How to Talk so your Husband can Listen — Part 1

A wife complained that she was so stressed and told her husband so.

She felt her husband didn’t listen or understand. His support during the time of her stress was almost nonexistent. He brought the children for ice cream, but when they returned, they weren’t hungry for dinner, he put a few things away, but that was about all he helped with. Leah asked her how she communicated her stress and requests to her husband. She made many mistakes!

There are many ways we feel our husbands aren’t listening:

  1. He’s distracted with phone and emails
  2. We tell him things and he forgets
  3. We tell him things and he ignores
  4. He says he understands but his actions don’t prove he listened
  5. He doesn’t remember the details we told him
  6. We ask him to do things which don’t get done
  7. When we share emotionally troubling things with him which are hard to share, he offers a plan which doesn’t fit our pain
  8. We tell him crucial info (such as a principal calling about our child), and he doesn’t respond “correctly”
  9. When we mention a family member’s bris or other occasion, he’s surprised as if he wasn’t told anything about it!

There are many upsets due to miscommunication and misunderstandings.

The Chazan Ish said that a couple connects with talking and communication. A husband and wife connect spiritually to become one.

Tool Of The Day: H-O-T

  • = How you say it.
  • = Outcome you’re hoping for
  • = Timing

How you say it: Can you change your wording? Tone? It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Plan it! Chazal said that when you speak from the heart, it enters the heart. Thinking before you speak is a way to succeed in that. The husband can be walking on eggshells because he doesn’t know what our mood is and because of that, he doesn’t feel safe in his own home. Do not snap!

Goodness comes if we have self-mastery and do not say the first thing which comes to mind! Our neshama knows what the right thing is. Work on controlling yourself. When you’re communicating something of importance to your husband, structure the logistics of the conversation so there are no cell phone interruptions. Make sure your laptop is closed. Also, make sure you’ve both eaten and slept well.

When it’s safe, a husband wants to listen to his wife. During a conversation, do not attack. The woman in the story above listed all her many stressors and then said, “See what I’m doing?” She could have explained herself and waited for him to say, “I can help out.”

If you have bad communication habits, you must work on this area. There are books on this subject which can help. Know that the payoff for you is a level of closeness and shalom in your marriage, which you never thought possible. The new bonding will be very satisfying. Lots of our communication is harried. When it is safe, a husband will listen.

King Solomon said, “words of the wise, when spoken softly, are heard.”

The following are examples of soft language. Memorize these key phrases:

  1. Is it possible that we could … ? (i.e. eat in 10 minutes)
  2. What do you think if … ? (i.e. we go to my parents for Yom Tov)
  3. Have you thought about … ? (i.e. getting take-out dinner)
  4. Would it be possible to ask you a favor? (This is such a charm)
  5. I have an interesting idea which might appeal to you. What if … ? (i.e. We build our succah early, we go out, etc.)
  6. If you agree, I’d like to … (buy pots & pans, take children for lunch, etc.)
  7. Let me run a few ideas by you to see if you’d agree.
  8. Are you open to hearing thoughts about this?

Try it! When talking with your husband with that level of respect, his ability to respect you will grow! We have to understand that acting like he’s king goes against all media for these past 50 years. It’s not about equal rights. It’s absolutely treating someone with more respect. Why the woman needs to start, no one knows, but the whole relationship can turn around. Respect is what husbands need most in this world. His identity is wrapped up in it.

Feminine Charm: Blunt vs. Soft:

Why am I the only one who works around here?
vs.
Do you mind if you can help with … ?

No one shuts the lights around here!
vs.
Do you have any ideas on getting people to shut off the lights?

There’s no way your parents can sleep here!
vs.
I wonder if you might consider having your parents sleep at our neighbors?

Desired outcome:

We were all granted women’s intuition. If we say, “Why did you leave the milk out,” he will get defensive! When you accuse someone, they go on the defensive and there’s resentment. You need him to put the milk away. You can figure out how to say that!

How about, “oh, I guess I’ll have to go to the store and get more milk. It spoiled here.” Blurting out words so fast is not wise.

Obviously, how we share our emotions are important, as there are long-term ramifications. We don’t have carte blanche to say just anything to our husbands just because we stood under the chuppah together! Hashem put bina yesira into women. We have the unique ability to take important lessons and apply them to current situations.

Timing:

Is this the most productive time to bring this up? Have I complained about much lately? Have a strategy about when to speak with your husband. You want to feel closer after talking with your husband. Make sure you’re both not hungry, make sure the children are sleeping. Plan ahead and tell him you have things to discuss.

It’s a good idea to schedule time together each week. We don’t want to become too busy with everything else and have no time to spend with one another. Our marriage is a priority and we need to connect. Whatever it is you’re dealing with, it’s crucial that you have your husband on board, as he is our support system. Chazal said that a burden shared is a burden halved. Our mesora says that the reason for him to be alive is to make you happy. If you feel like a victim, it’s disempowering.

HOMEWORK: Carefully plan a conversation about something important with your husband while using the H-O-T tools we just learned.

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