Communication is at the heart of a healthy and happy marriage. As men and women are wired differently, we often have different expectations on what communication means.
While talking about their day is sufficient to check the communication box for most men, wives may be expecting more in-depth conversations. Women tend to be more in touch with their feelings and desire to have their heart “heard”. Very often, conversations from a woman’s point of view are about making emotional connection as well as relaying information.
Communication is at the heart of a healthy and happy marriage.
So how do we as women communicate to be sure our husband is listening to, and truly getting, what we say? Besides what we say, how we say it and when we say it also affects the way our messages are received.
Here are some strategies to help our spouse listen better.
1. Speak calmly
The delivery of our words is just as important as the content. When I hear myself sounding agitated or speaking at a higher frequency, I’ll take a time out and change my tone.
It’s easy to get swept up by our emotions when we want to get our point across, but this ought to be no excuse to speak unkindly. When others speak unkindly or loudly to us, our wall of defence naturally goes up. Aggression is a turn-off and causes the other party to feel attacked, thus limiting the effectiveness of our communication. To truly achieve mutual understanding, we should watch what we say as well as how we say it.
If a touchy issue has the potential to blow up, collect your thoughts and share your points of view calmly. Choose your words and tone with care, and it’ll likely result in a more fruitful discussion.
It’s easy to get swept up by our emotions when we want to get our point across, but this ought to be no excuse to speak unkindly.
2. Choose the right time
Timing is everything and that applies to conversations with our husband too. The worst times to speak to our husband are:
- The moment he walks through the front door
- When he is tired at the end of the day
- When he is hungry
So when is a good time to talk? Pick a time when he is most relaxed. If need be, find a good time and put it on his calendar. Important issues that need to be resolved ought to be given sufficient time and attention instead of being swept under the carpet or making a rash decision.
Some husbands (like mine) are natural problem solvers, so it may be wise to give them time to mull over an issue before diving into it. Explain why the matter requires a serious discussion and why his input matters. When husbands feel that their views carry weight, they will be more willing to contribute to the conversation.
3. Mean what you say
You know how voiceovers in movies let you in on what’s going through a character’s mind? Well, unfortunately, there isn’t anything like this in real life to help your husband read your mind. Very early on in our marriage, my husband put out a disclaimer that he will take my words at face value.
“Say what you mean and mean what you say,” he quipped. If I said nothing, even though I was sending him telepathic waves that it’s not okay, my husband will assume I meant it and not try to second guess me.
Naturally, that led to a lot of frustration on my part because I harboured false hopes that he would pick up my emotional cues, like crossing my arms or that ever slight grunt at the end of my sentences. What can I say…mind games are tiring. I learnt this the hard way after countless incidents and now it’s so freeing to be able to speak my mind and mean what I say.
The next time you want to get a point across, try using “I would love it if ...” statements. Like, “I would love it if you can check your emails after dinner” or “I would love it if you can make time for a date this weekend.
The next time you want to get a point across, try using “I would love it if ...” statements.
4. Speak to him as a wife
When we speak to our husband, do we sound like his wife or his mother? While women desire to feel loved, men feel love when they are respected.
Nagging is the opposite of trust and respect as it signals to the men that they are incapable, unreliable, and undependable – traits that undermine their desire and ability to lead the family. Constant nagging can cause husbands to tune out. But here’s the good news: It’s actually possible for us to stop nagging!
If you want your husband to pick up his dirty clothes, try telling him nicely instead. Communicate what you want and trust that he will get it done. Learn to temper your expectation too; the laundry may not be hung the way you do it, but don’t sweat the small stuff.
They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If your communication methods have yielded little results in the past, maybe it’s time to tweak your approach, starting by speaking your husband’s heart language – respect. Hopefully, with time and practice, he will grow to be more open and responsive to what you have to say.
Susan is a self-confessed C+ mum who lives for coffee, chocolate and heartfelt connections. As a mum of one she believes that the best parenting style is parenting with intention and shares her motherhood journey on her blog A Juggling Mom.
- What would you like to work on in your communication with your spouse this week?
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