Son Shine Ministries celebrates its 42nd year this month. On September 3, 1977, ministry founders Ted & Barbara Platt and Lew & Sandy Shaffer anwered God's call to establish Son Shine Ministries. Established in Montgomery, Alabama, the ministry eventually set up its office in Azle, Texas, (at the northwest point of the DFW metroplex) in 1981, where it remains to this day. We are deeply grateful to our founders and to all those who have served in and supported Son Shine Ministries over the years. Likewise, we have never been more excited about the marriage and family outreach God is currently blessing and all that lies ahead.
Researcher John Gottman has identified conflict avoidance as the #1 predictor of a failed marriage. As Son Shine Ministries actively trains on communication and conflict resolution, one of the most important skills needed is active listening. When done well, it communicates respect and makes your spouse truly know he/she is heard.
Active listening begins when your spouse shares with you something of importance, including the emotion connected with it. After listening intently, you then paraphrase back to your spouse what you heard, identifying the emotion that accompanied it. This is not the time to express an opinion. The key to this stage is to make sure your spouse is truly heard. The next step is that the original "sender" evaluates the paraphrased response, fine-tuning it to make sure he/she is truly understood. In conflict resolution, it is important for both spouses to take turns doing this before possible solutions are discussed. Besides escalating initial reactions, it is in the active listening step of paraphrasing where we often see couples go off course. Active listening is a learned skill (i.e., it takes practice).
Jeff Daly's oft-quoted statement, "Two monologues do not make a dialogue," is true, but two monologues (with active listening) often begin a dialogue. Communication is vital in relationships. Is this a strength in your marriage? What small thing could you do today to improve it?