8 WAYS TO COMMUNICATE WITH A HUSBAND WHEN HE DOESN’T WANT TO LISTEN
By Lynette Kittle
As a wife, do you ever see that blank stare in your husband’s eyes when you’re talking to him, knowing full well he’s checked out and isn’t hearing a word you’re saying? Whether it’s an excess of words coming at him out in the world, or from us, how do we as wives keep our husbands’ ears open to hear us?
Because my husband is a pastor and counselor, some may think I have a spouse who happily listens to me day-in and day-out, 24/7.
He is a good listener but he’s also human. With work that requires him to constantly be attentive and listening, by the time he arrives home after a full day, his face looks pretty much listened out. By the weekend, he’s in dire need of some listening-free zones.
So how do we communicate with a husband when he doesn’t want to listen? Below are eight ways to gain his ear.
1. Communicate through Change
As wives, if our husbands aren’t listening to us, it’s a cue to re-evaluate how we’re speaking to them. Questions to ask ourselves include “How are we approaching them with our words?”
Are we pointing out all the negative things happening in the world, complaining, nagging, picking fights, or overloading our husbands with information?
As Proverbs 21:19 points out, “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.”
Because many men are wired to fix problems, our words can cause them to feel overwhelmed and overloaded, in trying to figure out how they can make everything right for us.
Whereas we may have all this information pent up inside of us and just want to vent or share it with our husbands, it may come out unleashed like a volcano, erupting and spewing a hot lava fire of words over him, covering him with a heavy burden to bear.
Proverbs 25:24 explains how a husband might feel at this bombarding: “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”
Through self-reflection we can determine if we need to adjust our speech, to consider more effective ways of approaching our husbands with our words on a day-to-day basis. We can examine the patterns we’ve set up of communicating with them and be open to changing how we speak to them.
2. Communicate through Editing
I’ve discovered, like many women, that sometimes the more words I speak to my husband, the less of my words he seems to hear.
Although I may think my talking is offering needed direction to him, stressing and strengthening my points, they may just be falling by the excessive expressions wayside.
Many women may believe “more is better,” when it comes to the number of words we speak to our husbands. But instead of being beneficial, the more words we say can actually have the opposite effect, where our words become like a leaky, dripping roof in a rainstorm (Proverbs 27:15).
Mysteriously, the fewer words I speak to my husband, the more impact they seem to have on him and the more effectively he seems to receive them.
3. Communicate with Care
Nowadays couples communicate more and more through technology, and less and less face-to-face or even voice-to-voice. Many of us are communicating with our husbands via text on a regular basis, even when we’re both in the same location.
During graduate school, I worked on a group project where we studied the effectiveness of text messaging. We found it was the easiest way to miscommunicate tone with someone. To text in the most effective way, one needs to use a surplus of non-verbal emojis to convey the true tone of their texts.
As wives, we want to take great care in the texts we sent to our husbands so they don’t come across as snarky, bossy, mean, and more. Communicating with them in a kind, loving, even playful manner will go a long way. Colossians 4:6 urges us to “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
4. Communicate Affectionately
Without even realizing it in the busyness of life, it’s easy to let the holding a hand, a kiss hello or good-bye, or a warm pat or hug in passing to fall by the wayside and be pushed out by life’s ongoing demands.
Reaching out in love with a gentle touch can communicate more to our husbands than a ton of words. Like 1 Peter 4:8 explains, “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Affectionately communicating love and acceptance softens a heart, along with disarming defenses and built-up walls. Requiring no words, genuine TLC (Tender, Loving Care) can reach our husbands in a way that cultivates their hearts to turn towards us and tune their ears towards hearing our words.
5. Communicate Non-Verbally
If our husbands aren’t listening with their ears, then maybe we need to find a non-verbal way for them to hear our hearts.
One way to accomplish it is to do things for them without putting words to it. There is much truth in the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.”
Often words can be cheap and fall by the wayside, especially if we haven’t chosen them wisely in the past but actions can speak volumes.
Without making a big deal about what we are doing, fold his laundry, buy his favorite snack, cook his favorite meal, put on his favorite movie, tidy up his space, and so on.
Give our husbands the opportunity to hear with their eyes and their hearts. I Peter 3:1 reminds us how a husband’s heart can be won over by us quietly meeting his needs.
6. Communicate through Space
Being out in the world or even constantly online can cause a husband to feel overloaded when it comes to information. When I see my husband looking like his listening skills are checked out, I like to give him space because timing in communicating often makes all the difference.
Instead of approaching him when he first walks in the door or gets up in the morning, waiting for more opportune listening times can make all the difference in whether he hears me or not.
Husbands have various ways of refueling and refreshing physically and emotionally. Giving them room to work out things that may have worn them down or stressed them out is vital to their overall well-being.
Respecting a husband’s time and space communicates more to him than most of us wives realize. Space to have downtime for enjoyment, refreshing, and to work through life issues goes along with Ephesians 5:33 which encourages wives to be respectful towards their husbands.
7. Communicate through Prayer
If it seems like our husbands aren’t hearing us, instead of getting louder, adding words, and talking more, we can turn to God and seek His help in opening up our husband’s ears to hear us.
Sometimes it’s various attitudes within our husband affecting their ability to hear, ones not caused by us or connected to our actions but influences only the Lord can effectively address in them.
Isaiah 50:5 speaks about how not listening may be tied to a rebellious attitude toward Him. “The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away.”
As well, stubbornness causes a husband to cover his ears and stop listening. “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears” (Zechariah 7:11).
Thankfully God knows how to reach our husband’s ears when our words are falling short. Proverbs 20:12 reminds us that “Ears that hear and eyes that see—the Lord has made both.”
8. Communicate through God
Scripture describes how a calloused heart can cause ears not to hear. It also explains how a soft heart can lead them to hear again.
“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them” (Matthew 13:15).
Wives can ask God to soften a husband’s calloused heart. The world we live in can be a pretty brutal place at times, easily causing a husband’s heart to grow hardened and cold.