Here is a simple test you can try out for yourself. Tune in to some of the conversations around you. What do people tend to talk about?
I have tried this experiment for years. The simple answer is this: People tend to talk about themselves, or their own involvements far more than they talk about the other person. Typically, they don’t show much investment or time for concerns other than their own.
One of the biggest gifts we can offer for moving forward in a relationship is learning to listen. Its also one of the rarest of giftings, as most of us would rather talk about ourselves than give ear to others. A general message that comes across here is, “I really don’t care about you. Life is all about my interests.”
Tune in to some of your own conversations, and see where they focus.
Those who listen, and truly hear, are those whose investment will bring a positive return to the team.
A second, even more costly gift is choosing to value your spouse’s feelings, especially when they differ from yours.
When we take the time to be curious about a differing opinion, explore it, ask questions, get to understand it, these actions can offer HUGE relational self-awareness. It gives very valuable awareness of different approaches to both of you , and establishes a climate of caring. It builds solutions, rather than fueling differences.
This is not easy at first, as, by nature we tend to be very offendable and extremely reactionary. However, the benefits of choosing to respect a different way than your own, learn about it, and honour differences are immense. By choosing to respond thoughtfully, rather than oppositionally, we teach our brains to move away from their fast-fight reactions, to a slower, considerate, and deliberate response.
These are indeed wonderful gifts you can offer each other, as you can work together to build your team.
This is what mutual love looks like, and this is the essence of a mature relationship.