Sunday, November 04, 2007

Learning How to Listen to Your Husband

This next Friday, Linda and I head to Tucson. We'll speak at a Women's Saturday Brunch - on the subject that I LOVE to talk about - Marriage.

I'm so thankful that it was God's idea and not mine. I'm so thankful that He's given us a guide book that is FULL of principles for life and how to do life and how to relate to Him and others (biblically).

I had a Coffee Talk Group yesterday, with a few of my older women friends. They are 70+. What a joy it is to sit and listen and sip coffee with them. I asked Joannie, "What do you think I should tell these women about marriage? What is it you wished you'd done different in your marriage with George (who has since passed on)?"

Joannie didn't hesitate. She said to LISTEN. She wished she'd listened to George. Sure reflective, but LISTEN TO HIM.

My husband has coined a phrase: to hear a heart is to win a heart. Wives get easily frustrated in marriage - because they don't slow down and listen. I wrote this advice article some time ago and thought it'd be good for some reader of this post - just today!

Learning to listen to anyone takes understanding, self-control, and a desire to unselfishly care about the other person. Listening is a way to show that I care.

Learning to listen well requires that I become mature. At times, it is easier to put on the “listening mode hat” with someone who does not live with me. They are not close to me and they can not hurt me. I know that I can pride myself with great listening skills outside my home with another person, but the test of my maturity level, love and ability to listen with my heart will be in my relationship with my husband.

Learning to listen to a husband with your heart can sometimes be the most difficult, and the most rewarding.

Listening – getting into their world – is the best gift I can give to my husband, my daughters, or my grandchildren. When I listen to them it says, “I value you.” I am saying, “You are worth it.” When I put my own mental pause button on and practice James 1:19—be quick to listen and slow to speak—I am saying, “You are more important than anything.” It is my home front, and my “up and close personal” relationships where what I am and who I am tested and revealed. My close relationships earn me opportunity for the most character. In them, I can know God's love, and in them, I grow the most.

Two Keys to Learning to Listen
Understanding our Differences
None of us would argue that men and women are different. Clinical research has shown that God wired our brains differently. We think differently. We view situations and problem differently. We even tend to approach solving problems differently. Men tend to view solving problems as an opportunity to demonstrate their competence and resolve. How the problems are solved is not as important as solving it effectively. Women are usually more concerned about how the problem is solved. For us, solving a problem has the potential to affect our sense of “closeness.”

According to Mark Gunger of Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, men’s brains have boxes that are not connected whereas in a woman’s brains everything is connected to everything else. That is why women can be thinking about five different things at the same time. It is why women are generally good at multi-tasking. With a lot of humor, Mark says that there is a special box in a man’s brain called the ‘nothing’ box. He says that’s why a man can at times appear as if he’s doing nothing (like flip the channels on t.v.)

Understanding the Different Thinking Processes
I think an essential element in beginning to listen to our husbands is to understand how God wired their thinking processes. In general, men and women do process information differently. According to clinical & medical psychologist Michael G. Connor, women tend to be intuitive global thinkers.

Generally, we consider multiple sources of information simultaneously. We view a situation in terms of interconnectedness and we understand and view problems all at once. Men on the other hand will tend to focus on one problem at a time. Dr. Connor says that men have an ability to separate themselves from problems and minimize the complexity where as women tend to be overwhelmed by having a harder time separating their personal experience from a problem. Men will understand a problem one piece at a time. They tend to take a linear or sequential perspective.

What impedes learning to listen? Unrealistic expectations!
It has been my observation and my personal experience that women can live within this bubble of “unrealistic expectations” that are subconsciously placed on husbands. A few of those unrealistic exceptions are:
he should think like me,
he should feel like me,
he should act like me and
he should do it within the time frame that I think he should do it – whatever the “do it” might happen to be.

These expectations are unrealistic. They are an internal demand that he measure up. Ultimately they leave a husband, or anyone else feeling unloved, inadequate, cynical, apathetic, or ashamed.

So, NOW, let’s talk about listening to your husband…

I've given you some general understanding about yourself and your husband, and I want to share with you some practical steps to begin to listen to your man.

1. The next time you hear the voice of your husband, pause. Really, pause. Disengage from all the places your mind is going to: dinner, the kids, the cute shoes you saw at the mall today, how tired you are, what the teacher said about your daughter today, the soccer mom who shared that she and her husband are getting divorced and whatever then…

2. If you need to stop what you’re doing then stop. Multi-tasking and listening do not always mix. In reality, they never mix. Besides, most husbands do not like their wife “doing something” while they are talking. We think we can catch everything, but often we do not. I sure don't.

3. Re-engage your mind and tell yourself, “This is my husband talking. This is my man. He is saying something that I need to hear."

4. Take the posture of hanging unto his every word. Linda Fox, one of our Life Coach Moms, uses this phrase. She encourages wives to hang on their mans every word. This might sound nuts, but so many men say so few words that were women to hang on them, they might get more of them. Unfortunately, it can be the wrong woman to hang on his words – like the one at the office. You bet she will hang on your husband’s words – because she wants your husband.

5. When Michael begins to share something, if I do not give him the ‘eye to eye’ attention, generally, he will stop sharing. It is a way that I work on honoring him.

6. As he is speaking, take in his words. You do have a sharp mind and you can capture them. When he is finished, simply say something like, “OK, so, you’re saying…” It’s not necessary to repeat them verbatim, but do capture the essence. He’ll most likely say ‘yes’ cause you are such a good listener. If he continues talking, mirror that phrase too.

7. Just because your husband is saying, something does not mean that you agree with it when you reflect it back to him. You are simply giving him the gift of listening with your heart to his.
So, what do you think? How well do you listen to your husband? How has this post helped you?

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Mrs. Querido said...

I love the part about "hanging on his every word"! I am going to try this today when he gets home. My man is man of very few words so I DO need to hang on the ones that come out of his! Thanks!

Angel said...

Me and my man have been having constant fights lately, and as i was reading this post, the part about the "bubble of unrealistic expectations" sort of describes me well and now that i understand it i will try my best to not let myself from having these unrealistic expectations. thank you!

Anonymous said...

This really helped me. I've been having issues listening to my husband. He doesn't speak much and when he does, I try to listen but can't retain what he told me because I didn't turn my brain off. Thank you so much. I look forward to trying you suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it. With more and more women being dominant and independent like men these days, a lot of them are often stubborn, selfish, and disobedient towards their husbands and they're not good at conversation nor emotions, either. Whereas men are always nagging the wives and such because they think that they should nag and control the wives and that their wives should be silent and submissive and not communicate their needs and feelings. In fact, men are the real nags in relationships, not women.