For many years I lived under the mistaken assumption that the best way to communicate one of my absolutely brilliant ideas was to pour it all out verbally. And that's what I did. Boy, howdy, I'd do it with anyone who would listen! I learned to process things out loud and desired all those near me to patiently walk through that process with me, smiling and nodding in agreement, of course.
And then I married my handsome, strong, and genius-of-a-man, Ray. Even before he asked me to build a new life together with him, I sensed a caution in my spirit about my habit of chattering.
- I wanted to respect and esteem him.
- I wanted to learn how to really listen to him.
- And I wanted to know how to communicate my desires and needs in a way that he would welcome.
But I didn't know how. I was absolutely clueless! I figured if I just talked long enough—and with the appropriate emotional fervor—he'd eventually see the flawlessness of whatever I wanted. Wherever did I get that idea? Surely not from the One who created communication.
Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin (Pro. 13:3).
My unguarded, self-indulgent chatter did eventually led me to ruin. I felt frustrated and muddleheaded when I couldn't convince Ray of my point. And I took it personally when he didn't agree with me, adding hurt to the emotional mix I now had to process. I didn't know how to communicate with this man who meant the world to me.
And so I sought the wise counsel of a woman whose marriage I deeply respected—my mother-in-law. "How can I best communicate with him?" I asked her.
She kindly clued me in. "Here's some cash. Freshen up a bit and invite him to meet you for a bite to eat at a restaurant that serves more than salads and sushi. Spend some time enjoying him. Then, once he has had a chance to eat and unwind, present your idea to him as clearly as possible."
I learned something that evening. I often met Ray at the door with all my needs spilling out as he put down his briefcase and tried to give me a kiss. But my tired and hungry husband wasn't able to absorb my cascade of words. That evening I learned that men hear with their eyes and listen with their stomachs. I saw that part of respecting my husband meant understanding how he could best hear me (cf. Est. 5:1–8).
First Peter 3:1–2 is written to wives who are married to unbelieving men. But surely, the principle could be applied in a Christian marriage. " . . . that they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct." A wise wife can soften her husband's heart before she ever opens her mouth—because men hear with their eyes and listen with their stomachs.
Of course, this is just one aspect of learning to communicate with the man you have given yourself to. But it is a good place to start! "When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent" (Pro. 10:32).
Have you found this principle true with your husband? How does he best hear you? What helps you win his heart?