My dear friends, an older couple married for 30 years in our church are currently taking classes to become counselors. They have already helped several couples who are engaged.They both told me that listening is the most important thing.
People want to be heard. Sometimes, just having a thought said out loud with no interruption, will resolve most problems. However, the world we live in for some reason has friends, family, and strangers giving their opinions to how “we” should do something. Personally, I have tried to get better at this myself. Seeing that I don’t enjoy this, I first pose the question: “Would you like to know what I have learned?” If they agree then I will share, but if they don’t then I won’t waste either of our time. Advice heard through disagreement causes irritation.
In my experience, individuals giving feedback without asking for it must feel they are helping out. I say this because they care enough to share their thoughts; however, if everyone shares then it becomes overwhelming and makes the receiver feel they are doing something wrong. When in most situations they haven’t even had the opportunity to try.
Michael and I talk about everything. Some topics we laugh about and some we have different points of view. There are no discussions or thoughts we leave off the table. We work on communication daily to better our relationship. We intentionally make our thoughts heard so we can create a joint decision that we are both comfortable with. That process creates respect. Respect is earned and not given; arrogance is given and not earned.
The best advice is the kind that is heard, not forced. We are thankful for everyone in our lives and if we would like to hear your thoughts and opinions, we will ask.