Get Your Husband to Listen to You
By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com It’s a common complaint among women. Men don’t listen as well as women feel they should. Though women often blame the men, could it be that the ladies are partly to blame for the communication breakdown? Yes and no.
According to authors Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby, the fault does not lay with one gender or the other. Men and women simply communicate differently because their brains are wired differently. However, there are steps that women can take to improve communication with the men in their lives, if they are willing.
In their book, How to Get Your Husband to Listen to You, the authors let women in on the secrets of communicating with men. They explore how men think, how they speak, and what they hear (or don’t hear) when women talk.
Perhaps you are wondering why the authors feel women should be the ones to change. Can’t men learn how to communicate better with women rather than the other way around?
Actually, no. Women are wired in their brains to be more relational, and it is much easier for them to adapt their communication styles to various audiences. Females do this all the time, the authors say, when they talk with friends, children, and co-workers.
Adapting to their husbands’ communication styles is just another way of fulfilling womens' God-given roles as helpers to their mates. And it makes for a much happier marriage.
A big part of the problem, the authors say, is that women do not realize how different men are from their female friends.
“I think a woman’s expectations often create some of the conflict because her female friends, her sisters, and her co-workers that are female, they get her style of communication and give it back to her,” says author Connie Grigsby.
Once women understand and accept these differences, communication becomes much easier. Here are four tips from the book.
Hinting doesn’t work.
Women often beat around the bush when communicating with their husbands because they don’t want to come across as demanding, the author says. This works with other women, but not with men.
"If a woman is speaking to another woman, she can throw out a hint and say something like, ‘Oh, I am so tired right now. I don’t know what we’re going to have for dinner.’ And her girlfriend will say, ‘Why don’t you go out?’ or ‘I’ll bring you dinner.’"
"She will get that fishing line that’s been thrown out. The girlfriend or sister will take it, understand it, run with it, and give her some feedback, exactly what she wanted to hear," Grigsby says.
“If a woman says to her husband, ‘I am so exhausted, I’m not sure what we’ll have tonight for dinner because I’m just so tired,’ he may suggest lasagna because he’s not decoding and processing what she is really saying.”
A better option, the author says, would be for women to simply tell the men that they are too tired to cook and ask if the family could enjoy a dinner out.
“Guys do well with direct talk,” Grigsby says. “They hear what is asked of them. They can say yes or no. They know where they stand, and you don’t put them in that scary field of trying to think what does she really mean?”
Nagging doesn't work.
Constantly nagging husbands to do things will also produce undesirable results.
“Nagging is so demeaning and demoralizing to a man. It makes him feel like a child,” Grigsby says. “When a woman nags, what she is doing is saying in a sense, ‘I’m going to put my thumb on you until you finally do whatever it is I’m asking you do to. And then I may still be irritated because it took you so long to do it, and I had to “help” you so much to remember.’ A man will shut down and withdraw when this happens.”
Women may be successful at getting their husbands to do what they want, but most likely the men will harbor resentment against their wives. The result is men that act cold and distant, not the long-term result that wives want.
If women have to ask their husbands a second time to do something, Grigsby says, ask as if it is the first time.
“Don’t say, ‘I can’t believe this! How many times does it take?’” she says. “It’s so much more effective when something needs to be done to ask your husband to do it, or to remind him to do it, but to keep that dignity in your tone of voice.”
Respect is the way to your man’s heart.
The key to fostering good communication with men, and the key to warming their hearts, is respect.
“Just like being loved and cherished is the lifeblood for a woman, respect is the lifeblood for a man,” Grigsby says. “I think women struggle with this because they feel like their husbands need to earn this respect.”
But forcing men to earn respect from their wives was never God’s plan, she says. In fact, Scripture instructs women that it is their gentleness and reverence that may win a disobedient husband to the Lord.
“We’re talking about a disobedient husband that gets to receive or should receive that kind, gentle, reverent behavior,” Grigsby says. “So we need to stop thinking our husband has to earn it. We need to start thinking just the very nature of the role they fulfill, which is husband, demands my respect.”
Giving men the respect that they crave opens their hearts and they are more receptive when their wives talk, the author says. Failing to respect them is the quickest way to make them distance themselves from their wives.
“What we really do is shoot ourselves in the foot,” she says, “because when we withhold it, it makes for an unhappy, withdrawn man, which is a very lonely and isolated feeling for a woman.”
Change is possible.
Her advice comes out of her own experiences. Grigsby says she had reached a breaking point in her marriage years ago. She realized that if something didn’t change, the marriage was destined to fail. What needed to change most, Grigsby says she discovered, was herself.
At the time, she felt that her husband was not giving as much as she was to the relationship.
“I’d been thinking I did enough of the work for the first several years, and that now it was Wes’ turn to change. I’m just going to chill out and let him do the changing because he needs to carry some of this load,” she says. “Well, Wes didn’t get any of that. That’s not what he was thinking. He just knew we were in a mess.”
Once she decided to do things God’s way, she says, the Lord began to work in her marriage.
“I humbled myself before the Lord,” Grigsby says. “I acknowledged my failure. I asked forgiveness for what I had done. And without any announcement to Wes I just began to do things God’s way. I began to step out of my stubborn zone, and I began to invest in that marriage and in my husband. It’s a very rare husband who won’t respond to that.”
Rather than waiting on husbands to change, women often need to take the first step. Most men really want to please their wives and enjoy a happy marriage, she says, but they don’t know how to get there.
“If a woman will step out and begin to move forward, many times her husband will follow that lead,” she says.
Want more tips for getting your husband to listen to you? Purchase the book.
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