1. Interrupt Him or Don’t Hear Him Out
Interrupt him in public and in private. It is a sure fire way to make him feel disrespected. Whether either of you put two and two together about why, he’s probably going to feel angry and upset about it. An alternate way to make him upset is to not listen the first time and ask him to repeat what he said.
Let him finish his thought and actually listen to it.
According to Mary Ellen Guffey’s research in Essentials of Business Communication, untrained listeners are only 25% effective. So, if you haven’t had special training to help you listen, you likely miss about 75% of what people say. A couple of ways to improve your listening with your husband and to give you something to do instead of interrupt:
Don’t fake attention. Organize what he’s saying in your head
Don’t tune out ideas that you disagree with. Listen for why your husband does agree with them. Try to really understand where he is coming from.
Don’t grandstand. Don’t spend the time he is talking trying to formulate your response to him. You can’t respond to what you haven’t understood.
Don’t look at your phone. Put it down- put the dishes down, put everything down if you can. Showing you are paying attention just to him communicates the respect he craves.
2. Complain and then Reject Help
We all know how this works- women voice a struggle from the day, the man tries to solve the problem, and the woman gets upset. Both walk away frustrated. Why is this happening? Women talk to connect and build intimacy. They are sharing a struggle so the husband can understand her feelings from the day. Men don’t think about conversation like that. While they do share feelings at times, their focus in conversation is establishing status and maintaining independence. So, when a woman comes to them, they hear the woman saying, “I am not the expert here; I’m coming to you as the expert in this situation.” This establishes hierarchy, and requires of the man to do his best to solve your problem (And he will often put forth a lot of effort even if he doesn’t really know how or cannot do it).
Take His Help with Gratitude and Thank Him for Understanding You
Go ahead and take the help if it is applicable. Listen with a thankful smile. Don’t roll your yes, make a face, act impatient or interrupt. Use that time to remind yourself, “He is showing me he loves me right now; He’s putting all he is into helping me right now (even if it’s inconvenient to him), because he cares about me deeply.” Thank him sincerely when he’s done for the advice (be sure to apply it later if you say you will) and then mention, “And I really appreciate you just listening to me and understanding me. That makes me feel really loved. Thank you.”
But I Don’t Want Him to Solve My Problem! I Just Want Him to Listen!
So tell him that! Just preface what you say with, “I wanted to tell you about something that happened today, but I don’t need you to do anything about it. I’d just feel really loved to have the man I respect listen to me.”
3. Answer For Him
When a friend or family member asks a question to him, you answer it. Go! Either your man will feel angry and show it, feel angry and not show it, or he’s already so defeated he just sits back and lets you wear the pants and bear all the responsibility that comes with that without him actively present. I feel the urge to do this come on super strong when he starts to tell a story I’m super excited about and I don’t want him to miss any of the juicy details. Can I hear myself? Basically, that means I think I can tell the story better. By interrupting him to interject or taking over, that is essentially what he hears, “You’re not telling that story right; I’m the story expert here.” Since men use conversation to establish hierarchy, he is likely to feel you are one-upping him here and establishing yourself above him as story expert.
Learn About and Value Who He Is.
Better option? Take it as an opportunity to learn about your husband and value who he is. Listen for what he emphasizes and consider why. What can you learn about him during this process? Look at him attentively and smile as he tells it. If there’s something you really must say, say it after he’s completely finished.
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