Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What Not to Say to Your Husband

By Melanie Chitwood

Adapted from Melanie’s books, What a Husband Needs from His Wife and What a Wife Needs from Her Husband by Melanie Chitwood

Tyler was three years old when he was riding home from preschool with his best little girlfriend Brooke. Out of the blue, Brooke looked at Tyler and asked, “Tyler, do you love me?” As he looked out the car’s window Tyler answered, “Brooke, look at the trees!” Not to be deterred, Brooke asked again, “But Tyler, do you love me?” Tyler firmly answered, “Brooke! Look at the trees!”

I love this story because it reminds me that even at a young age males and females communicate differently. Because of these differences, communication in marriage can often lead to miscommunication instead of connection.

This list of things not to say to your husband will help you avoid some typical roadblocks on the path to communicating with your spouse.

Honey, can we talk?

When we say this to our husbands, we trigger some fear in our husbands. He assumes this means you want to talk about a problem and the problem will probably be him. Once again he’ll be in the doghouse, not a place he wants to be, especially in your eyes.

Also, while women tend to be natural at sharing, many men uncomfortable and unnatural to sit and talk face to face. Our husbands might need some warming up before they can jump into a conversation. A good way to get your husband talking is to introduce a topic he cares about, perhaps work or basketball. In addition, studies show men are much more likely to open up while they’re engaged in some kind of activity with their wives, such as going for walk, a drive to the store, or just hanging out with him while he putters in the garage.

I heard Jim got a new promotion.

With statements like this, your husband is quick to assume you’re implying he’s a failure. One insight about men that has helped me tremendously is to understand that most men are constantly wondering if they measure up. And many times they feel like they’re not.

Most husbands want to please their wives and to provide what their family wants. Any kind of statement, such as, the Hansens got a new car. Sure wish we could afford one… cuts a man to the heart with its implication that he’s not enough. Even if this isn’t what you meant, it’s the way a typical man will interpret this type of statement. Find ways to fill your husband up with praise and thank you’s for what he does for you and your family.

I forgot to tell you about …

Okay, I’m guilty of this. Just the other day while Scott was out-of-town working, I somehow managed to run into our mailbox (no, I wasn’t even on the cell phone), leaving a huge scrape down the side of the car. I didn’t tell Scott on the phone. I just wanted to avoid it. I felt stupid, and I knew Scott would be understandably frustrated about the repair expense. So he had a little surprise when he got home.

“No secrets” is a good policy for marriage. Our husbands can handle more than we give them credit for. When it comes to finances, matters with kids, family activities, and emotional issues in our marriages we need to speak with kindness, truth, and honesty. My husband tells me he does not like to get to blindsided, especially by something I could have and should have told him. The “no secrets” policy establishes trust in our marriages.

Do I look fat in this?

When we pose this question, we’re putting our man in a no-win situation. After all, is any sane husband going to answer, “Yes, and maybe you should go on a diet.” Whatever he answers, it’s probably not going to be the right answer to cover the insecurity we’re already feeling that may have prompted this question. He probably won’t be enthusiastic enough when he tells us we look great. And we might even be mad he didn’t say we looked great without having to fish for a compliment.

Maybe you feel like your husband never comments on your appearance and you’d really like him to. Tell him just that in a sincere and gentle way, not an accusing or angry way. Be direct. Most men don’t get hints.

When we’re looking for communication solutions in our marriage, let’s remember that the differences in communication styles are many times exactly the way God planned it. We’re told in Genesis 1:27 that we’re created in God’s image, uniquely male and uniquely female. As we accept the differences rather than fight against them, we’ll find our way on the path to better communication with our husbands.

Melanie Chitwood is married to Scott, a corporate pilot and business owner, and mother to two sons. Melanie lives in Charlotte, NC and serves on the Proverbs 31 Ministries Writing Team. Drawing from the lessons God reveals in her own marriage and in God's Word, Melanie’s marriage books, What a Husband Needs from His Wife (Harvest House, 2006) and What a Wife Needs from Her Husband (Harvest House 2010), provide couples a spiritual foundation and practical ways to invest in their marriage every day.

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