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Listening: Key To A Successful Marriage

To achieve success in any endeavor, the parties involved must be open to the idea that each has to put in some time and effort to make things work. Such an endeavor includes a long, as well as a satisfying married life.

Often, people tend to overlook the fact that marriage is a constant process of sharing and learning.  It is a given that love is in the picture, but then it does not just end there.  It is a continuous process of striving to be a good spouse, and being a perfect  partner is not an impossibility.

Good News or Bad News
A USA Today article posted on July 18, 2005 claims that there has been a significant decline in the divorce rate all over the United States.  The U.S. divorce rate is currently at 17.7% per 1,000 married women.  A very considerable decrease compared to the 1980 U.S. divorce rate, which is at 22.6%. 

However, there has also been a significant decline in the U.S. marriage rate. From the 76.5% per 1,000 unmarried women in the year 1970, there has been a 50% drop to this day's meager 39.9.

Does this imply that there is a growing concern among Americans that fewer couples prefer not to marry? Or are married couples trying to keep their marriages strong and fulfilling?

Why Do Married Couples Call It Quits?
The main causes of divorce in 2004 have been determined to be the following (in correct order, from highest rank).

- extra-marital affairs
- family strains
- emotional and/or physical abuse
- mid-life crisis
- addictions like, but not limited to alcoholism, gambling
- being a workaholic

But if you look closely, these situations could have been prevented had there been an viable and strong foundation for the relationship built on trust and fostered by good communication.

Hearing  Versus Listening

Aside from both of these activities requiring the use of one's ears, hearing and listening are two totally different things.

Hearing is basically a mere physical process all people are born with.  It is a natural response people have when presented with the stimuli  of sound.  Hearing is very passive.  On the other hand, listening is a skill requiring both physical and mental processes. The process of  listening is a very hard task and it requires one's full and consent concentration.

Communication, in the purest sense is achieved only when thoughts and messages are properly transmitted and clearly received Of course, this involves listening in it’s  purest sense.

Listening Improves Relationships

Contrary to popular belief, listening is actually not a simple skill.  In spite of the tremendous practice people get, or at least think they get from listening to normal day to day interaction with different people, most people are not very good listeners much of the time. Why?  For the very simple reason that listening is such a complex skill to master.

Marriages and friendships, as well as other forms of relationships rely heavily on good listening skills between the parties involved. To improve a married couple's relationship, both spouses must learn to listen to understand rather than just to listen to argue.  With listening, the spouses learn and know more about each so there is little space for tensions and arguments.

So much has been said about how people can improve the listening aspect when communicating.  Easier said than done, right?  However, breaking them down into small easily followed steps and quick to remember keys will probably be more effective.

Listening is anything but a neutral or passive activity.  Listening is not only hearing the words that are uttered but understanding them as well..  When a person listens, he hears not only the words, but the non-language aspect of communication like the tone, the mood, as well as the expression.  It would be advisable (as suggested by most counselors) to listen out for an unspoken mood or concerns including fears and aspirations of the speaker.  Often, these are revealed in usual conversations but are taken for granted or not paid their well-deserved attention.  And in listening, respect is a must.  Just listen.  Do not think of how you should respond.  Listen with sincere optimism and a pleasant and positive human regard.  Remember, this is a spouse, screaming to be heard and to be heard.

Simply keep these simple tips in mind, and watch your listening skills and soon your relationships improve.

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