How does listening heal when working toward reconciliation?

I’m answering in the form of a video an MM reader’s question today on the issue of listening to his wife’s pain when coming to the reconciliation table.

Unfortunately, the process of reconciliation can be tough, even brutal for both parties. But it’s sort of like surgery. Whenever we need it, we submit ourselves to the pain of the process.

listen and empathize

After all, who wants to keep any kind of cancer or destructive growth in your body? 

We are all more than happy to submit to the surgeon’s knife in those cases!

Click on my “less than 5 minute” video below to hear more about my thoughts . . .



Here are two listening tools that I promised on the video – Processing a Relational Conflict and the Reflective Listening Guide.

Whoever wants to share his/her feelings with a spouse should be the “speaker” and complete the “Processing Relational Conflict” exercise first. Once that’s completed, schedule a time with the other spouse to listen, using the “Reflective Listening Guide.” 

Often these kinds of conversations end up going sideways, so if you sit down to have this difficult conversation and it ends up spiraling into an argument or even a “back and forth” discussion, find an objective third-party like a pastor, godly friend, counselor or life-coach to help you walk through this conversation more amicably and constructively.


What are your fears about having a difficult conversation with your spouse?


How has “listening” to your spouse’s pain brought healing to your marriage?


I’m collecting marriage or relationships questions to answer in future videos. If you’re interested in posing a particular question consider taking my brief two question survey here. Be sure to describe the issue along with your question in the survey’s first question box. Thanks so much!

Linking up with these fine blogs –  Making Your Home Sing, Moments of Hope, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Word of God Speak, Spiritual Sundays, Mama Shares Monday, Sitting Among Friends, Faith ‘n Friends, Grace and Truth, Family, Friendship and Faith, Fresh Market Friday and DanceWithJesusFriday












  1. Beth, you are so right here! Listening has been a key part of my marriage growing stronger and getting through the difficult hurdles. It doesn’t always come naturally, especially when you each come from a place of brokenness where your voice was not heard. I learned that it is ok to seek help in practicing how. It made all the difference in being able to offer empathy instead of jumping to defense. You are so wise, and I just love coming here!

    • Yes, Crystal, it certainly doesn’t come natural and is not taught or modeled to us in most cases. So when, like you’ve said, you bring brokenness or hurt into the equation, it makes it monumentally hard to almost impossible. But thankfully, there are proactive folks like you and me who seek professional help to figure out how to listen in ways that bring healing. Thanks so much for your kindness to me! I appreciate you!

  2. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser says:

    Great post again, Beth! You’re on the winning streak that I wish the Cubs had emulated at the start of the World Series (though they are leading as I write this, in a must-win game).

    This is a hard one for me. I’ve learned to really listen, but it’s too late to effect changes. I’ve failed pretty miserably as a husband, through hearing what I wanted to hear. Some people are good examples, and some are cautionary tales. Both are valuable, though being the latter isn’t much fun.

    • Ha! Yes, that’s funny coming from a Cubs fan, since I’m a huge Cardinals fan. But I’m actually rooting for the Cubs and really hope they win the series. We have family that are huge Cubs fans too so it would be extra sweet for them as well.

      I’m sure that listening is a skill you’ve acquired, since I see a sort of listening (observing) that you’ve shown time after time in your insightful posts. And yes, I would also agree that when battling for your life, it leaves little energy to do more than simply survive. I’m still battling my shingles which has probably turned into PHN, so I’m getting a brief lesson in some of what you life with daily. It really does make it difficult to be soft and vulnerable when your in pain. Thankfully, my pain eases each day by noon and I can operate fairly normally until evening when it comes creeping back. Thanks for your constant friendship here, Andrew. I think of and pray for you daily!

  3. I know for certain that my husband wants to feel “heard” more than anything else when we are hashing out an issue. When I play “fill in the blank” or fail to hear his heart, I only set the process back.

    • I bet that you want that more than anything too, Michele. It’s in our DNA to be heard and validated–just as God wants too. No wonder we long for that. And yes, assuming what he feels never achieves what we hope it will. It feels like a boundary violation and puts our spouse on the defensive–no matter how true we may be about our assumption. Thanks for your support and kindness to me, my friend. I always appreciate it when you come by and join the conversation.

  4. Such a good video, Beth. Listening without filters or preconceived ideas can be so hard for us all. It has been my experience that only as I pray privately for God to help me to set those aside so that I can see truth, that our hard conversations were “successful”. Some days I am better at this than others. But I am learning 🙂

  5. Beth, those look like some very useful communication tools! Communication is so important to reconciliation or just growing a more healthy marriage. Thanks for sharing. By the way, you look great on your video!

  6. It’s good to see you doing a video again. The tools you provided and the words to help this husband maneuver the world of healing and reconciliation come from a place of knowing. Thank you for sharing friend!

  7. Dear Beth

    That is a very sensitive response.

    I think your reader’s question is a good question: is it for God or is it for her?

    I often find myself resentful if for example I’m washing dishes and my wife is lounging on the sofa with her feet up reading a storybook. It’s her turn! Howcome I wash the dishes every night even when I cook? etc.

    I can mentally come to my wife’s defence — she has plenty of worries and work of her own that I don’t or can’t do — but that doesn’t really help much at the emotional level.

    This goes double if my wife decides to have a rant about something, either something I’ve done, or just the trials and tribulations of her day. Usually this rant is as soon as I come in from work.

    Thinking to myself, “I must listen for her” generally doesn’t work and I will say something stupid.

    Once washing the dishes I decided I was doing it for God. This did help a lot. I wasn’t suffering drudgery so another person could read their storybook. I was living my life, warts and all, and doing it for – with – God. I don’t think I was any more meticulous than usual, but it helped my mood a lot. Anything we do we can do it for God. That brings God closer and we do it together; God keeps us company.

    This counted double listening to my wife. I suddenly thought, “this is Jesus talking to me”, and even “I am Jesus listening”. Sounds rather dramatic but I don’t think it pushed me into more intense engagement. It kind of lifted me so I could “just listen” without getting defensive or pre-occupied. God is with me and His Spirit is in my wife. Seeing that we were part of one thing helped me put aside everything else for the moment, however long it lasted.


    [sorry for the long ramble. possibly it still doesn’t make sense]