Tag Archives: husband

Treat your wife like you would your golf club

2015area-golf

For anyone who has ever learned to play golf, you know how tough it is to learn how to get your swing down.  When you’re trying to do it, there are a million things you’re trying to remember all at once in order to do it right…keep my arm straight, head down, back straight, bend my knees, wait…not that much, don’t swing too hard, what was the first thing again???  One way that helps to learn is to practice a lot focusing on one area at a time until you get it down.  Once that happens, it becomes second nature, and you no longer have to think about THAT thing and you can add in the next.

Loving your wife well can also be very difficult.  And learning to do it right can be taught the same way.  If you don’t feel you do a good job with loving her now, it can be a little overwhelming trying to think through all the things you need to do

  • tell her you love her regularly
  • buy her gifts to show her you value her
  • compliment how she looks
  • be a spiritual leader for her
  • spend time together (alone) on dates or vacations
  • show physical affection (that’s not sex)
  • surprise her by doing things around the house that she normal would
  • etc.

This list is only a small fraction of what loving your wife can look like.  So, how are you supposed to remember it all??  The answer is…you can’t!  Just like swinging a golf club, there is no way I can remember every thing I need to do in the 2 seconds it takes to swing.  However, with enough practice, I don’t have to think about each of the steps, and I’m able to do it automatically.

My advice to you:

If you have areas where you’re not doing a good job loving your wife, don’t try to do it all at once.  Rather, think about focusing on one thing at a time.  If you keep your focus small it’s much easier to remember and to do it right.  Then, after you have created a habit and are able to do it without thinking, add in something else.  Eventually you’ll be able to remember all the things you want to because they will be habits you don’t even need to think about.  So…the question is what ONE area are you going to focus on first??

One of the best compliments I’ve ever received…

IMG_0597I need to be an amazing husband.  Seriously…I do.  I only get one chance to do it right and so much relies on it.  Of course I’m referring to the importance of treating my wife right, leading her in a Godly way, and making her feel loved and supported for who she is.  And also for encouraging her when she needs it and challenging her to be the person God is leading her to be.  But, there is another HUGE reason why my actions are so important.  It’s because future generations are relying on what I do!

Eli, my 8 year old son, sees everything I do.  Every day I see more and more ways that he is JUST like me.  The way I pronounce grapes, grAH-pehys.  The way I make up silly songs about random things.  The way I wake up early in the morning excited to “live life!”  He sees all this and imitates what I do.  His opinion about Julia is the same as well.  When I say, “Eli, did you know your mommy is the greatest mommy in the whole world?!?”, he doesn’t miss a beat and responds with, “YEAH…she is THE BEST!!”  The things I think are cool…he always thinks are cool too.  When we vote for “family member of the day”, Julia ALWAYS wins because we stack the votes.  Of course this does make board games more difficult.  It’s tough to win Sorry when you are ALWAYS the one who gets “sorry’d”.  But, I love it!  :-)  The way I treat Julia is emulated step-for-step by him.

I got one of the best compliments I’ve ever had the other day.  One of my friends has a daughter Eli’s age and they’re great friends.  We like to joke about, “what if they get married some day, wouldn’t that be so cool?”  And of course, no guys want to think about their little girl getting married.  No boy is going to be good enough for them…right??  The comment he made surprised me.  He said, “if Eli treats her the way that Michael treats Julia, then I’d be good with it.”  I teared up a little at that.  Not only did I appreciate the compliment, but it was a sobering reminder to me of the weight that my role as a husband and father has.  How I love Julia will not just impact her, but also whoever Eli marries many  years from now.

And it’s not just a son that will see and learn from you.  Daughters will learn what a man should be like.  How you are will affect what they look for in a guy when they’re old enough to date.  And your friends will learn from the example you set too.  And all of these people will have the ability to affect the next generation in THEIR lives.  So, the impact have grows exponentially…for good or for bad.

My challenge to you:

Take your role as a husband seriously.  Not only is it important in caring for your wife, but other eyes are watching.  Your sons will emulate you.  Your daughters will learn what a man should be like.  Your friends will be subtly influenced as well.  Don’t be a lazy or selfish husband and let that be passed along to the next generation!

How can you love your wife “as Christ loved the church”?

Part of my calling in writing this blog comes from Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it.”  So, what does that mean?  How did Christ love the church and give Himself up for it?  And what does that mean for how I need to love my wife?  Let’s break it down…

For starters, we need to see how Christ loved the church.  What did Jesus do that showed love to others, and how did He give Himself up for them?

  • He served: Washing the disciples’ feet.  Taking time to heal people in need.  (John 13:1-17, Matthew 4:23)
  • He forgave:  The woman caught in adultery deserved to be stoned, but Jesus forgave.  Jesus asked God to forgive the soldiers crucifying Him. (John 4, Luke 23:34)
  • He led:  Everywhere he went, he taught people.  Starting when he was a boy in the temple, and then traveling to villages as an adult and speaking to thousands of people at a time.  He sought other people to come and follow him.  (Luke 2, Matthew 14, Matthew 4:18-22)
  • He took consequences from others: WE deserved death for the sin in our lives, but Jesus DIED in our place.  (John 19)

He gave up time, glory, position, and ultimately even His life to serve and love others.  So, if this is our example, how can you love your wife in the same way?

Serve her:  Ideas are easy to spot for this.  Make dinner, clean the house, do laundry, etc.  Find something that she normally does that is not enjoyable…and do it for her…without her asking.

Forgive her:  Has she ever wronged you?  Has she ever been dishonest about money, or about her time, or maybe said something mean about you to someone else?  These things can really hurt.  The most important thing you can do is to forgive her.  See my earlier post for more thoughts on this.

Lead her:  You may not be a biblical scholar or a genius at family wisdom, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to lead.  Being a leader is not easy and takes a lot of responsibility, but it is worth the effort.  Do what you can to point your relationship with your wife and your family as a whole in the right direction.  See my earlier post for more thoughts on this.

Take consequences:  This was Jesus’s ultimate act of service and love to us.  So, how can you do the same thing for your wife?  What if she broke the side mirror on her car and you swapped cars with her until you could get it fixed?  What if she spilled something in the kitchen and you cleaned it up so she didn’t have to?  What if she accidentally tore her favorite shirt and you used YOUR clothing budget money to go buy her a new one?

My challenge to you:

Are you missing opportunities in any of these 4 areas?  If so, what can you do to change that?  But, don’t just take my thoughts and stop there.  Think through this for yourself.  How did Jesus give Himself up for us?  And in the same way, that is how you need to give yourself up to show love to your wife.

Sometimes…marriage stinks!

Italy 430If I’m gonna be honest…sometimes marriage stinks.  While I never regret being married or wonder if Julia is “right” for me, I have to admit that sometimes marriage is not fun.  There are times I just want to be selfish and only think of myself.  There are times where Julia and I get in a fight and I just don’t want to take the time to put in the effort it requires to get back on the same page.  But, bearing this in mind, marriage is still great.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Julia is the most amazing person…and my best friend.  I wouldn’t want to spend my life with anyone but her!

What I love about our life together is not the sum total of the best experiences.  It’s not the memories of the best dates we’ve been on, plus the funny memories we share, added to the great vacations we’ve been on.  Our life, our relationship, is all of this…PLUS… the fights we’ve had, the times we’ve cried together, the times we’ve been sick, exhausted, and stressed, and the times we’ve said something hurtful to each other.  These moments (just as much as the good memories) are what make us real.  They are what give us a relationship, which is made up of the good and the bad.

The last fight we had was a good example of this.  I don’t remember exactly what it was about, but it had something to do with kale.  Right off the bat, we were both in a bad place.  The loving relationship we had was suddenly replaced by cold stone facades.  Life seemed to be put on hold.  At the moment, all I wanted was to be able to go back and take back my words from a few minutes earlier!  But, here’s what I found out…I listened to her and heard what she was saying and feeling.  Then she listened to me and understood where I was coming from.  And then the facades we put up seemed to magically fall away.  It was an awesome moment of resolution that we were both really proud of and thankful for.  I feel it helped us in our relationship and we learned a lot about what we CAN do when faced with something like that.

But sometimes things aren’t that tidy.  Sometimes we fight, but don’t have a quick and healthy resolution.  Sometimes we’re grieving something that doesn’t go away.  Sometimes we’re exhausted from life and there is no “win” at the finish line to reward us.  At times like these, I try to remember…that’s life.  We can’t pick and choose moments to make up our relationship.  We have to take it all as a package.  But, we CAN use the difficult times to help us be thankful.  We CAN learn from mistakes we make.  

My challenge to you:

When your marriage is having a rough day, remember that it’s just a day.  Learn what you can from it.  And remember to take the bad AND the good and love it ALL as a package.

List of ways to love your wife that you’ve never thought of before!

Ok, so I’m all about finding ways to show Julia I love her.  And I think it’s a great challenge for all husbands to do the same with their wives.  Feeling loved is such a pivotal connection for a wife, and they need to feel it from YOU!  A man who fails to show his wife this will have difficulty creating a genuine intimate relationship with her.

So if it’s so important, you would think this would be easy for all guys to do, but it’s NOT!  Personally, it can take me a while to figure out something that works well.  When I do it’s like…BOOM…EUREKA!…I’M GOOD TO GO NOW!  So, I stick with it.  And then stick with it some more.  And then keep doing it some more.  And eventually I realize that it doesn’t quite have the same impact that it originally did.  Hmm…I don’t understand!  If it blew her socks off the first time, why does it not have the same impact now…after beating it into the ground 100 times??!

So the point I want to make is…always be trying to find NEW ways to show your wife you love her.  The same old thing will STILL be good, but keeping things new will have a much bigger impact.  So, I want to give you a list of ideas to get you thinking…

-Leave sticky notes around the house with messages for her

-Ask if you can watch (insert her favorite TV show/movie) with her

stock-footage-father-and-son-doing-homework-on-the-table-in-the-living-roomAsk her to leave the kids’ homework until you get home so you can do it with them

-Write an “I love you” message on the driveway in chalk

-Pick a random day to celebrate your wife (like a birthday…but not on her birthday)

-Hold hands when walking somewhere

-Sit next to her on the couch

-Pick a book she might like and have “read-aloud” dates at night until you’ve read through it

-When she asks how your day was, think of some details to share rather than just saying “good”

-Ask for her input on something you have to decide about

-Brag about her to other people

-Defend her if your kids are disrespectful to her

-Get up early and proactively make sure the rest of the house is quiet so she can sleep in as long as she wants

044-Get her some flowers

-Get her some chocolates

-Get her some sort of food you know she loves

-Buy her an outfit you think she would like (but keep the receipt)

-Buy her any present

-Make her something out of pictures that is creative and meaningful

-Pray with her

-Schedule a sitter so you can go out on a date

-Plan an at-home date

-Plan a weekend getaway without the kids

-Do the laundry without her asking

IMG_8420Do the dishes without her asking

-Unload the dishwasher when it’s clean

-Plan, shop for, and cook a nice dinner

-Plan, shop for, and cook a week of dinners

-Vacuum the house without her asking

-Clean the bathrooms without her asking

-Pick-up something of yours that is always messy around the house

-Make lunches for the kids without her knowing

-Make an all-day plan to go out with the kids on Saturday so she can have a free day

-Get the kids ready and put them to bed

-Send her a nice email letting her know you were thinking of her

-Handwrite a letter telling her how much you love her

My challenge to you:

Pick a few of the ideas above that stand out to you.  Maybe something you’ve never tried before, or something you think your wife might appreciate.  Then, make a point of doing it!

It’s that time of the year again…!!!

One of my favorite times of the year is here!  No, it’s not the leaves changing, Halloween, or great fall weather (although all of these are fun).  I’m excited about annual budgeting time…woohoo!  We start our family’s fiscal year on October 1st, so late September we get to plan out how we’re going to budget for the next year.  It’s so great!

I spend a bunch of time putting together spreadsheets and running reports from Quicken to see what we spent last year and estimate what we need to do for this year.  Then, Julia and I will sit down and figure out what we want to do.  I think what I love about it is the clean slate it creates.  No categories will be overspent.  We have total freedom (within the budget we create) to spend without feeling bad.

budgetingHere’s the tricky part though…Julia HATES it!  Getting her to want to sit down with me to go through it is like winning the lottery.  So here’s my challenge…because she doesn’t like it, it’s easy for me to want to make decisions without her.  It would be really simple to just budget however I want and just tell her afterwards what it is.  After all, I am the man of the house right?  Can’t I just do whatever I want?

Even though she doesn’t like the process, I feel it is SO important for us to do this together.  It is not MY money to decide what to do with just because we got it from the job I worked.  It is OURS because we work together as a family.  And really, it is not OUR money either simply because we earned it, it is GOD’S money that he has blessed us with.  I want to make sure our family manages that money well in a way that is non-selfish, loving, and responsible.  So an important part of that is to talk with her to hear her opinions on how things should be allocated.  Julia has very good insight and opinions.  Even if she wants to use money for something I didn’t want to, it’s good for me to know that.  If we only made financial decisions based on what I thought was important, I wouldn’t be honoring and loving her.

My challenge to you:

Make sure you and your wife are BOTH involved in your family’s budgeting process.  Even if one of you is more interested than the other, I think it’s incredibly important for you BOTH to have input and honor God together through it.

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.

4 words never to say to your wife…

aTqb45nTMOk, imagine you’re debating with your wife over the best way to pack your car for a road trip.  She wants to put the cooler in the back because it’s the flattest place and you’ll be able to keep all the contents level.  But, you disagree.  You want to put it in the middle, that way it will be easily accessible.  Since you’ve both been packing and loading the car, you’re a little on edge.  You’re stressed and sweaty and start to argue about the all important cooler placement.  Finally to avoid confrontation, you say “FINE, we’ll put it in the back!”  You don’t think it is best, but you don’t want to fight anymore.

A few hours down the road, your wife is thirsty and wants a drink from the cooler.  You respond with a slight air of smugness that she can’t get one because it’s back in the back.  But, she’s really thirsty, and asks if you can pull over.  So, you pull over on the shoulder of the interstate and go open the trunk.  But you still can’t get to it so you have to unload a few bags first.  Finally, you get to the cooler, get out a drink, re-load the bags you moved, and come back around to the front.

As you hand her the drink you have an important decision to make.  What do you say??  I’m going to give you some choices:

  • “I told you we should have put the cooler in the middle!”
  • “Don’t you wish we hadn’t put that in the back now?”
  • “Well, that was annoying!”
  • “Next time, I’m just going to pack the car myself.”
  • Say nothing, but silently indicate that you’re not happy

The best response is…NONE OF THESE!  These are all the WORST!  You feel wronged…I get that.  Yes, your opinion to put the cooler in the middle may have been better, and now you’ve been inconvenienced.  But, nothing is gained by pointing this out to your wife.  Mostly likely she is KEENLY aware of the fact that your idea would actually have been better.  She doesn’t need you to point it out.  By doing so, you’re rubbing it in her face.  This tells her that you think you’re better and you want her to know it, and you don’t care how she feels…as long as she knows you’re right!!

But, what if she gives no indication that she realizes the error of her packing ways.  She is completely clueless to the egregious error she made.  What do you do then???  NOTHING…except get her the darn drink, hand it to her with a genuine smile and ask if there is anything else you can get for her!  You DON’T need to be right.  You DON’T need to point out when she was wrong.  The accomplishes nothing except a feeling of superiority on your part.

Now, imagine you’re on the flip side of this.  Let’s say YOU were the one who wanted to put the cooler in the back, and it becomes apparent that your wife’s opinion was a better one.  TAKE THE HIGH ROAD.  Nothing will make your wife feel better than you saying, “You know what?  Your idea to put the cooler in the middle WAS a better idea.  I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to you.”  How awesome would THAT be!!  There is nothing lost by saying this.  It prevents you from perpetuating tension, and shows her you can be humble.  And it acknowledges to her that you feel she has valuable things to offer.

My challenge to you:

These 4 words, “I told you so” need to be completely taken out of your vocabulary.  If you were right, forget about it.  There is nothing to be gained by rubbing it in your wife’s face.  And if you realize you are wrong, admit it.