How often does it happen?
She starts to talk about something that’s bothering her. She’s been thinking about it all day . . . something she’s carefully considered, something important to her.
He sits there, looking her direction, nodding his head and doesn’t pick up the thread of the conversation . . . changes the topic . . . or doesn’t say anything at all. Or, he senses he’s the target of the narrative (we’re really good at that!) and gets defensive – and the walls go up.
You’re not listening to me.
But I am listening.
You might be listening, but you’re not hearing me.
Sound familiar? Lisa has said those words many times. Husbands having trouble with “hearing” is pretty typical when you women talk about where we’re missing it.
But if you’ll help us, we can learn to hear!
When you discuss something close to your heart, something a little raw, does is resemble two people next to a fire, taking turns throwing gasoline on the flames until someone gets burned?
It doesn’t take much of that kind of heat before you tell yourself . . . I’ll never do that again.
But that’s exactly what the Enemy of Love wants – two people who answer the question, ‘Do you love your spouse?’ correctly, but don’t share love deeply.
Or, perhaps you’re the woman who’s just so good at saying what needs to be said that your man never hears your heart because he can’t tell the difference between being attacked and you sharing your feelings.
Hard conversations – necessary but . . . who likes those?
Why not avoid them – fix breakfast, get the kids to their activities, smile at church, make love, go to work, keep the wheels on the wagon? Isn’t it better just to stuff it . . . keep those frustrations, those concerns, to yourself? No, of course not. That only leads to a dry and dead place.
Don’t settle for a functional marriage. Shoot for what the Bible calls normal – a fulfilling, open, tender, giving, safe, Song-of-Solomon marriage.
Here’s how you can help him to hear your heart. . . .
1) Avoid speaking in the moment of emotional intensity. Wait until later.
The need to speak is not as intense as the urge you’re feeling to blurt it out right now. Purpose not to discuss important issues in the heat of moment. Wait until you’ve both cooled down and gained some distance and perspective.
2) Before you share something difficult, take time to pray – not a quick one-liner – take time.
If it is important enough to risk some friction, then seeking the mind of the Lord before you speak is the path of maturity and wisdom. I’ve often regretted what I’ve said. I’ve never regretted taking the time to pray about what God would have me say.
3) Be prepared for an unexpected answer . . . from God.
You have priorities, so does God. He might want you to hold off . . . to say nothing . . . except to Him.
But, God, this is driving me nuts! I want to deal with it now!
Could it be He’s saying, “Not yet, wait, pray, let Me work”? The Holy Spirit is better at changing your man than you are. God desires to speak with power into his life.
4) God has far more to do in you than through you.
“Wait a minute, this isn’t about me.” Well, actually, it is. God hasn’t stopped working in you just because you have something hard to say to your man. This situation is for your growth, too. Do you have a yielded heart?
5) Bless him before you “go there.”
What things say, “I love you” to your man . . . a favorite dinner . . . a warm embrace….listening about his day?
Spend the day expressing that love. Remember, affirming words are powerful. I really appreciate . . . The kids think you’re….You’re so good at . . .
A man who doesn’t feel like a failure in everything can more easily hear criticism about something. Feeling loved improves hearing.
6) Don’t accuse.
You always, You never, You’re so . . .
Share your feelings based on what you think has been happening, allowing that you might be wrong. I might not be seeing things clearly . . . but when you do that/say that, it makes me feel like you don’t care.
7) Without interruptions.
Pick a quiet spot away from the kids and distractions.
8) Don’t decide beforehand what answer will make you happy.
Trust God to be at work in his life. You can walk in holiness regardless of the response….Yes, you really can! This is about what God is doing in both of you. His timetable might be (often is) different than yours.
Life isn’t perfect, but God’s plan and timing are. Is the Spirit of God directing you in what to say and in how to say it? He will if you draw near, listen, and follow where He leads. And when you walk in communion with Him, it’s easier for your man to hear your heart.
Matt Jacobson is the founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage and parenting ministry providing written and couples marriage coaching. He is author of the bestseller 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!)