It’s a question wives often ask, “Why doesn’t my husband listen to me? Why doesn’t he hear my heart?”
In our first year of marriage, I did not feel heard. I could talk a-mile-a-minute but i did not feel like my husband understood my heart completely.
There’s this particular question I wanted to be asked at the end of a work day. “How was your day?” Simple enough, I thought. But it turned out to be a difficult question for my husband to ask me.
So I did what most wives do when they sense resistance – I pushed. I went ahead and raised it up with our mentors and my sweet guy was put to task about it.
Now I had real ammunition!
But hubby continued to struggle to ask about my day. His explanation? “You tell me about your day even when I don’t ask”
Which was true. I always emptied out in the evenings. Plus we would be in touch during the day, so he didn’t feel like he was missing anything.
But I wanted him to ask me. Because to me, it was its own love language. “I care about you, I care about what you did today. I want to hear your highs and lows”
We’d keep up the dance for a while. Me, upset and feeling unloved because he didn’t ask about my day. Him, wondering what the deal was, upset because I was upset.
Eventually (thank God for eventualys!), it began to dawn on me;
- Insisting that someone ups their personality might push them in the opposite direction.
- Making a big deal about a husband’s ‘handicap’ might not get you what you want. You might be right all the way to the moon and back but unless you ask right, you are simply not going to get it.
Was I right to ask for what I felt I needed? Of course! Were our mentors right in making certain expectations known? Absolutely. Did my husband have an issue to overcome? Oh yes! (Update, he eventually overcame it!)
But guess who needed to change first? Me! Because I was the one who was angry and frustrated most of the time.
So here are a few things you might be doing wrong, the reason your husband may have closed his heart to what matters to you.
Please note: I am not saying you are wrong to have and communicate your expectations, as long as they are healthy. The focus today is to learn how to ask right so that you up your chances of being heard!
6 reasons your husband may have closed his heart to what matters to you;
1. You ask a miss (your tone of voice and body language)
I don’t know about you but where I come from (African culture) putting your hands on your hips and raising your voice ranks as one of the most disrespectful thing a wife can do to her husband. Most African men will react negatively.
There’s the general culture, the male culture and your marriage culture to consider. Refrain from those things that will kill a conversation before it starts.
Rolling your eyes, exaggerated sighs, impatiently tapping fingers or feet, aggressive/passive body stance, turning away while he talks etc.
Generally, men want to feel respected, even when they are wrong. The same way wives want their husbands to be gentle and loving, even when they are wrong.
I know it’s difficult to keep a respectful tone of voice and body language when there’s storm brewing in your heart.
But try what C S Lewis proposes;
“The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him”
Be a gentle engager – First, ask God to still your heart. Then employ a tone of voice and body language that will help your conversation. A gentle brush on the arm. Looking at him as you talk. Sitting beside him. Repeating what he just said.
2. You ask/remind him at the wrong time.
Is he hungry, tired, unhappy?
Are you in the middle of another discussion/disagreement? Don’t bring up a past issue – or another issue – while in the middle of something else.
Focus on one thing at a time.
3. You are not specific enough
Instead of having a general expectation, help your guy and tell him what you need from him specifically.
Instead of saying “I feel loved when you ask about my day” You may want to tell him “I feel loved when you ask about the meetings I had today and my commute”
I know. It sounds obvious but men are direct creatures. Give him specifics and he might know where to start.
4. You do not go to God first
There’s something about marriage that makes us feel like we need Jesus less. Especially in the early days of marriage. It’s not a conscious decision, more like a slow fade.
We come to this place where our expectations fly straight at our husbands, without first resting at the feet of Jesus.
Thankfully (hopefully) as we grow on in marriage, we begin to understand that our husbands cannot be our everything. They can’t feel all those hole-y places of our hearts. They are a blessing, not our Source.
To have hubby’s ear, you want to catch the ear of God first. Invite Him into your needs, your disappointments and heartaches before your invite your hubby.
I’ve discovered that in every single situation we’ve gone through in our marriage, regardless of whose fault it was, there was always something for me to learn.
So ask God to shine His light into your corners and crevices before you light up your husband’s heart.
5. You are impatient
Being a choleric/sanguine in personality, I am naturally impatient. That means I am always in a big hurry. But God, in His holy humor, gave me a guy who doesn’t think the world is ending tomorrow. He likes to be exact and relaxed.
Not matter how urgent things feel to you, you might need to dial back..like waaaaay back. Consider how long it takes to change behavior (that you didn’t even think need changing.) Change isn’t an overnight process.
Also consider how you might feel if your hubby asked you to change and gave you a super short time frame to do it.
So let him know what you need. And then be patient.
6. You are not ready to make adjustments
Just because you asked, and everyone agrees with you does not mean you are going to get it. I know that feels awful but it’s the truth. Sometimes you have to make the change, not your spouse.
At some point I decided to let go of my expectation. I decided I was no longer going to measure Tommy’s love through that one question.
It was hard and I probably regressed like a million times. But eventually I would start to focus on what else my husband was, instead of what he was not. And he was a very loving guy. I needed to place my eyeballs on that.
So. You might need to accept that what you are asking for might never come. Consider what you are willing to lose and what you stand to gain.
Lose the anger and frustration, gain peace and harmony. Lose trying to get happiness from your husband, gain a deeper understanding of God as your all.
I am not suggesting that you never bring up your needs/wants again. But stop making your needs the main focus. (Obviously I am not talking about marriage must-haves)
Now tell me, have you ever had to give up a position in your marriage? How did you navigate? What other communication tips can you add? Let’s chat in Comments!
Want to learn how to communicate better? My book Blues To Bliss can help! Learn how to follow choice instead of feelings when it comes to communication and how to rely on God as you make daily decisions that say “I still do”. Find more information about the book and the the purchase links here.
Sharing with Wedded Wednesday