If your husband doesn’t understand you or doesn’t seem to care that something is bothering you, can you really fix it?
Every Monday I like to answer a reader question. But this Monday–indeed, this week–we’re going to do something a little different. Last Monday I answered the question, “what do I do when my husband refuses to talk about something important?”
I had so much feedback that I decided to dedicate this week to how to talk about these issues! Today we’re going to start with our own hearts. Then, once we’ve dealt with our own stuff, we can move on to how to have those important conversations. Tomorrow I’ll look at 10 ways to talk so that your husband will hear you, and then we’ll look at the only way to resolve marriage conflicts.
If you really struggle with this in your marriage, just know that EVERYTHING that I’m saying this week is also in my book 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage–but that book covers it in so much more detail! We’re dealing with the two thoughts this week–“I’m called to be a PeaceMAKER, not a PeaceKEEPER”, and “I can find a Win/Win”.
I hope it’s so helpful!
So let’s jump in.
One of the big themes in my book is that you can’t deal with problems between the two of you unless you first examine yourself. It’s like Jesus said in Matthew 7:3-5:
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
It’s not that you can’t confront your husband when he’s doing something wrong–in fact, over the next two days we’re going to talk about how to do that! It’s just that we’ll be much more effective at doing so when we first deal with our own stuff.
Here’s what one commenter wrote last week:
I wonder how many husbands out there refuse to talk about issues, because they don’t feel safe to share their point of view or their opinion does not get heard. I think all too often the ” honey, we need to talk” means that the wife is trying to get the husband to do what she wants… No wonder he’ll shut down!
But to be totally honest, often when I’m feeling lonely or upset in my marriage, it isn’t these big things.
So let me tell you a story:
(I wrote this a few years back; I’m sure some of you can relate):
Imagine that it’s a Saturday morning, and we’re planning to go cross-country skiing with the kids. As soon as I wake, I start to list in my head all the things that need to be prepared: the kids have to find their snow pants, and I know Rebecca’s been missing a snow glove since last month; we need to pack a bag with water and some snacks, and we’d better bring some extra scarves and hats in case we get too wet. A few band-aids wouldn’t hurt, either. Obviously we’ll have to do the dinner dishes from last night, since we all know I can’t leave dishes in the sink if I’m leaving the house. And since we’re going out anyway, we may as well go by the library, because the books are due on Monday!
I go in search of my family, who are downstairs playing the Wii, having a grand old time. My blood pressure starts to rise. Do they expect me to do everything? Then I discover they haven’t even had breakfast yet. Why was Keith just playing with the kids instead of giving them their marching orders?
Yet no matter how much I may wish it, they are never going to have all the stuff that goes into keeping a family together in their heads the way it is in mine. And maybe that’s okay. We all have different roles to play. When it comes to the kids, I’m more like the General. I’m scanning for threats, planning future battles, and mapping out supply routes. Keith, on the other hand, is the crusty sergeant. Usually he’s just goofing around with the troops, but when there’s a specific task to do, he can bark orders with the best of them.
What I’ve learned is that when we have a big day ahead of us, I just need to communicate to my husband all the things I think need to get done. He crosses off what’s unnecessary, talks me down, and then organizes the rest. Instead of fuming at him for not thinking about it in the first place, I’ve started sharing the load. It works so much better.
When I used to see Keith playing with the kids or goofing off when I had a long to-do list in my head of all the stuff I had to get done, my first reaction was usually anger.
- Did he expect me to do everything?
- Doesn’t he care that we’re nowhere near ready to go?
- Why can’t he ever plan for the day? Why is it always my responsibility?
But then I started to ask myself:
- Do I really believe that Keith expects me to do all the work for the family?
- Do I really believe that Keith is lazy?
- Do I really believe that he doesn’t value our schedule the same way that I do?
And the answer would always be no.
The simple fact was that Keith just didn’t see it in the same way that I did. And if I took the time to ask for help and laid out what I thought needed to be done, he was usually quite happy to comply, especially when I did it without any kind of blame or anger.
In my case it was about stuff around the house that needed to get done. In your case it may be something different: you feel like your husband doesn’t understand you or value you because he doesn’t buy you a good birthday present; he doesn’t want to spend time with you; he doesn’t ask about your day or try to probe what’s going on in your heart. But it may not be that he doesn’t care; it may simply be that he has a different love language or values different things.
If you struggle with anger as your first response, here are some other posts that can help:
BUT–perhaps you ask those questions and the answer is actually YES! I do believe that my husband doesn’t understand me and doesn’t care about me.
That may be true. But most guys really aren’t that mean.
So can I suggest something?
If you think your husband doesn’t understand you and doesn’t care about you, try asking for what you need.
Say it like this,
Honey, I’m so excited about today’s outing with the kids! I’ll get the lunches and the snacks ready; how about you grab the snow pants and extra scarves and hats?
Don’t give him a lecture or get angry, because that’s disrespectful and what often causes guys to withdraw. Just be kind and straightforward. And if you ask him with the starting point that you he is irresponsible while you are responsible, then it will sound like an attack and that will NOT help your marriage.
So refrain from giving him a lecture, like:
Why are you playing games with the kids when there’s so much to do? Are you just waiting or me to do it all? The kids need their snow pants and scarves!
Just ask him kindly.
If you have trouble with that, here are some extra posts that can help:
What if that doesn’t work? Don’t worry, we’ll get to that in the next few days!
But for today, remember this:
- When I feel angry at my husband, do a reality check: “Do I really believe that my husband thinks that way?”
- Look at the situation and ask, “do we simply see things differently?
- Ask kindly and simply for what you need.
Sometimes that’s all it takes for things to turn around!
Tune in tomorrow when we get really practical with 10 ways to talk so your husband will hear!
Let me know in the comments: Has asking for help simply and kindly ever brought surprising results in your marriage?