Here is a conversation between Dr. Kevin Leman and a frustrated wife. Does your husband fail to listen when you are hurting? These words may be for you!
Laura’s Question: “The other day I was sharing with my husband about my day. It was a hard and long day. As I started to tear up, he launched into solutions to my problems. I’m hurt now because I have asked him to just listen before, but he does not get it. What do I do? How can I get him to understand that I usually just need a listening ear and that I will ask for solutions when I need them?”
Dr. Leman’s Answer: This is something that men don’t get. Your husband is an absolute perfect specimen of what is a man. Men, by their nature, are fixers. Just like so many women, by their nature of comforters, givers, and huggers. Okay? So, we’re asking the crooked river not to bend. You have to know what you’re up against. And so, that’s probably one of the toughest questions that I could be asked but let me be the wife here for a minute and see if I can pull this off. “Frank, I need to talk to you and I don’t want you to say one word for the next three minutes. I just want you to hear what I have to tell you. And Frank, this is very serious.”
And there’s a pause on purpose. And then, you launch into it. “Yesterday afternoon, when you came home, I started to share with you about my day and about how my day turned ugly quickly. And you could see in my face and you could see the tears in my eyes–this was bothering me. As I began to reach into my heart, to bare my soul to you, you took a meat cleaver and you cut the pork loin in two. Crash. You just cut me off. And I was more than hurt by that.” “
I realize this isn’t easy for you or any of your buddies at work could do naturally because men are not great listeners. They’re fixers. And you went on to point out all the things that I need to do to solve my problem. Frank, that’s the least I need from you. That is not what my heart desires. I want you to hear me out and that’s why I’ve asked not for one word out of your mouth for the next three minutes because you really have to understand how I, as a woman, operate.” “And I know enough that I’m representative of the female gender. And that we, as women, have a need to pour our feelings with a safety net underneath us. And that safety net is you.
We want to be like that commercial, you’re in good hands with Allstate. We want to feel like there’s tendered gentle hands around our feelings.” “And when I share from my heart and that meat cleaver comes down and just shuts me off, I feel hurt. I feel neglected, I feel unwanted, I feel disrespected and it brings up feelings in me, Frank, that quite frankly, I don’t think I would feel at a liberty to tell you how bad those feelings are because it cuts through the very core of who I am.” “So, I know it’s difficult for you to just listen. But I need you to just listen to me. I don’t need you to fix anything. So, when I pour out my heart to you, what I need from you is open arms, a smiling face, a warm caress. You know what that means to me? It means you get it. You understand what I’m up against.”
And then, I just might say to you, “Frank, I’m stuck. I need your help. And you come on with your suggestions because you have a logical, linear, A comes before B which comes before C mind. And I’ll admit I need that from time to time in my life. You’re my rock, you’re the man I love. You’re the one I’ve had children with. The only man I’ve ever been intimate with in my entire life and so when I share these feelings with you, I’m almost to that point, just open your hands like Allstate and then mimic and you just squash those feelings by rubbing your hands together that makes me feel like I’m less than a human being.” “Now, I’m so glad you didn’t say a word. I appreciate you hearing me up.
Now, I’m going to do something that you’re going to love. I’m going to say to you, Frank, tell me how you feel about what I just said.” Now, if he tells you some things at that point, okay? And again, your job is to listen. What he’s done, if he’s missing points, now it’s your turn to come back and say, “Okay, fine. I need to ask you just one more time. I just need one minute of silence on your part because I want to clarify something that I said that I think you misinterpreted.” Okay? And then you go ahead and clarify it, okay? And then again, at the end of that you say to him, “Alright, now you’ve heard what I said now. Now you have an opportunity to tell me what you think you heard just so there’s no escaping the fact that we, as husband and wife, need to be on the same page.
And that’s one of the very practical ways I think a husband and wife can stay on the page. But realize you only stand a chance if you’re willing to shut your mouth and really listen to the other person.”