This is an excerpt from my book, "YOU CAN HAVE A HAPPY FAMILY - Steps to Enjoying Your Marriage and Children." It's taken from the chapter "What Women Need."
Understanding and Empathy
Loving unconditionally doesn’t mean you have to agree with your wife or understand her. Understanding and empathy were two important needs women wrote about. I know we are complex and hard to figure out, but you don’t have to understand us to be understanding.
For example, when I share a concern with my husband, he instantly wants to fix it by giving me a solution. I don’t want him to fix everything. Most of the time I want him to listen to me and show me
compassion. I’m not expecting him to understand what I’m feeling. I just want him to understand that it’s important to me. I want him to listen to how I feel. He’s getting better at knowing when I want a listening ear. And I’m getting better at not getting mad when he gives me a solution instead.
Women, we need to be understanding with our husbands and not get mad when they don’t understand us. Do we honestly think our husbands can understand all the emotions we feel? Men, next time your wives want to talk, listen and have a little empathy to show you care about their feelings. That’s all we want.
Women are more emotional than men. We tend to take things personally and get offended more easily than men. My husband gets confused trying to understand me. He says women are too complex compared to men. We need to believe the best in each other and realize we are different. God made us different to complement each other, not to bring separation.
Knowing you are made differently, so you think differently, will help you understand your wife better. It may seem to you that your wife overreacts to things, but maybe she just sees it differently. She won’t see it the way you do because she is different. It may be nothing to you, but it might be something to her.
One man explained how he shows understanding to his wife: “I do not take any issues too seriously regardless of the way my wife overreacts to small situations.”
In general, women are more expressive and men are more direct. We want to get to the root of the problem and men want to solve it and move on. If you are patient with her and remain calm, regardless of her reaction, the problem will get resolved quicker than if you keep escalating it by getting angry. She may only want to express how she feels. By being calm and caring, you can work together to solve the situation.
It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.
Arguing solves nothing. It only separates us more. Strife always begins when someone wants their way. All my arguments with my husband stem from one or both of us wanting to be right. James 3:16 says, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”
Many households are full of disorder, and it stems from self-centeredness. One man wrote, “You must die to self. When there are dry seasons in any relationship, someone has to take the first step toward making things work.” We need to be the one to take that step and do our part to keep strife out of our marriages.
I believe one of the reasons women want empathy is because we have a lot we have to do each day. We want our husbands to notice. I’m at home with children all day. Listening to a crying baby, and breaking up fights over whose toy is whose wears on me mentally and emotionally. My husband would make it worse if he came home and told me how to handle it better, or that I should try doing what he does. All I want is a little empathy.
Being a mother is a 24/7 job and it gets tiring. We spend all day doing things that have to be done again the next day. Most of the time we don’t see our accomplishments until our children are grown. We then pray to see positive fruits of our labor as our children grow into adults. We are affirmed only after we have poured our lives into raising them. This can be emotionally hard during these years.
Whether your wife is at work or chauffeuring children all day, she needs to see that you notice and appreciate her. We want empathy and support from our husbands for all we do to care for our families. We don’t want our husbands getting angry with us when we’re emotionally falling apart. That only weighs us down more.
Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
One man said, “I try to see the other person’s position, not through their arguments, but after reflection and consideration.” Stopping and putting ourselves in our spouses’ shoes will give us an insight into how they feel and where they are coming from. We all think we have the hardest job no matter what we do. We don’t need to play the “My job is harder than yours” game. We need to show compassion and support for one another.
Telling your wife how much you appreciate all she does for your family will lift her spirit. When she’s had a hard day, sit down and listen to her and comfort her, even if you’ve had a hard day. Once again, it’s about putting your spouse’s needs above your own. This is where you will find true enjoyment and satisfaction in your marriage. It will also help you to be more empathetic when your wife doesn’t do everything the way you want her to.
One woman said she and her husband value each others’ feelings more than the task they expect from each other. We need to value our spouses and show appreciation instead of picking at everything.
If you would like to read more excerpts from my book, click here.