This blog is for husbands only. Watch this video, have a laugh, then please keep reading.
It’s Not About the Nail Video
One of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn, and am still learning, is to listen and only listen to my wife. Susan and I have been married for 46 years. As a young husband and a problem-solver by nature, when Susan would come to me and share a problem, a pain or frustration, I tried what 99% of all husbands want to do – fix it!
As she began to explain what or who was frustrating her, I was quiet, but not really listening. My mind was racing, looking for a solution for her problem. I wanted to be her rescuer! Wasn’t that the job of husbands? And, lucky Susan, she married a clever guy who loved solving problems for people. This was going to be a win-win, if there ever was one!
So before she’d even finish talking, I’d interrupt her and give her some options and my best advice, fully expecting a big smile to come over her face, so thankful for the solution.
Instead, she looked at me like I was the most insensitive clod I could be. Then she’d say, “Clare, I’m not looking to you for answers, I just need you to listen.” And I’d be shocked and confused. It just never dawned on me, and didn’t for dozens of years, that my wife didn’t want my advice just then. She simply wanted empathy and a listening ear. It wasn’t about the nail!
For any wives reading this blog, by nature, men are problem solvers. They get paid to solve problems at work. They love using their skill to help you. It’s one way they show they love and care for you. Most men would rather have burning bamboo shoots shoved under their fingernails than just listen to anyone, with no thoughts of a solution racing in their heads. And, it’s tough for us to turn it off when we get home. It’s simply the way we are wired, so please be patient. (Perhaps marriage licenses ought to be issued along with a case of duct tape for every husband!)
After years of counseling, I’ve gotten better at listening, but it still takes work, so men here are some listening techniques I’ve learned and try to use:
1. When your wife begins telling you about an issue that is frustrating her, ask her “Do you just want me to listen, or are you hoping I’ll help you find a solution?” 2. As she’s talking, intentionally do not think of solutions. Concentrate on her and what she’s telling you. Watch her face and body language. Try to feel the emotions behind what she’s saying and ask the Holy Spirit for understanding and empathy. 3. When she’s finished, wait 10 seconds, and acknowledge the emotion you hear in her voice, (ie. That must have really hurt you.) Then consider asking her this question, “What do you need from me right now?”
The beauty of these questions is that it gives your wife the opportunity to ask your opinion or not. If she doesn’t ask for it, don’t make the mistake of thinking she doesn’t trust you to solve her problem. My wife is brighter than I am and is quite capable of solving most of her challenges. But, what she wants most of all from me, is my empathy. Frankly, truly listening is still hard work for me. It doesn’t come easy and probably won’t for you either. But your wife will respect you deeply if you try. Mine does. It’s not about the nail!
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19
One final thought for husbands; Forward this blog to your Bible study group, or your closest friends, then after they’ve had their laughs, have a serious discussion about listening to your wives better and why we husbands don’t. That, is spiritual leadership!
Following Jesus in Real Life
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