Take a trip with me down Memory Lane. Remember what it was like when you first met your mate: what was your first date like? How about the second and third date?
My guess is you might describe the time as magical. Lost in your mate’s words (and perhaps eyes), you talked for hours. You could not listen long enough. You could not learn enough about them.
My wife and I sat for hours that first night. I don’t recall the exact nature of the conversation, but I remember that I didn’t want to leave. The conversation flowed effortlessly and I promised to see her again soon to continue the conversation.
While those first few dates cannot be replicated exactly, we can continue the conversation. We can act as if there is an endless amount of conversing we could do — and there is!
We all long to be understood. We want our mate to take the time to really ‘get us.’ We want our mate to listen attentively to what we say, and of course, be impacted by it. This is, perhaps more than anything, what it means to be truly connected with one another.
I have worked with thousands of couples during my career, and many of them intensively since specializing in Marriage Counseling over the past ten years. Over the past several years I conducted an informal study about what women want their husbands to know. I’m sharing a few of those ‘secrets’ with you now:
First, care about and inquire as to what she thinks.
The Apostle James said it well: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Certainly this is true. Furthermore, men (and women) must care about and inquire as to what our mates think. What is important to them? Take an active interest in them and notice how they respond to that love and attention.
Second, see her as a separate individual.
Actively listening to her will lead to seeing our mate as an individual. They are not extensions of us. They are individuals, with differing feelings, thoughts and interests, and want to be seen accordingly. As you take the time to listen to your mate, value what they have to say. Honor their feedback and respond to that information.
Third, trust her.
Women are generally the ones who read about relationships. They buy and read books about marriage, scour the Internet for information, and push for intimacy and connection. Subsequently, they can be trusted when it comes to matters pertaining to marriage. They want to be trusted when they speak about needs of the marriage and family and typically deserve that respect.
Fourth, her distress is a cry for help.
Her distress is a cry for change and connection. When women speak, men need to listen. Failure to listen will lead to an ultimate closing of her heart and, once it is closed, may remain closed for a long time. Listen to her distress, including her anger, and consider what she is trying to tell you. If she didn’t love you, she would not be upset with you.
Finally, sit with healthy remorse and truly apologize.
She needs to see and feel your care. She needs to know you are sorry for hurting her. She needs to hear ‘I’m sorry,’ and know you truly mean it. She needs you to sit with your remorse for as long as it takes for her heart to heal. She needs to see genuine change and repentance, and know those changes can be trusted.
[written by Dr. David B. Hawkins]