Today we’re continuing to focus on the answers that I gleaned from my “Men and Openness” survey, in an effort to address some of the hindrances that are present in attempts to communicate between a husband and wife, as well as to point out what encourages better communication. Today I want to focus on the first of those two directions—discerning “what to avoid.”
In my survey, the second question I asked was: “What encourages you to open up about your feelings with your spouse?” I allowed the men to choose all answers that applied.
Here’s a breakdown of their choices from highest to lowest …
52.46% – When I consistently get the sense that she is interested and is “for” me.
50.82% – When she truly listens instead of analyzing or diagnosing me.
47.54% – When she doesn’t pressure me to share or share more than I’m comfortable with.
39.34% – When she shares her feelings with me in a respectful and relaxed way.
31.15% – When she asks me questions that help me to identify how I feel.
So let’s unpack the top three of these answers.
Top Answer: “When I consistently get the sense that she is interested and is ‘for’ me.” With that in mind, I’d say that wives need to …
1. Avoid acting like your feelings matter more than your husbands.
2. Avoid trying to talk to more than listening to his feelings and concerns.
3. Avoid coming at him with a competitive attitude—proving him wrong or one-upping him.
2nd Highest: “When she truly listens instead of analyzing or diagnosing me.” So wives need to …
4. Avoid analyzing your husband’s answers or feelings.
Don’t push back about what “you think” his feelings truly are. That’s “mind-reading” and a boundary violation!
5. Avoid coming to the table with a closed-mind.
Pray for God to open your heart and eyes to what your “husband feels” is his problem—then believe him!
6. Avoid (again) talking more than listening.
I suppose it bears repeating! 😉 Remember the Irish Proverb …
[Tweet “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak!”]
That’s sound (pardon the pun) advice!
3rd Highest: “When she doesn’t pressure me to share or share more than I’m comfortable with.” So wives need to …
7. Avoid pushing your husband to have the talk.
That doesn’t mean you can’t request it. Just don’t make the issue into a “tug-of-war”—where you’re always on his case to sit down and talk. Keep in mind that if you’ve asked for this and you begin to (over time) pester him about it, then you are moving into boundary violation territory again. Let him step up to the plate instead of forcing him to come to it.*
8. Avoid pushing your husband to open up more than he’s willing at any given time.
It’s hard enough for men to open up about how they feel without women trying to control how much they share about how they feel. Ladies, …
[Tweet “Remember male-female communication is a “work-in-progress!” #bepatient”]
Bottom line, the more you give him grace in this process, the more he’ll come toward you and open up!
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” ~James 1:19 (NIV)
FYI – I’ll be unpacking what wives can “do” to improve communication efforts next week!
Which of these “actions to avoid” do you struggle to cut out of your communication efforts?
What would you add to my list of what to avoid?
*Anytime you have a spouse who is resistant to a reasonable request you’ve made over a long period of time (say 6 months to a year or longer), then consider enlisting the support of a counselor to process your feelings with and to find guidance on how to cope with your resistant spouse.
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