When I hear from the Engaged Marriage community, I have noticed two interesting trends that are very consistent.
First, around 75% of those who reach out are female, and almost every one of these great ladies has said they would like more posts related to Communication in Marriage.
Well, be careful what you ask for! 🙂
While I noticed that many women cited Communication as a huge issue, it was not a top response for the men I’ve spoken with. It occurred to me that I needed to write a post (many actually) to help bridge the disconnect.
To start, I thought I’d deal with an issue that has popped up in our marriage repeatedly over the years. Honestly, it is still an issue, but we are certainly getting better at dealing with it.
So, what’s the big secret?
Doesn’t it seem like your husband or fiance should just know that the laundry needs to be done and your sweater can only be washed on the delicate cycle? It should be obvious that helping out with the kid’s science fair exhibit is priority number one the night before it’s due, right?
And if you have to tell him that you really like the Russian White paint color for the shelves worlds better than that putrid Eggshell White option, he just doesn’t even know you. I mean seriously, how can the man you love be so darn thick sometimes?
Ladies, I am hear to tell you that he really doesn’t know! Men cannot read minds. And not only can we not read minds, we are oftentimes very inept at picking up on subtle (and not so subtle) hints.
Most of the time, we really do intend to please you and help out with all of the many family duties that we share in our households. And we are happy to do so if we are made aware, very clearly aware, of what is expected of us.
Whether you have your own kids are not, you are probably aware of how direct you have to be when communicating with children. I am here to tell you that when you really want something to be done correctly and to your exact specifications, your best bet is to take this same approach with your husband.
I am not saying that you treat your husband like a child. But I am telling you that many times your husband perceives and infers with the effectiveness of a child. And we very rarely do a good job of reading your thoughts.
So, you now know that men are thick sometimes (news flash, right?). To get what you want, your best bet is to communicate your desires clearly.
This could mean that you write things down with specific instructions when necessary. You can make a real honey-do list, which we actually prefer because we can check off all the great things we have accomplished as we get them done.
When you tell your husband something, make sure he really hears you. If you have something important to discuss, maybe you should bring it up during your 15 minutes as a couple that day to ensure you are fully in tune with one another.
Sorry guys, you are not off the hook here. You really need to listen to your wife when she speaks to you.
That’s listen, not just hear, as there is a huge difference.
And by all means do some things for your wife and family without being asked. I like to keep a mental checklist (yours could be an actual list) of things that my wife has asked me repeatedly to do over time. I am far from perfect, and my own thickness causes me to forget or overlook opportunities to serve my wife better.
However, I strive very hard to remain plugged into her needs, even if they seem menial to me (Russian White?, I mean seriously).
When you take a proactive approach and get things done before your spouses asks, you look like a real gentleman. Trust me fellas, an empty kitchen sink can be a very romantic sight to a busy wife.
Okay, so I need to work on that one.
For most of you, this post was not necessarily filled with earth-shattering revelations. However, with something as fundamental as good communication skills, I think we can all use a friendly reminder from time-to-time. The important thing is that you actually take some action as a result of reading this stuff.
Ladies, the next time you “wish” your husband would do something, just tell him rather than expecting him to read your mind. It may seem like he should just know, but many times he really does not and getting frustrated about it doesn’t help either of you. Show him the way and he will learn what you expect of him more clearly.
Gentlemen, just know sometimes. Give some conscious thought to something that you could do for your wife without being asked.
And do it…tonight. You don’t have to tell her that you read some dude’s post on the internet.
Just do it and don’t say a word. When your wife notices and questions you about it, just tell her “I love you, babe, and I know I need to help out more. Please just let me know when you have something you’d like me to do.”
Photo by CarbonNYC
Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.