Husband, Listen to Your Wife!

Husband, Listen to Your Wife! | All Truth is God's TruthMy father-in-law used to watch a lot of television. He was a little hard of hearing, so he usually kept the volume turned up pretty loud.

My wife’s mother would sometimes try to talk over the television to tell him something, but instead of muting the program and focusing his attention on her, Dad would just cup his ear and lean in closer to the set. Rather than tuning out the TV, he tried to tune out his wife!

Although we don’t have a television at our house, my wife still catches me “tuning out” occasionally. She’ll be in the middle of telling me a story, and I’ll be staring off into space, mentally rehashing some event or conversation from earlier in the day. Whether the distractions are internal or external, our wives can easily tell when we’re not paying attention.

Calvin Coolidge once said, “It takes a great man to be a good listener.” And do you know what? He was right.

So how can we learn to listen better? Here are five basic things husbands can do to hone their listening skills:

  • First, minimize distractions.

    Kids who are being boisterous should be made to settle down or sent to another room. Televisions and radios should be turned down or completely off. Laptops should be closed and cellphones pocketed. I normally place my phone or tablet face down beside me to physically demonstrate to my wife that she does, indeed, have my full attention.

  • Second, make eye contact.

    It may feel awkward at first, especially if you are accustomed to staring at your shoes or at the newspaper, but this is essential to letting your wife know you care about what she has to say. Look into her eyes, even if it’s hard. One of our sons had a difficult time looking people in the eye when he was younger. Even so, we insisted he do it, because we realized his habit of avoiding eye contact would cripple his ability to communicate and might even make him appear untrustworthy. With practice, he was able to overcome that unconscious quirk and is now one of the most comfortable, confident, and outgoing young men one could ever hope to meet.

  • Third, give frequent affirmation.

    Do you get what your wife is saying? Nod your head in understanding. Do you agree? Let her know that. Say positive things like, “Uh-huh” and “I see.” These things will communicate to her that you are paying attention and following her train of thought.

  • Fourth, ask questions.

    If you don’t understand something your wife has just told you, don’t pretend like you do. Instead, ask insightful, intelligent questions. This allows you clarify any ambiguities in what you think you heard her say (and it also helps her know for sure when she’s gotten her point across).

  • Fifth and finally, summarize.

    Repeat back, in a nutshell, what your wife just told you. This serves to cement what was discussed into your memory and reassures your beloved that she has truly been heard.

Although these five suggestions may seem difficult initially, they will begin to flow more naturally after you’ve gotten a little practice doing them. The best part is that, once you really begin to listen, you’ll be amazed at what interesting thoughts your wife has to share!

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Wine, Waiters, and Rorschach Tests

The ancient Greeks thought that the best way to discover a person’s true character was to serve them a couple glasses of wine. As inhibitions fell, underlying personality traits would shine forth. This is the philosophical underpinnings of the modern-day business party — get people to let down their guard and loosen up, so that you can see what they are really like.

The Waiter Rule is another tool employers commonly use when evaluating potential hires. Interviews are conducted over lunch, where the applicant’s treatment of the wait staff can be closely observed. His kindness to the girl refilling his water-glass tells much more about his true character than his courtesy to a prospective employer.

For years, psychologists have used inkblot or Rorschach tests to analyze personality types. The patient is shown a series of nondescript splotches of black on white and asked to identify the shapes. If every inkblot looks like a monster with fangs, there is likely an underlying problem.

Wine, waiters, Rorschach tests — each of these methods have proven helpful at revealing what a person is really like.

When a post my wife wrote a few weeks back went unexpectedly viral, we discovered a new way to find out what people are really like — by reading their blog comments and associated discussion boards!

The anonymity of the internet is the electronic equivalent of a couple of drinks. People tend to let their hair down when they are online. Some let it way down. And then, much like a waiter, the blogger is put at the mercy of the commenter.

But angry, hateful replies reveal more about the person leaving the comment than about the post they’re attacking, especially since hurling abuse at a blogger is even less risky than being mean to a waiter: a blogger isn’t going to spit in your food.

If you are reading this, you may already be familiar with my wife’s blog 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband and my corresponding blog 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife. We wrote these posts the same week we celebrated our silver wedding anniversary, to commemorate the 25 happy years we’ve spent together.

These articles have enjoyed immense popularity/notoriety, with well over three million views and 400,000 pins on Pinterest, not to mention the 1000+ comments they have generated. We’ve passed through as many of these comments as we could, both good and bad.

The positive replies were full of kudos and encouragement. The negative replies were full of indignation and outrage.

We normally edit out curse words, but a few of the dissenting opinions were so vile in language or imagery that they couldn’t be cleaned up adequately to publish. The discussion boards were even worse, enough to make a sailor blush. While it does not bother us that some readers disagree with our ideas, we’d prefer that they do so in a well articulated, intellectually honest, and mutually respectful way.

What we found most striking about the negative responses — once we moved beyond the foul language — was the vehemence and venom with which many were written. Pure, undiluted anger. You could almost sense the writers’ blood vessels about to burst as they pounded out their comments on their keyboards.

Whenever you give a two stimulus and get a ten response, there is eight of something you don’t know about contributing to the reaction, especially when literally hundreds of thousands of people think the stimulus/blog is terrific. It made me wonder more than once what is smeared on the windshields of some people’s lives that makes such a beautiful thing appear so ugly to them.

The next thing that seemed almost universal to the negative responses was that Self is clearly on the throne. Positive responders seemed to understand that putting your partner first is the bedrock of a healthy relationship. The dissenters made it abundantly clear in tone and just as often in words that their marriage is more about what they get than what they give.

Of course, no one likes to be considered self-centered, so some of them tried to get partial credit as a caring person by slipping in the old, “I respect my husband, but…” Then they’d list all the ways they refused to show it.

If somebody tells you, “I’d love to come to your party, but…,” you can be fairly certain that they aren’t coming.

The last thing we couldn’t help but note was the hypocrisy displayed by many of these writers on virtually every level possible. If asked about “hate speech,” I’m certain that every negative responder would decry it. Yet many of them had entire websites dedicated to mocking and attacking Christianity in the most abusive ways they could come up with. Many insisted that women should be free from oppression, then proceeded to cuss out a sweet stay-at-home grandma who was just trying to celebrate her silver anniversary. They argued that women should have their own voice, but repeatedly and systematically tried to block my wife’s blog on Pinterest. They insisted that women should make their own choices, then venomously berated my wife for making hers, calling her life “worthless” and her choices “disgusting.”

The message they sent was clear: “Don’t let a man abuse you… that’s our job!”

What is amazing to me is that, through it all, my wife has maintained her serenity. I asked her whether she were bothered by all the angry comments, and — here again — her response speaks volumes to her character.

“I’m not bothered in the least for my own sake,” she assures me, “but I feel sad for theirs. It makes me want to pray for them.”

So that is what we have committed to do. We are praying that their hearts and eyes would be opened and their lives would be blessed.

Jesus said, “Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.” (Matthew 5:44)

If you have been following this blog and understand the concept of unconditional love, we invite you to join us is praying for those who need it most. Pick a name or two from the negative responses and lift them up in prayer over the next week or month or year.

If — on the other hand — you hated these blogs, feel free to send us a railing reply. We’ll be happy to add you to our prayer list!

25 Ways to Show Your Wife You Love Her


The key to a successful marriage is putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your own. Here are 25 practical suggestions gleaned from 25 years of happy marriage.

  1. Listen
    To be truly heard is the longing of every human heart, and your wife is no exception. It sounds simple, but listening can be harder than it seems with so many distractions around us and within us. Set aside some time every day to look into your wife’s eyes and really listen to what she has to say. You may be surprised at what you hear. (James 1:19, Matthew 11:15)
  2. Communicate
    Don’t make her guess what you are thinking or feeling.
  3. Sing Her Praises
    Shamelessly brag about her good qualities and quietly pray about her bad ones. Her reputation is your reputation. (Proverbs 31:28-29)
  4. Pray For Her and With Her
    Praying on your wife’s behalf not only enlists the help of the Almighty, but also puts her and her needs at the forefront of your heart and mind, right where they belong. Praying alongside your wife will strengthen your relationship like nothing else. Studies show that couples who regularly pray together stay together, enjoying a 1% divorce rate compared to the usual rate of 50% or more. (Philippians 4:6; Matthew 18:19)
  5. Value Her Individuality
    Your wife is wonderfully unique. Don’t compare her to your mom, or your ex-wife, or your old girlfriend. Your mom may make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, but unfavorable comparisons won’t win you brownie points.
  6. Put the Seat Down
    Perpetually raised toilet seats are a pet peeve of wives everywhere. And while you’re at it, tidy up a bit. A little consideration goes a long way. (Philippians 2:4)
  7. Throw Your Dirty Clothes in the Hamper
    It’s likely just a few steps from wherever you are dropping them anyway. Make this a habit, and it will let your wife know your don’t consider her your personal maid.
  8. Turn Off the T.V.
    Lay aside the video games, pocket the iPhone, and shut off the computer, as well. It is staggering how many hours we waste gazing at some sort of screen instead of interacting with the real people in our lives. Consciously set limits on your tube-time, whatever form it takes. Use the time saved to invest in your marriage: take a walk with your wife or play a board game together instead. (Psalm 90:12)
  9. Loosen the Purse Strings
    We all have to keep an eye on our budget, but an occasional splurge can be well worth it. Seemingly frivolous things like flowers, jewelry, and overpriced restaurants let her know that she is more valuable to you than a number in your bank account.
  10. Practice Servant-Leadership
    All organizations have a hierarchy. It’s impossible to function without one, but being a leader isn’t the same as being a dictator. The best role model is Jesus Christ, not Joseph Stalin. Jesus washed his disciples feet and then died on their behalf. It’s a challenge to exercise authority while maintaining a spirit of humility, but that is what being a godly leader entails. (Matthew 20:28, Philippians 2:1-8; Mark 9:35)
  11. Remember that Intimacy’s a Two-Way Street
    Unfortunately, men are notoriously selfish in the bedroom, yet are dumbfounded when their wives are less than enthusiastic in this arena. Make this area of your relationship as pleasurable for her as it is for you and it will pay huge dividends. It may mean washing the dishes or helping with the kids, so that she has energy left at the end of the day. It may mean cuddling and candlelight, so that she can relax and let the worries on her mind drift away. If you aren’t sure where to begin, just ask her, and then listen. (1 Corinthians 7:3)
  12. Give Her Time to Herself
    Everyone needs an occasional break to rest and recharge, and this is especially important for a wife who is at home all day with young children. Yet it’s very easy to neglect this legitimate need unless you regularly and intentionally schedule time for it. (Luke 5:16)
  13. Set Aside Couple Time
    Soak in the tub together each evening or go on a date night once a week — whatever gets the two of you alone on a regular basis. (Genesis 2:24-25)
  14. Be Careful with Female Friendships
    We all have friends and colleagues of the opposite sex, but tread cautiously. Not all affairs are physical ones. Honoring your marriage vows means remaining faithful in thought and word as well as in deed. (Matthew 5:27-28)
  15. Use Good Hygiene
    It is amazing how meticulous guys can be prior to marriage in their attempts to impress a girl, but once they walk down the aisle, all bets are off. Clean up a little; I promise it won’t kill you.
  16. Limit the Gross Stuff
    Few women find burping and farting nearly as hilarious as the typical guy does. Good manners are always a win. (Ephesians 5:4)
  17. Be Patient
    In whatever way this applies to you and your situation, apply it. (1 Corinthians 13:4, Proverbs 14:29)
  18. Cherish Her Children
    A mother’s bond to her children runs immeasurably deep. When you invest time or energy in them, you are investing in her as well. Kindness to them counts as kindness to her. (Malachi 4:6)
  19. Choose Her Over Hobbies and Buddies
    Invariably there will come times in your relationship when you will be forced to choose between your wife and something else that you enjoy. Always choose her.
  20. Provide for Her Needs
    This is so much more than just putting food on the table. It is all-encompassing. Whether it is physical needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs, you name it — do your best to provide. Sometimes life’s circumstances hinder us in one area, but we can compensate in another area. Often the effort is as important as the outcome. (Galatians 6:2)
  21. Dial Down the Anger
    Your caveman instincts are handy on the battlefield, but horrible for a happy home life. Every outburst or flare-up is a relationship setback. To go forward, the first step is to stop going backwards. Learn to control your temper or it will control you, your marriage, and every other aspect of your life. Just because your wife puts up with it and your co-workers tolerate it, doesn’t make your short fuse an asset. Do whatever it takes to gain victory in this all-important struggle that has haunted man since Cain slew Abel. (Ecclesiastes 7:9, Ephesians 4:31)
  22. Cut Out the Condescension
    If you have been blessed with a quick wit, you can either be the life of the party or a pain in the neck depending on the circumstances. Condescension is anger’s younger brother. It isn’t as loud or as dramatic, but it can be equally hurtful and all the more so for its subtlety. Lay off the snide remarks, the sarcasm, and the belittling. Speak to your wife in the same way that you would speak to a respected colleague. She is, after all, your partner in the most valuable investment of your life — your family.(, (Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 3:19)
  23. Actively Seek Your Wife’s Insights
    Value her input and give it a preferential place in your decision-making process. (Proverbs 19:20; 12:15)
  24. Learn to Forgive
    Freely forgive your wife’s past, present, and future offenses. Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel and at the heart of every meaningful relationship. (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13)
  25. Verbally Express Your Love
    There are lots of ways to show your love, but women still like to hear it spoken.

Obviously no list is comprehensive, and one size certainly doesn’t fit all, but hopefully this one will prompt you to compile a list of your own, tailor-made for your own wife. For any women reading this blog, you may be interested to know that my wife has published a similar list entitled 25 Ways to Show Respect to Your Husband. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Also, for those who have requested printable versions of these articles, you’ll find the list for wives here and the one for husbands here, with an option to print either article in its entirety or as a one-page summary.


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