BY RICK JOHNSON

MEN DON’T LIKE to be told what to do. And a woman can appear to be telling a man what to do, even if that isn’t her intention. For instance, every time you say, “You should...,” “You’ve got to...,” or “You need to...,” you’re giving a man a directive. You might be trying to help, but men interpret these statements to mean that they aren’t capable of solving problems on their own.

You see, even though men like to solve your problems, they prefer to solve their own. But there’s hope! If you want your husband to listen when you talk, apply these five tips. They really work!

TIP #1 GIVE HIM A PROBLEM TO SOLVE
Men love to problem-solve. As a result, you can get more cooperation from a man if you present your concerns as a “problem” that he can help solve. Rather than nagging him about an issue that’s troubling you, say something like, “Honey, I have a problem that I’d really like to get your help with.” He’ll be much more willing to address the problem under those circumstances. 

TIP #2 USE PROPER TIMING
If you bombard a man with complaints the minute he walks in the door, he’s unlikely to listen. He needs time to unwind and recharge his batteries. Proverbs 25:11 perfectly summarizes this point: “The right word at the right time is like golden apples in silver jewelry” (New International Reader’s Version). But, unfortunately, most women anxiously wait to unload the burdens they’ve accumulated all day. However, giving your husband a little time (about 30 minutes) to decompress will do the trick! When he gets home, say, “Honey, after you get a chance to unwind a little, I’d love to run a few things past you. Let me know when you’re ready – no big deal.” It’s important for him to understand that it’s not a big deal. That way, he won’t feel stressed while he’s unwinding.

TIP #3 SPEAK PLAINLY
Men are very poor mind readers – and they aren’t able to read between the lines very well either. If you hint around a subject, hoping that your husband will get it on his own, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Men hate trying to guess what you want – or worse, trying to guess what is wrong. Therefore, directly tell your husband what you want and how you feel. Women like to drop subtle hints, but men aren’t very subtle. Asking a man if he noticed “anything different” after you got a new haircut is setting him up for failure. You’d be better off asking, “Honey, how does my new hairstyle look?” At least he’ll know how to answer that question. 

TIP #4 OFFER FORGIVENESS
Women seem to have much longer memories than men, especially in the area of mistakes. My wife can recall nearly everything I’ve ever said or done to hurt her – by date, time, and the severity of the incident – for the past 26 years. Most of the time, once I get something off my chest, I forget about it. However, when my wife generously forgives my mistakes, it allows me to learn from them. Thus, view forgiveness as a powerful communication tool. When you forgive your husband, you’re essentially communicating, “I love you, I value you, and I believe in you.”

TIP #5 ALLOW FOR GROWTH
Many women have a deeper faith in God than the average guy. Yet, men are looked upon to be the spiritual leaders of their homes. This can be an intimidating challenge. In fact, when I came to the Lord at age 40, I didn’t know a single Scripture, and I could barely pray. However, my wife gently insisted that I be the spiritual leader in our home. Consistently, she requested that I say grace at dinner, and told the kids to ask me their spiritual questions. She did this with love and faith – never mentioning when I got something wrong, and always praising my efforts in front of our children. Even though she was spiritually more mature, my wife allowed me to grow. Her grace and communication style made me a better husband, a better dad, and a better leader. c

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