By Rabbi Yitzy Hurwitz
One of the biggest complaints women have to their husbands is “He doesn’t listen.” The problem is that men have no idea what women mean when they say that.
The first thing you need to know is that women have a natural need to be understood. When they feel understood they feel loved. They will even tell their best friend “I really feel like he understands me.” Translation: “I feel loved.”
This is difficult for men to understand because men don’t have a natural need to be understood. Becoming a good listener takes a lot of patience and effort. The reward is tremendous.
The next thing to understand is that, being natural listeners, women get extremely frustrated when you don’t listen. That makes for an unhappy wife, you don’t want to go there.
The reward for becoming a good listener is a happy wife, a deep, close and meaningful relationship. She will become your strongest advocate and stay by your side thick and thin.
Listening is understanding her from her perspective. To do this, first you need to shut down your way of thinking and experience her feelings from her perspective. This way you really get to know her, not your understanding of her, but her understanding of her.
Listening is more than hearing words. Women say a lot without talking. They use facial expressions, body language, clothing and self care to express themselves and expect you to notice.
Women are detail oriented. They especially notice things that are wrong or out of place. For example, she could be all made up and dressed to the nines. You see an amazing, flawless sight. All she sees is a small pimple that appeared on her chin.
Men, on the other hand, see the big picture but miss the details.
Listening requires noticing details and putting the clues together to form a conclusion. At minimum you should notice that something is wrong or that something is different. Then you will be able to ask “What is wrong?” or “What is different?” If not you are “clueless,” don’t be clueless.
Here are some tips for good listening:
1. Set times for listening.
Make it a habit that the first five minutes when you come home is for listening. Ask your wife how her day was. Imagine how good she will feel, knowing that she is first on your mind when you come home.
A good time for listening is after the children are asleep but if she is too tired at that time, do it earlier. It is okay for the kids to see you together talking, it will be a valuable lesson and will give them a sense of stability.
The main thing is that you set times that work for the two of you, and that you keep them. Your wife will look forward to being with you at that time.
“I don’t have the time” and “I’m to busy” are not exceptable excuses, make the time.
2. No opinions.
All she wants is for you to listen and understand, that’s it. Refrain from sharing your suggestions, opinions or advice, they are not relevant to her feelings. Just listen and understand.
3. Hear the new material.
Women change every day, so every day there is more to tell. There are also deeper parts of herself to share. What you heard yesterday is not enough today. There are new facets discovered today that need to be shared. There are also new things going on in her life.
4. ‘Listen’ to the motions.
When you are listening look at her. Notice her expressions and body language. Every so often, give her a subtle hint to let her know that you understand. It could be a nod or a soft sound. This will let her know that you are paying attention. If you don’t, she will assume you didn’t understand and repeat herself. She will get aggravated and complain that “he doesn’t listen.”
5. No distractions whatsoever
You are not required to be listening all the time but rather when you are supposed to be listening do it correctly. Be focused and pay attention. Remove distractions, put away you cell phone and teach the children not to disturb you at this time. Let her feel like you are totally there for her, let her feel like you are interested in knowing her.
It is my hope that you put these tips to the test, and that that this contributes to your wife’s happiness. Her happiness will surely contribute to your happiness. Happy wife happy life.
Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz is the founder of Chabad Jewish Center in Temecula, CA. He is married to Dina and has 7 children and is currently living in Los Angeles as he battels ALS disease. Visit his blog at yitzihurwitz.blogspot.com. To donate to his medical costs, visit hurwitzfamilyfund.com