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Listening to understand or listening to reply


Charles Ighele

Years ago, a man had a hot argument with his wife. And he went over the bar saying something he ought not to have said. This got the wife highly offended. She demanded an apology, which her husband offered. After the apology, he kept on telling the wife that he never meant what he said. After about five minutes of efforts by the man to appease his wife and he thought all was over, he was surprised to hear the wife say, “So, you can say such words to me. So, you can do this to me.” She started wailing as if he never apologised. This is a case of a woman who did not listen to understand what her husband was saying. Instead, she listened to her own inner voice, hurts and pains.

Somewhere else, a man had an argument with his wife sometime ago. The wife wanted something to be done in a particular way, but the man did not agree. He, therefore, spent time to brilliantly present his own side of the matter in a manner that he thought would surely convince her. He was surprised to find out that she did not listen one bit to all he was saying. He knew she did not listen due to her response. Each reply she gave showed she was listening to reply her husband, instead of listening to understand what her husband was saying. It is as if “talk your own finish quick quick make I talk my own.” And that is how a number of husbands and wives behave during arguments.

In the first example, the wife was listening to her husband in order to give a reply. According to the man, who is a complete gentleman, it was a very little matter, which his wife misinterpreted and blew out of proportion, as she does a lot of the time. The wife later agreed that it was really a little matter. But she has a problem, which is that when her husband is explaining things to her, she listens only to herself and replies not from what her husband is talking about but from what her mind is telling her. When you listen to yourself or listen to reply, you can hardly come to a point of understanding with your spouse.


An author wrote some years ago, that many people listen to reply and do not listen to understand. I completely agree with him, because as we found out from our INSTITUTE FOR MARRIAGE AND FAMILY INTIMACY STUDIES, many men and women are bad listeners or at best selective listeners. Many are poor at listening but rich in talking. Students of mass communication will tell you that communication does not only involve talking. It also involves listening. And that communication is not complete until the listener grasps it. Despite the intensity of the argument or quarrel, despite the anger, despite the pains, despite the hurt, when next your spouse is talking during an argument or quarrel, force yourself to listen and try to understand what he or she is saying. When you think your spouse is hurting you during a quarrel, and all you want is how to reply, let it also sink into you that you may also be hurting your spouse without your knowing that you are doing so. Invite the spirit of God to come and take control to heal your pains and that of your spouse and give both of you understanding.

I hereby also suggest that couples should go back to school again. School? Which school? Let us return to the “school of listening to understand” and graduate from the “school of listening to reply.” Love you.


In this article:
Bishop Charles Ighele
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