I’ve often found myself at a point of wanting to share my feelings with my husband, but feeling afraid of his response. Communication can be difficult, just in the day to day matters of a home. Add heartfelt emotions to the mix and a conversation can get intense pretty quickly. Maybe he’ll want to fix the problem; he may point out that I messed something up; what if he doesn’t even want to listen? Here are 4 ideas for when communication is difficult.
1. Write a letter.
My husband processes information at a different rate, and in a different way, than I do. I’ve found that writing a letter expressing my feelings – positive or negative – gives him time to process my words and the intent behind them. If what I’m sharing with him is negative, I try to sandwich it between positive statements so that he doesn’t feel overwhelmed.
If I’m sharing a problem or an issue I’m struggling with, I try to remember to end the letter with, “Can we talk soon?” This lets him know that I want to continue the conversation in person, but it also gives him time to think about my feelings and about how he may be able to help.
Sometimes I just want him to listen – to hear and understand my feelings. I will share that in the letter as well. Men are wired to instinctively want to fix things. It’s okay to tell him you just want to be heard.
2. Go outside.
Some of our best conversations happen outside on a quiet evening. There’s something about the fresh air, the sweet sounds of nature, and being out of the house. I don’t know about you but it seems that so much of our marital stress is inside the house – bills, repairs needed, scheduling issues – so actually getting outside our four walls can help immensely. We can enjoy God’s creation and focus on our time together.
3. Find a neutral location.
Some conversations require extra sensitivity. Often these start in our home, maybe even move outside, but when we still can’t complete them, we’ll often talk about them in a neutral location. We’ve talked in restaurants, home improvement stores, a bookstore. We aren’t likely to make a scene if the conversation gets heated, and so we focus on being civil and getting through the conversation.
4. Make a plan.
There are those conversations that require some time and effort. Often, we can’t see eye to eye, or land on the same page no matter how hard we try. We usually both have valid points to make in a discussion, but getting together to have the conversation (and complete it) can be tricky so we make a plan. We write it on the calendar, clear our schedules and come together prepared to discuss and to hear from each other.
If you’re looking for a place to get started in making a plan, I highly recommend Grace Goals. It’s a method rooted in grace to challenge you to set new goals – could be related to marriage, could be related to other areas in your life. The great part is that the goals can be determined between you and the Lord, but you can work through the Grace Goals plan with others. Consider joining us!
Bonus: Hold hands.
So often our conversations become heated because I am not always a very patient person. I get frustrated if I feel that my husband can’t understand my point of view. (I’m a work in progress….) When we hold hands, though, I have the physical reassurance that he is for me, on my side, willing and wanting to support me. The physical touch creates an emotional bond that often helps us through the tricky spots.
I always think back to the passage in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 when I think about our communication efforts:
Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
The end of that verse brings me to my final thought:
Remember to pray. Pray for your communication efforts – that God would open your heart and your husband’s heart. Pray that God’s will would be your ultimate goal as a couple. Ask the Lord to provide what is needed. Remember, God’s plans are higher than ours!
Do you have other tips for when communication is difficult? Please feel free to share them in the comments so that we can all benefit!