He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him – Proverbs 18:13

It makes so much sense, and yet we fail to remember it almost every day: you can’t answer a question, or give a solution, before you hear the matter fully.

Parents do it to their kids. They bark orders, or offer counsel, or set the rules without first investigating the situation. They take the easy way—skipping over the patient, selfless, thoughtful work of exploring their child’s heart and mind—and instead provide generic, careless answers to the issues their son or daughter is facing.

Husbands and wives do it to each other. “We’ve been married so long, I’m sure I know what his or her motivation is, why they made that decision or spoke those words.” And so he judges his wife’s heart, or she assumes her husband’s intention.

But he that answers a matter before he hears it fully—before he explores the details of reality—finds that the issue, whatever it is, remains confusing. A solution continually escapes his grasp.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The parents can take the time and effort to carefully unearth the struggles and pleasures their child is experiencing. The husband can control his emotions and ask searching, careful questions in order to better understand his wife’s perspective. The wife can refuse her inclination to judge her husband and instead explore the situation with a charitable and gracious heart.

What about you? Are there any relationships or decisions or problems that you may need to hear more fully before you give an answer or offer a solution?