How to Listen to Your Wife

Have you ever wondered why your wife gets MORE upset when you try to fix her problems?  It’s probably because she doesn’t want you to fix them.  She wants you to LISTEN to them.  I know… it sucks, and it’s *really* hard.  Having an outside perspective can really help, but sometimes, just having an ear to talk at is all your wife needs so that she can work things out for herself.

 

If you find yourself being vented at, you may want to ask “Do you want me to help fix it, or do you want me to listen?”  You’ll probably be surprised to hear that she just wants you to listen.

 

So what does it mean to Listen?  It means make eye contact.  Stay engaged in the conversation.  Don’t turn to your phone, iPad or computer.  Turn the TV off.  Say things like:

  • “Really?”
  • “Ugh!”
  • “That sucks”
  • “What did you do when they said that?”
  • “What did they say when you did that?”
You are NOT listening if you say:
  • “I did that once.”
  • “That’s just like when I…”
Saying things like that are making it about YOU.  Venting time needs to be about HER, or she’ll get more and more upset.

 

Also,don’t confuse rhetorical questions with real requests for answers.  Note the difference between “Everyone does that, right?” and “Do you think everyone does that?”  The first one is a rhetorical question.  She wants you to say ‘yes’ or something similar so that she can keep going.  If she’s gotten to the point where she’s not ending the sentence with the directive to agree with her (right?), then you can start trying to fix.  Otherwise, nod your head, agree, and continue making concerned eye contact.  DON’T say:
  • “Have you tried…”
  • “Why didn’t you….”
  • “I would have…”

If you’re saying these, you are FIXING.

Depending on her emotion, you may want to also try physically listening… rubbing her leg while she sits next to you, or playing with her hair as she rests her head on your chest and lets it all out.  Offer to get her a drink or some ice cream while she’s talking (CONTINUE LISTENING while you’re fetching things for her), but DO NOT offer advice unless she specifically asks for it.

 

Your ability to listen to her vent without instinctively trying to fix her issues will make you the talk of the Ladyhood.  All other wives will be jealous that your wife has the best husband who is so supportive and helpful.  And you don’t really have to do anything!

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About the Author: Abby Dryer's goal in life is to bridge the communication gap between men and women. She finds herself giving lots of marital advice to her guy friends whose wives don’t want to have to explain *everything* to their husbands. “Women are hard to understand. I’m a woman, and *I* don’t even get us sometimes! Goodhusbanding is a great guide to help men understand their women, and hopefully communicate with a little more confidence, because that’s what works… communication!”

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  1. Paul says:

    –If you find yourself being vented at, you may want to ask “Do you want me to help fix it, or do you want me to listen?”  You’ll probably be surprised to hear that she just wants you to listen.–

    Seriously, ASK THIS QUESTION.  Out loud.  And listen to the answer.  After the 5th response, it’ll reinforce the idea that most of the time, people just want to release steam.

    As a side benefit, you’ll look awesome for being sufficiently aware of your conversational “guy” impulses to even ask the question.

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