by Rick Warren — June 8, 2021
From You Make Me Crazy
“Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
James 1:19 (NIV)
During the next few days, we’re going to look at some practical ways you and your spouse can grow closer to each other and closer to God. Many of these principles can also be applied to any close relationship, at any stage of your life.
One skill that anyone can learn to help make their relationships better—whether in marriage or in friendship—is how to pay attention.
When you give someone your attention and focus, it’s like you give them a piece of your life.
Your time is your life because you’ll never get it back. That’s why the most loving act you can show your spouse is to pay attention to them. Those focused moments of intimate sharing are one of the most important ways you say, “I love you.”
The truth is, you fell in love by paying attention. You started paying attention to someone, and that person started paying attention to you. You bought flowers, wrote notes, and talked for hours on the phone. You spent your free time together.
But gradually your attention shifted. Today you may be more focused on paying the bills, taking care of kids, pursuing hobbies, or building your career. Your spouse isn’t the center of your attention anymore. A shift of focus happens naturally, but if you don’t bring your attention back to each other, your marriage will eventually crumble.
One of the ways you let your attention fade in marriage is when you stop listening to each other. Pride makes you assume you know what your spouse has said—because you think you’ve heard them say it over and over again through the years.
If you’ve stopped listening to your spouse, start listening again today. Why? First, you love the person. And when you give your attention by listening, you’re showing love. Next, sometimes God speaks through your spouse. In fact, next to the Bible, it’s God’s favorite way to speak to you.
God gives a great recipe in his Word for the kind of focused attention through listening that makes a marriage grow. James 1:19 says, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (NIV). When you do the first two parts of that verse, the third one will be automatic. As you do this, you’ll keep your marriage growing and going.
To fan the flames of romance in your marriage, start bringing back some of that focused attention. Show you care by staying aware. As you pay attention to each other, you’ll find yourselves growing closer even as you raise a family, pursue careers, and eventually grow old together.