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Good communication is more about listening than talking! I find it hard to really listen to my wife, and we’ve been working at this for almost 39 years, but I continue to learn more each day. Here’s something that helps me.

I like to think about the “Communication Bucket” that I ask all of the couples I work with to think about. Try this: Lock your fingers together, open your arms to form a circle and pretend that your arms are the lip of a huge bucket. You’ve just formed a “communication bucket.” Your arms and your mind are now open to your partner. Your job in good communication is to “take in” all that your partner wants to give you without rejecting it or closing your mind to it. That means that you welcome the thoughts, ideas, questions, details and feelings of the one you love without rejecting any of it. That doesn’t mean you agree with all of it, but if you love the person who is giving you the gift of a message or an idea, it’s so important that you at least take the time to internalize it and try to understand. When we do that with those we love, we are really loving them. Love increases understanding and understanding increases love.

Too often we’re distracted by our own thoughts and ideas (not to mention the tv, computer or phone) that we fail to even hear or understand the thoughts and ideas of the one we love. So, next time you and your spouse are talking, open your “communication bucket” and heart and really listening with the goal of understanding what you are hearing and the one who is offering herself/himself to you. You’ll find that as your listening skills increase, so too will your ability to love.

Rev. Dr. Frank Nelson, still on the journey to practice what I preach.

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