviness with me. I wasn’t depressed or mad or really even worn out. I was just heavy and introspective about a few things. With the way I am wired, it could be easy for a day like that to have a negative impact on life at home with Shelley and the kids. I know it has at times.

This particular day was one of those times when there was nothing that Shelley could practically do to “fix” the situation. The truth is that I am still heavy feeling today.

So as I brought “heavy me” home (I guess I could be Heavy D since my name starts with a D), wanting a little comfort and escape, I found one. It was very simple.

I walked into the kitchen, sat at the table and said, “I am feeling heavy. But, it is hard to explain”. Then, while we were hanging out in the kitchen, I did my best to unpack my feelings to her. I just talked. She stopped what she was doing, leaned against the counter and simply listened. Then she said something so good and simple to me that says so much about her.

“I am listening to everything you’re saying. And I know there is nothing I can really do. But I am listening.”

Shelley is a great place of comfort and encouragement. (See My Biggest Fan)

Listening and being near are powerful. Anyone who has truly been listened to can tell you how much it has meant to them. They will tell you that in those moments they have felt loved and valued. I believe that is especially true in marriage.

When I was done unloading my heavy day, Shelley went back to cleaning the kitchen and I just sat there feeling a little lighter. It was simply because she stayed close and listened.

When she started to leave the room, I said, “I hope you don’t mind, but I am going to follow you around. It makes me feel better.” So I followed her like needy puppy…I mean a big strong manly man.

That may sound corny or wimpy but I am “ok” with that. One of the most beautiful aspects of a healthy marriage is being able to find comfort in just being close to your spouse and listened to by them.

Being near and listening can be hard. It is much easier to try to be a “fixer” with a solution to everything. Sometimes we can have such a “fixer” mentality that we underestimate the simplicity of listening and being near.

We want the easy fix answer instead of doing the hard work of listening.

As a guy, I am more naturally the “fixer” so it has taken me longer to learn this lesson. I am so thick headed that sometimes I just come out and ask Shelley, “Is this one of those times when I don’t need to say anything?”

Shelley knows my thick headedness so well that sometimes she starts the conversation by saying, “I don’t need you to say anything. Just listen to me.”

We haven’t always been very good at this part of our marriage. I remember years ago when she was trying to tell me something and I was not very focused on her. She grabbed me by the face and said, “Look at me and listen to me!” Ouch!

Shelley has taught me a lot about listening and being near and I know there is much more to learn. Maybe the most important thing that I have learned is that I need to lead the way. If I am not a person who models that for Shelley, then how can I expect her to be that person for me? I don’t have the right to demand that she listen when I am not willing to do the same.

Here is what learning to listen and being near is doing for the Hunts.

1) We are becoming a greater place of comfort and rest for one another.
2) We are becoming more honest about our own weaknesses.
3) We are growing in our understanding of one another.
4) We are learning to have a more genuine focus on the needs of the other.

I am reminded of Matthew 11:28 when Jesus said, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened I will give you rest.”  I don’t think there is a better place to pursue to live that out than in marriage.

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