Recently I tried to help a husband understand why his wife was frustrated and hurt. I worked hard to help him be able to see things from her perspective. He didn’t get it. I tried explaining it two or three different ways and he still didn’t get it. I used an example in his own life that would have been very similar in nature to the frustration his wife was feeling. Finally, it seemed as though it began to click. He turned slightly towards his wife to say that it “kinda made sense.” Then he turned back to me and said in a somewhat frustrated tone of voice: “I could have said that a long time ago, but that doesn’t solve anything.”
And I had a light bulb moment!
They were looking at the issue from two completely different perspectives.
He was thinking: how can I resolve the problem? What can I do to fix the issue? What does she want me to do?
She was thinking: there is distance between us and he is not listening. He doesn’t understand me. I don’t think he cares.
He wanted an action to take; she wanted love to overtake.
I told him that by coming to the place where he could truly understand his wife and her feelings, he in fact was solving something. He was solving the problem of the felt distance between them!
Here is something that is true about each of us: we all want to be heard and understood! Saying it another way, we want to be known and accepted. What we may be feeling or thinking at the moment may not be correct, but we want someone to take the time and make the effort to enter our world and at least understand what it is we are feeling and why.
This is true even of men.
I know. I am one.
In many if not most cases however, it is harder for men to admit the desire to be understood. We have been hardened by the idea that we must be tough and therefore not need anyone. This is also true of some women, especially those who have been used and abused. Their heart grows cold and people are kept at a distance in hopes of not being hurt again.
But deep inside, we all want someone to be in our world. We weren’t meant to do life on our own. God said it Himself, “it is not good for man to be alone…” And ultimately it is part of why God sent Jesus to live in this world and walk in our shoes.
Last night I was struggling with a decision about some future plans. I shared my struggle with my wife. She had an idea and I shook my head in response. “That’s not it.” She had another and another. Nope, those weren’t solving my problem either. For about 20 minutes we went back and forth until I thought to myself solving my problem was the worst thing she could do! I just needed my concerns to be heard and understood! Interestingly enough, as that eventually occurred, it became clear on what action I needed to take. I think I knew the answer all along, but having her understand my concerns, strengthened me to follow through with what I felt was right.
The ironic thing is that when you love each other first with your ears, you will find yourself much closer to resolving issues too! (Tweet this!)
This weekend, rather than making problem solving your focus, spend time just giving each other the joy of your presence, your ears to hear, and a heart to understand.
Question: As you “listen” to what I have written, what do you hear me saying? You can leave a comment by clicking here.