Sometimes it seems like you could hear your spouse’s voice anywhere, even in a crowded train station, a bomb testing zone or the demolition floor of a construction site. This may be a slight exaggeration. But the remarkable truth is you can hear your spouse better than you can strangers, at least according to a recent study. Researchers at Canada’s Queens University used couples whose ages ranged from 44 to 79. They asked these participants to read a script. These readings were recorded and played back for their spouse. But at the same time this recording played another played simultaneously. And the voice on the other recording was the same age and gender as the listener’s spouse. At certain points in the experiment they would ask the listener what their spouse was saying, while at others they asked what the stranger said. Participants could understand their own spouse’s voice far more readily than the strangers. This research was published in the journal Psychological Science.
When the stranger’s voice was listened to, the participant’s age often had an effect on whether they could make out what the stranger was saying or not. Middle aged listeners could more readily focus in on the stranger’s voice than their older counterparts. While the middle aged have an easier time tuning out their spouse, older people don’t have that luxury. It’s good to know that we can hear our spouse’s well. But are we truly listening to what they are saying? And if not, why not? Sure the stereotype is one of tuning out our spouse. But the most successful couple’s know that positive communication and active listening are the cornerstones of their success. Practice active listening with your partner. If you feel that one or another is nagging, address it. Tell them how it makes you feel. And brainstorm other ways to communicate that are less irritating to one and more effective in causing action in the other. For more advice read, How to Speak Your Spouse’s Language: Ten Easy Steps to Great Communication from One of America’s Foremost Counselors by H. Norman Wright.