When Karen and I first got married, I didn't like to talk. However, Karen wanted to talk all the time—and about everything. When I came home from work, she barraged me with questions about my day. Where did you go? Who did you see? What did you say? How did you feel about that?
Instead of answering her questions, I would mumble a few single-word answers and then shut down. I thought she was being nosy. I understood she wanted general information about what happened at work, but I didn't see any need to share more than that. My feelings were my feelings.
That mindset nearly destroyed our marriage. She needed patient, loving communication from me, and I was refusing to provide it. God helped me realize that communication was one of the things that connects her to me and to my world. Only when I started opening up to Karen did our marriage begin to heal.
Related to communication, here are two things I often teach married couples:
I tell women to be more sexual than they feel. Women typically don't need sex as much as their husbands do. It's important to meet that need, so wives should give their husbands the gift of sex.
I tell men to be more talkative than they feel. Men may not need to talk as much, but communication is something a wife needs. Husbands, when you come home from work—whether you feel like it or not—open up to her. Offer details about your day. Give your wife the gift of communication.
Men and women are different in this area. A husband needs to respect his wife's need for open, patient, honest, emotional communication.
When communicating with each other, men and women tend to hear through their deepest needs.
A man's deepest need is the need for honor and respect. He wants to know that his wife thinks he's a good man. It's a big deal.
A woman's deepest need is for security. She wants to know that her husband is tuned into her and willing to sacrifice for her. She wants assurance that he will put her needs and the needs of the family first.
So when men and women communicate with one another, we have to encrypt our language with those needs. Karen can read between the lines very quickly. Regardless of the conversation, she knows if I'm speaking her language of security.
She will be listening to my tone, hoping to hear "I care about you. I'm tuned in. I'll do whatever it takes for you and our family." That communicates security to her.
Karen doesn't want to hear a tone that says, "I'm disconnected and checked out. Something else is on my mind right now and it's not you."
Meanwhile, when she talks to me, I want to hear in her tone, "I love you. I believe in you. I respect you. You're a good man." If something in her tone doesn't communicate that, then it jams the frequency of our communication.
Positive communication between a husband and wife is essential to a healthy marriage—and must take these needs into account. What are your words and tone communicating to your spouse?
The Power of Positive Communication