“Pay attention!” “Eyes on the board!” “Where’s your head?”
I heard all of these (and many more!) when I was growing up. I had (OK, have) a very short attention span. Focusing on anything for any length of time has always been a challenge to me. If I’m going to study for a sermon, I’ve got several tricks I use to make sure my attention stays where it needs to. Some days, I’m more successful than I am on other days.
Not paying attention is a growing and dangerous problem in our culture. People drive and text. Others try to carry on conversations while they check social media. Meeting attendees check email and work on other projects while they’re supposed to be paying attention to the meeting they’re in.
One of the places this lack of attention is so destructive is our marriages. Trying to listen to your wife and watch TV doesn’t work. Listening to your husband while you scroll through Facebook actually shuts down communication. It doesn’t enhance it.
We have enough studies to know one thing for sure: we don’t multi-task well. In fact, most of us can only do one thing at a time.
And that is especially true in our marriages. We can only do one thing at a time. We can only focus on one thing at a time.
So, when it’s time to focus on your marriage, put down everything else and focus on your marriage. Turn off the TV, unplug your gadgets, and focus on each other. Look into her eyes and turn your body to squarely face each other. Listen—with your whole self—listen! Listen not only to the words, but to how the words are said. Listen not only to what words are used, but how the way they’re used changes or shapes their meanings.
You notice things when you pay attention. You pick up on small details you had overlooked before. You learn things and discover things that have been there all of the time.
Focus will do the same thing to your marriage. So, pay attention. Focus. Who knows? You may find another reason you fell in love in the first place.