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The Way We Think: Learning Styles & Marriage


As homeschooling has developed and grown over the years, many families have discovered a fantastic reality: school doesn’t always have to look like school! Homeschoolers have the beautiful freedom to tailor an education to a single child. This fall, I don’t have to walk my youngest through fifth grade the same way I taught his older sisters. By the time my eighth grader reaches her junior year of high school, the practical details of her daily work load will shape up very differently than it will with my oldest this year, even if they take the exact same courses!

To accomplish this customization, I have spent years exploring learning styles and special needs. Processing every bit of information I’ve taken in – even information about needs none of my children have – I’ve been able to explore what does and does not work for each child. And, I learn something new every single year. It’s a journey of constant discovery, and exploring how they learn has allowed me to get to know my children in a very precious way.

Learning Styles & Marriage

For some reason, though, until recently I have never really contemplated how learning styles affect marital relationships. It’s not that I haven’t pondered the way my husband learns, especially the ways his mental processing differs from mine. I have. That sort of observation just comes naturally to me, so I’ve observed his learning style for years and marveled at our differences. But, although you’d think it obvious for someone like me to make the connection, I have never really reflected on how our learning differences have impacted our marriage, for good or for ill.

Fortunately, even if I haven’t reflected on that impact, I have automatically responded to it over the years.
Consider these realities:

How we learn affects how we present information. If we learn best through picture or illustration, we will use as much illustration as possible when passing information on to others. If we are more black and white, then we will be direct and pack as much information as possible into a short amount of speech.

We receive what others are communicating based on the way our brains process information. Consider the presentation thoughts and turn them around. How would you receive information offered by someone who presents differently than you do?

Misunderstandings often arise based on differences in mental processing, sometimes resulting in fights and anger simply because of communication differences.

Now, stop and think for a moment. How do you process information? How do you explain what you’re thinking? How does that compare to your spouse’s methods of processing and communication?

Here’s another point to ponder. Does your spouse communicate and process with you the same way he does with other people?

All of these thoughts and realizations rained down on me just recently as I described something I was thinking to my husband. He doesn’t need word pictures, but I do. And, on so many occasions, he has patiently listened as I’ve described my word pictures in detail, processing out loud as I try to explain to him what I’m thinking. Meanwhile, another recent conversation made me realize that he’s comfortable communicating with me in ways that he does not communicate with others, leading to unique discussion situations that do not occur anywhere else in his life. So, I have to evaluate our private conversations differently than I do our public conversations.

Oh, what an impact his patience and my discernment – or lack thereof on both accounts – have on our marriage!

There is no single solution for effective communication in marriage. But, when we make the effort to have a well-rounded understanding of our spouses and their personalities, our ability to communicate with one another can grow by leaps and bounds.

Originally published at Used with permission.

In addition to working as managing editor for HEDUA, Ann is a missionary kid, second generation homeschooler, pastor's wife, and mom of three. She loves encouraging and equipping others, especially women in the homeschooling and ministry communities.

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