"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:21
Over the years we have interviewed hundreds of wives, and many of them communicated at least three areas where they desired to see change in their husbands before they would believe their husband's commitment:
• Careful Listening without Justification or Argument
It is often difficult for a man to converse with his wife without challenging the meaning of various words she uses to explain how she feels inside. If a husband can overlook the actual words his wife uses to express herself and instead, actively pursue what she means, fewer arguments will take place. One man I know finds it almost impossible to do this. When his wife says, "You never do this," or "Your always do that," he will inevitably say, "Now, dear, I don't always do that," or "Did I do it yesterday?" or he begins to analyze her statement to prove it false.
If we can stop justifying our actions and quit arguing about the words our wives use, we can get to the heart of the matter. We can try rephrasing our wives statements, "Is this what you were trying to say?" or "Is this what I'm hearing?" It is essential in communication to look past the surface words to the real meaning behind the words.
• Quickness to Admit Error
Countless wives and children have told me how their family relationships have been weakened because of a husband's or father's unwillingness to admit his errors. Though husbands sometimes think admission of errors reveals their weaknesses, the opposite is true.
A humble admission of wrong produces positive results. When a husband admits he has hurt his wife, she feels better just knowing he understands. Not only that, it demonstrates that he is a wise man because the Scriptures tell us that only the wise seek counsel.
• Patience When She is Reluctant to Believe You've Changed
What if you've been doing everything within your power to let your wife know she has first place in your life, and she still doesn't believe you've changed? Do you throw up your arms in disgust? Or do you gently persuade her over a period of time? Her initial respect for you wasn't lost overnight, and it can't be regained in a day. Show her that no matter how long it takes, you want to earn her respect.
For Wives - A Gentle Answer Turns Away Wrath
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1
No one likes to be criticized, regardless of how much truth lies behind the criticism. Whether we are male or female, six or sixty, when someone corrects us, we automatically become defensive. Yet honest communication is vital to marriage. These two basic truths appear contradictory. How do you honestly tell the one you love about something you find displeasing or aggravating without prompting that familiar, defensive glare or indifferent shrug?
The following four principles outline the indirect approach. This is especially beneficial for wives when they are wanting to comment on their husband's insensitivity.
1. Learn to express your feelings through three loving attitudes:
a. Warmth is the friendly acceptance of a person. It's considering a person to be important enough to give your time and resources to—to share his concerns, not because he has earned it, but simply because he's a human being.
b. Empathy is the ability to understand and identify with a person's feelings.
c. Sincerity is showing a genuine concern for a person without changing your attitude toward him when circumstances change.
2. Learn to share your feelings without using "you" statements. For example, the statement, "You're never home on time" or "Can't you get up earlier and take care of the kids just once?" "You" statements usually cause a man to either dig in and fight or to promptly leave your presence without resolving the issue. Either way, it makes him more determined to have his own way.
3. When you've cooled off, replace the "you" statements with "I" messages. Instead of confronting your tardy husband as he walks through the door with,"You never come home on time," creatively share your feelings in a positive context. For example, "You know, there are some things you do that really make me feel loved and appreciated, like coming home for dinner on time or letting me know if you'll be late. Those are ways that you show your love for me. I really need that."
4. Abandon "I told you so" statements. Such statements can take many forms and should be eliminated completely. Her are some examples: "Just like I thought," "I knew it!" or "You never listen, do you?"
As you begin to apply some of these principles, you will encounter a bit of frustration and failure, but don't give up. If you persist in developing and expressing these qualities, you will ultimately see those same qualities developed in your husband.
A Wife's 4th Need – To Feel Protected
"For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church." Ephesians 5:29
What are ways in which you can protect your wife and make her feel secure? Before a husband can begin to protect his wife, he needs to discover areas where his wife feels vulnerable. Through informal discussions and observation on your part, you can compile mental lists of the major and minor areas where she feels frustrated or fearful.
Driving a car is one of my wife's vulnerable areas. Because she was involved in a serious auto accident in which some good friends were killed, she is naturally very alert to any possible danger when she is driving or even riding in a car. Since I am aware of this fear, I am sensitive to her driving needs.
Here are some of the areas which I consider to be important in protecting your wives:
1. Her physical limits. Many times a man treats his wife too roughly. He is unaware that his wife's physical make-up keeps her from enjoying roughness even when being playful. This could include wrestling, being rowdy, or thinking that she is able to move around the same amount of weight that you can.
2. Financial pressures. A man also needs to protect his wife from unnecessary financial stress. Many wives endure a tremendous amount of pressure because of a husband's irresponsibility with finances. When a wife has to face angry bill collectors, juggle figures in a checkbook that won't balance, cope with mounting pressures resulting from insufficient money, and other financial pressures, the burden can become physically and emotionally too much for some wives.
3. Expecting her to do all the cooking. So many men treat their wives as objects to be used. They don't verbalize it, but they maintain the inward conviction that women should remain in the kitchen cooking and cleaning while they play golf, hunt, or watch the game on TV. We as men need to take a close look at our traditional roles and choose what is best based on genuine love and the commitment to cherish our mates.
4. The pressure of the children. My wife used to say how much she appreciated the times I took charge of the kids when I came home from work. She was grateful for the time alone. I would take them outside to play, into another room to read, or just talked to them about whatever topic they chose. Thoughtful, creative ideas on your part are worth much more than the time and energy they cost. They strengthen your marriage and lift your wife's spirit.
We as husbands need to be aware of the amount of stress our wives face daily. To aid your wife with stress, you must first be aware of the situations that cause her the most anxiety. Purpose to protect your wife in all areas where she feels fearful and vulnerable. That's the first way to show how much you cherish her.
(c) 2003 Smalley Relationship Center.