Listen to Her- No Quick Fix
I’m about to give you a front row ticket. It might not be an NFL playoff game, but lean in and listen because you’re about to be the proverbial fly on the wall to a fairly common discussion in our kitchen:
It’s 5:30pm, the kids have all been home (aka climbing the walls) for hours, the house is an explosion of random kid junk, I’m making dinner and Josh (my husband) just walked in from work.
Me: quiet, withdrawn, washing dishes with “that look” on my face
Him: “Something wrong, babe? You ok?”
Me: “Honestly? I’m super overwhelmed right now.”
Him: “ Ok….”
Me: “I mean, the kids have been running around like crazy people, the baby won’t stop whining, the house is a freaking disaster, and I just realized I don’t have everything for dinner. I’m behind on orders from the shop, Zoe was really needy and I still haven’t planned for my meeting tomorrow.”
Him: “Ok! Let me just go change and I’ll take the boys to karate and you can have a break.”
I was truly grateful for his help.
But maybe you’ve heard the old “I don’t want you to fix it! I want you to listen!” line a time or two. Helping your wife and making her feel seen and heard are not mutually exclusive. So my challenge to you is to go deeper. Because that overwhelm your wife feels? Or frustration? Or sadness? It’s a symptom. It’s not the main issue.
Let me share three big problems that those emotions can stem from:
- Basic needs are not being met. Sleep, regular (good) food, hydration, fresh air, emotional and mental rest.
- Too many plates in the air. Trying to manage too many things. Not enough margin.
- Inner hurt that isn’t being dealt with. This is the hardest one because it’s easy to cover up with other distractions, but it is the piece of sand in her eye that causes everything else to malfunction.
Listen, we’re all carrying heavy burdens. You carry them too. Maybe the fresh air your wife craves (maybe what you crave) is empathy.
When my husband takes the time to notice my day-to-day (including how I feel about those things) and seeks to understand it better, it changes everything.
A few ideas that might help get the conversation going:
–”Hey, I know you’re working really hard and doing a lot. Can we look at your normal day and see where we can make some tweaks?”
–”You’re so hot. 😉 But I can also tell you’re really tired. Go take a nap and then we can talk about what feels overwhelming right now.”
–”You seem to come alive when you do ______. How can I help you make time for more of that?”
— “I know that _____ was really hurtful. Why don’t you tell me about that?”
I can’t promise that the path towards a deeper connection with your wife won’t ever get rocky, BUT the reward is great and worth every uncomfortable moment it takes to get there.
Written by UNCOMMEN Contributor, Dana Hartness