Jul 122016 11 Responses

How to Make Your Wife Feel Heard

“He just doesn’t listen to me.” It’s one of the most repeated statements women in unhealthy relationships say. Even if they wouldn’t define the relationship as unhappy, when pressed, many women in good relationships feel unheard.

While no relationship is perfect, good relationships are characterized by good communication. In part, good communication demands that we recognize we are bad at communication. Some couples are deceived into thinking that individually they are capable communicators; those are the couples who never communicate well. Good communication begins with a recognition of the difficulty of the process.

Yet healthy couples learn, grow, and develop proper communication. The result is that both spouses feel heard. (See: The Warning Sign of a Bad Marriage You Might Miss)

Where a wife feels heard, a relationship likely flourishes.

She Has to Feel Heard

Notice, it’s a feeling. It’s not enough just to hear her. She has to feel as though she has been heard. While a man is not ultimately responsible for his wife’s feelings, he is responsible for doing everything in his power to give her the opportunity to have the feeling.

Of course, the feeling better imitate the action. When some men ask, “How do I make her feel heard?” what they are actually asking is “How do I make her feel heard without actually listening to her?” They want the good results without any of the work. If your wife feels heard, but you aren’t actually hearing her, you will eventually be found out.

The goal is not only to hear our wives, but to have them believe they are being heard to such a deep level that they feel it. Not only do their heads believe it, but their hearts can sense that their husbands truly listen to what they say.

What Prevents Listening

1. Bias. Our opinions color everything we hear. We are predisposed to listen to things we agree with and to ignore ideas which we disagree with. Because men and women are inherently different, we are often biased to ignore our spouse. Instead of seeing the perspective as a valuable alternative to our own, we simply ignore their opinions.

2. Fear. We often don’t listen to our spouse because we are afraid. Whether we are afraid that they might say something hurtful or that they might say something which we know is true, fear keeps us from listening.

3. Contempt. Some husbands don’t listen because they can never imagine their spouse having something worth saying. Believing they are smarter, more moral, or just better than their spouse, they never listen to what the other person has to say.

4. Focusing on our turn. The number one reason we fail to listen to others (including our spouse) is our preoccupation with determining what we will say. Notice this in your next tense discussion. The average person focuses far more on what we will say next rather than on what the other person is saying. This focus prevents us from hearing our spouse.

The Secret to Listening

In part, creating a climate in which a wife we feels heard is a simple as learning some basic communication techniques. No one is born a good listener. We must develop the skills–through learning and practice–in order to become good listeners. (See: The Secret to Good Communication in Marriage)

Five basic steps to good listening:

1. Stop talking. It’s that simple. You can’t listen while talking. Your wife needs a chance to speak.

2. Stop preparing your response. Respond after your wife finishes talking. Focus on what they are saying, not what you will say next.

3. Desire to know her opinion. Just wanting to hear what your wife has to say aides listening.

4. Listen with your ears and your body. If your eyes are on the TV or your phone, you aren’t fully listening. Eye contact, facial expressions, and an engaged mind are key to listening.

5. Ask if you have heard correctly. Before responding, clarify what your wife has said. “Are you saying _____,” is a great question. Until she agrees that she is saying what you say she is saying, you aren’t ready to respond.

While every person needs to learn and practice basic communication skills, there is another secret to listening. The secret is love.

Watch a grandfather with a grandchild struggling to string together her first sentence.

Watch a high school student talking to his crush on the phone for the first time.

Watch two lovers reunited after a long absence.

Love drives us to listen. If you love your wife, you will listen to her. While you won’t do so perfectly, you will do so with such consistency that she will feel heard.

A Note to Wives

While it’s vital for husbands to listen, there is another key step to making sure a wife feels heard–she must speak. Never think that if your husband loves you, he will automatically know what is on your mind. He won’t. He can’t. You are far too intricate and beautiful of a creation to be so simple for a man to always read your mind. He might on occasion, but those occasions will be rare. (See: Two Steps to Solving 90% of Relationship Problems)

If you want a husband who can read your mind, you will have to spend the next 50 years clearly communicating that mind. Then he might be able to know without asking. Until then, you must keep communicating.

11 Responses to How to Make Your Wife Feel Heard
  1. Tracy Yoho Reply

    I have 2 things. 1. Possibly under the heading of Contempt or perhaps its own POWER. Its so rare that my husband does not feel heard, because when he talks I listen. May be the case for most women. So, when you have this desireto be heard it almost keeps you in a state of groveling for the attention. The man/husband wields the power to touch you with his hearing you or to just withhold. It puts them in a very powerful position. Obviously not brought about by love for the other.
    2. Based on the climate of our society and politics. I believe if you took away the husband and wife heading, and replaced it with black and white, this whole article would apply 100%! Aching to be heard, understood, valued, equal, loved, etc.
    Thank you for your great articles! They really help me!
    Tracy Yoho

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Both of these are great points. I hadn’t properly thought through the power aspect of not listening but it makes total sense.

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  5. Betty Reply

    My husband refuses to really talk or listen to me. He won’t ride in the same vehicle with me for any trips beyond 20 minutes because ” he doesn’t want to be trapped in a car with me talking.” It’s been like this for many years. I have learned not to speak. I really wouldn’t know what to say now if he asked me something.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      In my opinion, that’s unacceptable. I would make an appointment with a counselor and invite him to go. I would let him know you are going with or without him.

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  7. Crystal Reply

    I love my husband in everyway he is really great in almost all aspects but lately when I get upset about something whether it be between us, financial issues, family issues or whatever he does this thing where he tries to avoid every negative topic with me. I worry about things and talking to him about how we will fix things makes me feel secure but now he just shuts me down and says we will talk about it later but we NEVER talk about it again until I’m upset about it again and even more stressed out. I try not to nag and give him space but we are a family with kids we can’t not talk about our problems.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Every person has a right to take some time, but they must come back to the conversation. Whenever he says he’ll talk about it later, you have a right to ask for a specific time and he has a responsibility to have the conversation at that time. If that isn’t happening, I would get some professional help so you guys don’t get stuck in this pattern.

  8. Timothy tilghman Reply

    I use the bandaid analogy to remind me to listen. When we see a scar we pull out the disinfectant and apply the bandaid before moving on. This is a common response when the one who was scarred wanted me to acknowledge the pain and offer comfort and consolation.

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