Ever have someone finish your sentences for you? Irritating isn’t it? I have a friend who finishes my sentences. Every single one. He doesn’t do it consciously, but it’s distracting just the same.
When I noticed my friend’s habit, I started paying attention, and I soon noticed someone else doing it. You guessed it . . . lil’ ole me! And it’s usually my wife I’m doing it to. After 49 years, it’s easy to assume I know what she’s going to say. But knowing how it feels to have my sentences finished for me motivated me to work on staying quiet and letting her words come out when they come out.
But there’s a bigger problem lurking. It’s not just finishing her sentences, it’s assuming I know what she’s thinking or feeling. Sometimes I’m so sure I know what’s coming, I catch myself tuning out before she’s finished her thought. Not good.
Nowhere is it worse than when we’re with other people. We’re chatting away, and the conversation turns to her. She starts to share something, and before I know it, I’ve taken over her story and started telling it for her. Unprompted. Do I think she won’t tell it accurately? Am I trying to protect her from not being heard by speeding up the telling? Or am I simply ‘grabbing the microphone’ so I’m the center of attention? I don’t know for sure, but none of those reasons are any good.
Even worse, I’ve caught myself correcting her or adding details that aren’t important to her or the story. Each time I interrupt or over-speak her, her countenance changes. I’m hurting her. I’m more concerned about what people are thinking about me than what she is thinking about me. Deadly. Love-killing.
Our wives want to be honored and cherished. In a culture so filled with loudspeakers and microphones, listening . . . hearing people out . . . giving them our undivided attention is one of the most loving things we can do. And especially our wives and especially in public! Listening is loving.
When we listen to our wives in front of other people . . . when we ‘give her the microphone’ and the time to comfortably say what’s on her mind, we give her an incredible gift. And she can feel it when we listen actively and empathetically, affirming her with our eyes and body language.
A friend pointed me to a line from a country song that nailed it . . .
“I want to hear the thunder I’ve been stealing.”
Thanks for reading this confessional today. I realize none of you have ever made this kind of mistake. But if you run into some dumb guy who has, maybe you could share this post with him. It might just help him make his marriage a little more intimate.
Scripture: If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. (Proverbs 18:13)