Tag Archives: communication

For wives only… (part 2) – 3 steps to take when your husband doesn’t seem to care

My last post was directed to wives about the importance of communicating with their husbands.  If a husband isn’t loving his wife well, one of the best things that can help is for the man to understand what “loving her well” means.  And the best way to do that, is for his wife to talk with him about it.

But, the sad reality is that sometimes a wife can do a great job of communicating exactly what is frustrating her, or what she NEEDS her husband to do, or an area she’s not feeling loved….but he either doesn’t hear her, or he just doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it.  YIKES!  So wives, what do you do now??!!  Unfortunately there is no magic solution for this,  but I do have three steps you can take to address it.

1.  Don’t forget to pray

This is the MOST important step!  When you try to solve a problem without relying on God, it’s like a blind person trying to drive through Atlanta traffic…it’s  not woman_prayinggoing to happen…at least not well.  With God, all things are possible…not for YOU to accomplish, but for GOD to accomplish through you.  When you’ve communicated an issue, but your husband doesn’t seem care or doesn’t change, you’re not dealing with a knowledge issue, you’re dealing with a HEART issue.  And God is the only one that can change that.  So talk with God.  Let Him know what you need help with.  Let Him know what you hope for your husband.  Trust Him to affect the change in HIS timing.  And keep at it!  Remember, just because it doesn’t change right away, doesn’t mean God is not hearing you.  Stay faithful and “cast all your cares upon Him.”  And don’t do this alone!  Find a prayer group, or a women’s bible study, or simply a friend or two that will support you in praying.  This will help provide more prayer as well as encourage with (hopefully) godly advice as you work through it.

2.  Don’t gossip

I know this is going to be tempting, but if your husband is not loving you well and doesn’t seem to care about your needs, don’t trash talk him with your girlfriends.  This will not gossipaccomplish anything positive.  It only creates an atmosphere of negativity which is contagious and self-perpetuating…meaning your friends will be likely to focus on the negative aspects of THEIR husbands, and you will continue to focus on the negative aspects of yours.  Never-NEVER put your husband down to other people.  The only exception is this…as I mention in the prayer section above, it can be good to talk with a friend (in confidence) to have their support and advice.  There is a lot of purpose in this, but it is very different than unloading pent up frustrations to a group of people.

3.  Don’t give up

If you don’t see a change in your husband after talking with him and praying for him, it can be easy to get discouraged and want to give up.  Change almost ALWAYS takes time, so DON’T GIVE UP!   This can be a tricky one, but you should keep talking about the issue 1-Dont-give-upwith your husband.  Now here’s why this is tricky…it can be VERY EASY for this to turn into nagging.  When this happens, many men push even farther away from what is being asked of them.  However, it IS important to talk about things like this more than once.  Try talking about it from a different angle.  Try helping him to see from your perspective in a way he may not have realized before.  And make sure there is a good bit of time between this and the last time you brought the subject up.  There are two reasons to keep bringing it up.  One is that sometimes guys need to hear things more than once for it to sink in (I’m raising my hand here!).  And two is that maybe God has been working on his heart since the last time you talked.  Maybe NOW he is able to hear you better.  But like I said, be very careful about bringing something up too frequently, this can cause more harm than good.

My advice to you (women):

If you’ve communicated with your husband about an issue where you need him to show you love more, but he doesn’t seem to respond, remember these steps.  Start with prayer because it will be the MOST important thing you can do.  Remember to not put him down with your friends while you work through things.  And don’t give up!  Keep praying, and keep talking with him about it.  Just make sure any conversations you have are respectful and full of love and humility on YOUR part or they will not be received well.

Also realize that change can take time.  It may happen after talking about it once, or it could be after praying for 10 years.  Be faithful in loving your husband well trusting that God will work in His timing

My advice to you (men):

What issue has your wife been trying to communicate with you about?  What area does she need to feel love from you in that you’re not giving her?  Does she feel alone in housework?  Does she feel alone in child raising?  Does she feel like you don’t make spending time with her a priority?  What has she told you that you haven’t responded well to?  Don’t make her bring it up over and over.  Put your selfishness aside and think about what you can do to START loving her well in that area.

For wives only…

Usually my posts are directed to guys talking about some way they can love their wives in a way that reflects God’s calling to them in their role as a husband.  But today I’m going to mix things up.  I still want to promote husbands loving their wives, but I want to address a VERY important aspect of developing this.  And that is…their wives!

There is a type of marriage relationship that grieves my heart, and unfortunately it is very common.  Let me paint a picture of it.  The husband works all day and comes home in the afternoon.  When he gets home, he’s minimally interested in spending time with his kids or connecting with his wife.  The family eats together and the evening is spent with the husband and wife doing separate things.  Then they go to sleep and the next day is the same thing again.  The couple feels more like roommates than best friends and lovers.  They WANT a better relationship, but don’t know how to get it.  The work seems too hard, so they don’t bother.  Maybe there is a lot of stress at home too.  Maybe the wife is frazzled because she’s doing all the housework and all the taking care of the kids.  Maybe the husband doesn’t feel like it’s his job to do those things because he “worked all day”, and his wife has been home doing “whatever she wants to”, and as a result there is tension between them.  But addressing it just leads to fights, so it’s generally left un-dealt with and is repeated again the next day.

The posts I write on my blog are mostly focused on encouraging the husband to break this cycle.  I try to find different ways to share ideas for men to love their wives.  But, I feel probably the BIGGEST thing that can help with this problem is communication from their wives.  At my job, one thing I often tell people that our group works with is, “the only problem we can’t fix is the one we don’t know about.”  This is true for marriages too.  A man can’t take steps to fix something unless he is aware that it is an issue.  So…ladies…here are some things you can do to help your husband love you…

  • Communicate about workload at home:  Many guys grew up in a house where their mothers did ALL the housework, so that’s what they feel is normal.  Many guys are tired after working and if their wife stays home, they feel she should take care of 29005463074937079090981336945nALL the cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc.  Also, many guys are selfish (trust me on this…firsthand knowledge here!) and just don’t want to help out.  If this is happening in your marriage, you need to talk about it.  If your husband is at work “all day”, he needs to understand that you are all work “all day” too…either working a job or working at home.  We are very blessed for Julia to be able to stay at home, and I think she does more work than me during the day!  For a husband to come home and assume HIS work is done is show his selfishness and lack of respect for what his wife does.  Sometimes fixing this could be as simple as a bit of communication…simply asking for help…telling him you feel like the expectation placed on you has been unfair.
  • Kid responsibilities: This is pretty much the same as the above paragraph.  Does your husband share the responsibility of taking care of the kids (feeding, diapers, taking to sports, baths, putting to bed, etc)?  Just like household chores, this should NOT just be the wife’s responsibility.  If your husband is leaving what feels like an unfair amount of this work to you, have a talk about it.
  • Initiate dates: Ideally I’d like to see guys doing this, but if they’re not, the important thing is for you two to get some time together.  If your husband is not taking the lead in it…give it a jumpstart and set it up yourself.  Maybe after going out on a date or two, he may realize the importance.  Then, maybe you can encourage him (in a loving way) that you’d love it if he was more proactive in scheduling them too.
  • Tell him where you “love tank” is at:  It’s important that you occasionally let him know how your “love tank” is doing.  Is he showing you love in the ways you need?  If not, sometimes it just takes a conversation to help remind him of what you need.

And probably the most important point to make about this ideas is the need to make sure communication is done WELL.  By this I mean respectfully and with love rather than with accusations, sarcasm or spite.  For example…

Bad communication:

  • Effective-Communication-TipsWhy don’t you get off your butt and do that yourself!”
  • “Maybe if you’d take me out on a date every once in a while…”
  • “Maybe I should just go buy myself flowers sometime, because you’re obviously not going to!”
  • “She’s your daughter too!  Why don’t YOU change her diaper sometime!”

Good communication:

  • “Hey honey, I realize the bathrooms haven’t been cleaned in a while, and I’m sorry that I haven’t gotten to it.  It’s been tough because I’m so busy doing other things during the day.  I know you work hard too just like I do, but do you think we could maybe come up with some sort of plan to divide up some of the chores around the house?  Because right now, I feel alone in taking care of them.”
  • “Hey, I really miss us getting time alone together to go out.  I’d love if we both tried to make it a priority to go on dates together.  Are you interested in organizing them, or would it help if I helped plan them?”
  • “Hey babe, I’m having a really rough time taking care of our daughter.  I’m exhausted every day and REALLY could use more of a hand in sharing the responsibilities.  Do you think you would be able to help with…”

***IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER*** – Now what if you’ve DONE these things, but your husband doesn’t seem to hear you or care?  What do you do then???  This is a very real problem and I’m going to talk about it in my next post, so stay tuned!

My challenge to you:

Ladies…if there is an issue in your marriage, don’t just write it off because your husband is lacking in something.  Find a non-threatening way to bring it up so you can talk about it.  Generally men will be receptive to hearing what you have to say, and actually doing something about it…if they are able to understand where you’re coming from…and don’t feel like you’re attacking them.

Men…if your wife talks to you about something, don’t get your back up.  Listen to what she has to say, try to understand her perspective, and think about what you can do about it.

Possibly my WORST trait as a husband…

active-listeningI stink at listening.  Seriously…I’m bad at it.  USUALLY, when someone introduces themselves to me, I’ve forgotten their name 2 seconds later…I’m not exaggerating.  I wrote a couple months ago about how I’ve been trying to work at listening when I’m BUSY, but there is so much more to this issue to work on.

I’ve recently realized how my poor listening skills can really hurt my relationship with my wife.  For us to have a great relationship, we need to be able to communicate.  But, for communication to work, there needs to be good talking AND listening from both parties.  If I don’t give her attention when she speaks, and if I don’t attempt to really understand what she’s trying to say, then I am telling her that I don’t really care about what she wants to communicate.

Recently, I started reading a book called The Lost Art Of Listening.  It has been so good for me to help identify areas I need to work on.  In addition to listening when I’m busy, I’ve been working on the following areas.  Do any of these sound familiar to you?

1. Zoning out:  Sometimes I start off so great.  Someone is talking…I’m listening…everything is perfect!  But then, I think about something from work…or a tv show I watched…or dinner.  And then, I realize that I have no idea what was just said over the last minute!  Does this happen to anyone else?!  And then the worst happens…”so what do you think?”  Oh man…I don’t even know what the question was!  Forget about being embarrassed by being caught not paying attention, the real shame is that I missed a chance to learn something they wanted to share with me.

2. Thinking about what I want to say next:  I’m guilty of this WAY too much.  It seems like a practical thing to do in order to keep a conversation going smoothly…am I right, or am I right?  But, I find that usually when I’m thinking about this, I COMPLETELY miss the rest of what they’re trying to share.  I’ve been trying to stay present more.  I know that If I lose my train of thought…that’s ok.  A lull in the conversation is not the ultimate doom that I always though it was…it’s ok.  It’s much better to hear what they’re saying and to go from there.

3. Trying to solve the problem rather than listen:  Yeah this is like EVERY DAY!  I don’t know why it is, but if there is a problem, my reaction is ALWAYS to give advice to fix it.  After 12 years of marriage, I realize that Julia doesn’t want me to solve her problems, she wants me to listen and understand.  I still don’t quite get it…but I’ve learned to accept it.

4. Hearing words, but not the meaning behind them:  If Julia and I both hear someone say something, it’s very common for us to come away with 2 totally different perspectives on what they just said.  (Spoiler alert…she’s usually right)  Julia has an uncanny ability to understand people in ways I just don’t.  So, given my lack of intuition, I find that I often hear things Julia says to me, but make wrong assumptions about what she’s trying to communicate.  I’ve been trying to use the phrase, “…so what I hear you saying is…”.  This is very helpful in summarizing what I THINK she’s saying.  This gives her the chance to either correct me if I didn’t connect with her meaning…or it allows her to go deeper in sharing more.

5. Doing other things while listening:  I like being productive.  If I’m having a conversation with someone that is not very deep, chance are I’m trying to do something else during it, like doing something on the computer, or putting away dishes, or something.  It’s not that I’m in the middle of something, it’s just that talking takes time, and then I think of all the other things I could be doing with that time!  The problem is that doing this shows the other person that I’m not THAT interested in what they’re saying.  This could be ok if I’m talking about a tv show, or what happened at work that day.  But, if I’m talking about something important, it doesn’t go over well.  In situations like this, I’ve been trying to listen with my body.  By this I mean, facing my body to them, not doing anything else, and making eye contact.

None of these things come naturally to me, so it has been quite a challenge.  But, I have to tell you that just thinking about them has made practicing listening SO much easier, and has really changed my actions A LOT.  As a result, I’ve found a MUCH better connection to Julia!  It’s amazing how good communication can grow a relationship!  :-)

My advice to you:

If you struggle with listening as I do, I encourage you to think if any of these points I made sound familiar to you.  If they do, start trying to make small changes in how you communicate with your wife or anyone you talk with.  If you enjoy reading, I encourage you to check out The Lost Art of Listening.

Stale Grandma Biscotti

IMG_2932I despise lazy weekend days.  I know that may seem strange to many of you, but I do.  I love Saturdays, but only when I have a project I’m working on, or an activity I’m doing, or some friends I have plans to hang out with.  I can do lazy for a couple hours, but then I get antsy and start wandering around the house looking for things to do.  One of my go-to activities to fill these lazy times is baking.  If I’m not going to do anything productive, I figure I might as well use my time to make some sort of awesome dessert!  Cookies, brownies, truffles, cinnamon rolls, muffins…whatever mood I happen to be in.  I’ll look online, find something that looks yummy and try it out.

IMG_2488One day, I was in one of these moods and after pacing around the kitchen, I announced that I was going to make some biscotti.  Now biscotti had been one of my staples to make.  They take some effort, but turn out good and are fun to do.  Well, after hearing about my plan, Julia offered her opinion in the form of, “why don’t you make some chocolate chip cookies instead?”  I was a little confused.  Since I already had my plan made, I didn’t really want to change, but wanted to find out the root of why she suggested the change, so I asked her if she didn’t like biscotti.  She responded, “they taste like stale grandma cookies!”  Ouch!  I did not see that coming.  So you know what I did?  I made chocolate chip cookies.  Why?  Because they’re awesome!  And because if I’m going to make something awesome…it might as well be something Julia wants too.  And…that was the last time I made biscotti.

Fast forward about a year.  I was making something in the kitchen the other day when Julia asked me, “Why don’t you ever make biscotti anymore?  Those were SO good!”  I laughed to myself and related to her my last memory of trying to make them.  She was so embarrassed and apologized, and we both laughed about it.  Apparently she actually does like them.  Apparently she just wasn’t in the mood for them that day and thought cookies would have been better.  So, about a week later, during some nothing-going-on time, I made some more biscotti.  They were awesome…and the world rejoiced.

My challenge to you:

Be careful with your words.  This scenario wasn’t a big deal.  I wasn’t hurt and we didn’t suffer from lack of desserts (which would have been the true crime), but it is a good example to show how one small statement, that may not be what you actually mean to say, can be taken to heart and can change someone’s actions.  Imagine if you made a flippant remark to your wife about an outfit, or her looks, or something she’s done for you.  What kind of impact do you think that would have on her?  Do you think she would remember it?  Say what you mean and mean what you say.

5 secrets to prevent fighting over finances

marriage-money“You know what really makes our marriage amazing…finances!”…said no person ever.  It’s no secret that financial issues are the number one conflict in marriages.  In our society today, practically ALL of our lives center around money…the house we live in, the cars we drive, the food we eat, the activities we’re in, the clothes we wear, how much we tithe, etc.  And the one immutable fact about money is…when it’s gone…it’s gone!  So, in a marriage it is easy to see how a couple, who lives together and shares expenses, could easily have conflict.

I feel PRETTY good (and I use that term loosely) about how Julia and I balance finances.  I think we communicate pretty well and I’m lucky that Julia is so responsible with money.  However, we STILL argue about money from time to time.  I want to share some tips that I’ve found to be helpful in this area.  We haven’t mastered them yet, but I think they are all good things to consider…

1. Treat any income as joint income

If you and your wife both work, nothing promotes selfishness and mistrust quite like keeping your money separate.  Treat any income as FAMILY income.  Combine it and decide together what to do with it.  Separate bank accounts might sound good to the one who earns the higher income, but it creates a hierarchy of importance in the relationship…which is never good.  At work, I’ve heard from several different guys how when annual bonus time comes around, they turn off the automatic deposit for their paycheck…so they can get their bonus money and do whatever they want with it without their wife knowing about it.  Please, for your sake…don’t do this.

2. Don’t hide purchases from your wife

No matter how you keep track of purchases, there is always some way to “get away with” buying something that your wife doesn’t know about.  What I mean is…imagine you have a budget category for electronics, clothes, games, food, etc and you want to buy something but don’t have enough money in the budget for it.  There is often a way to get around this and buy it without your wife knowing that you spent money you weren’t supposed to (especially if you’re the one who takes care of the finances).  DON’T DO IT!  You wouldn’t want her to do it to you, so set the right example and be honest with what you do.

divorce-money-fight3. Budget together

One of my favorite times of the year…budgeting time!!  Julia doesn’t share my enthusiasm for it, but I make sure that she has input into what we do.  Whatever method you use, make sure both you and your wife have a say in the process.

4. Don’t make large financial decisions without being in agreement

Make sure anytime you’re making a decision that involves finances for something larger than your normal expenses that you both are talking about it and are in agreement.  It drives me crazy when I see those commercials about someone buying a new $50,000 car and putting a bow on it for a surprise gift.  Really?…you’re not going to talk about that first?

5. Pray about finances

When you’re budgeting, or deciding about large purchases, don’t rely on your own instincts.  Pray about whether or not it is a good idea.  Ask God to give you wisdom and an unselfish heart.  If you apply this to financial decisions, especially if you pray TOGETHER, it will help make sure you’re on the same page…not just with your wife…but with God.  Remember that God is the one who gave you the money, so keep that in mind when deciding what to do with it.

My advice to you:

No matter where you are, we all need to make sure we’re being healthy in our marriage relationship where finances are concerned.  All of the above advice can be summed up by…don’t be selfish, talk about money, remember that God gave it to you.