The Influence of Learning Styles on Our Marriage – Presence Harmonious Family Series
Earlier this year, we took our 4th grade daughter to Presence to undergo their Learning Style and Multiple Intelligence assessment. Interestingly, the approach was to have both parents and the child take the same assessment. From the results, not only do we now have a better understanding of how our daughter learns, but the surprising benefit was to discover how my husband and I process information. This revelation has certainly given us a better handle on improving our communication.
As most commonly known, learning styles are generally split into visual, auditory and kinesthetic. From the assessment, we confirmed that I am an auditory learner while my husband is a more visual learner. What an “Aha!” moment! My brain began to realize many of our conflicts stem from this difference.
That is why we have fought over the volume control when listening to music numerous times. As an audio-sensitive person, I prefer a quiet setting so that I can focus. On the other hand, music doesn’t bother my visual-driven husband much. Another example is the countless fallouts we experience when we have disagreements. When I express my reasoning, my husband often thinks that I debate my way out of our arguments and push him to become speechless. As an auditory learner, I convey my message through speech and that is too overwhelming for my poor husband. He prefers writing his thoughts out after processing. To me, that is too slow and I thought it is more ‘biblical’ to resolve all things verbally before bedtime.
Even our spiritual journey is different with our auditory versus visual dynamics. For example, during sermons, I tend not to take notes because I learn from hearing. My husband thinks that I’m not paying attention to what the pastor says because I don’t write the points down. On the other hand, my ‘visual’ husband has to take notes and see the words for deeper understanding. From each sermon, to every work meeting, to daily journaling, he writes things down! One cannot count how many notebooks we have in our house. And I used to wrongly judge him as a slow learner. What a misunderstanding!
Now that we realize this learning style difference is one of the root causes of our clashes, we try to put this into consideration by understanding each other’s perspectives and extend more grace. For example, I keep my mouth shut when my husband introduces note-taking skills to our daughter and encourages her to use that during class. Before this assessment, I would have blankly told him this method is a waste of time and is useless. You can imagine the damage this casual yet hurtful comment would have caused. It would be a cut to my husband’s need for respect (especially in front of our children) and another awful example of my self-righteous pride thinking my own way is better than his.
With this learning style difference, another area to change is to adjust my own expectations. As an auditory person, I long to hear verbal compliments. That is why I scored the highest in Words of Affirmation when I completed the Five-Love-Languages test (www.5lovelanguages.com). Knowing that expressing messages through speech is not my husband’s forte, I have to accept that this emotional tank of mine will not be filled by my husband. I constantly have to rely on God’s assurances and His words for me to fuel my tank. Yes, it can be disappointing and at times feel lonely. And the enemy sure often uses this vulnerability of mine to attack our marriage. It is up to me each time to choose my response. Do I keep wallowing into that downward spiral of self-pity? Or do I look up and hold onto God’s promises? Yes, while it is absolutely fine to whine to God a bit (as King David did throughout the Psalms), at the end, King David always came out and praised God for His goodness. And I choose to look at my husband’s other strengths and trust that my husband is the person most suitable for my sanctification.
Why does God put two vastly different people together as a couple? To teach us humility, surrender and forgiveness. It also expands our perspectives and enriches our lives. Can you imagine how boring this world would be if there is only one type of learning style? We may not have arts, music or sports! Without my ‘visual’ photographer husband, there would be a lot less photos in the house that capture our family’s stories. Without my husband deciding on the exterior landscaping and the interior renovation of our home, our house would be a lot less appealing. I’m truly thankful and appreciative of his talents. Now I realize it is actually a blessing to enjoy the creativity of our God through different learning styles.
Written by: Felicia Fan
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