A wife longs for her husband to hear her heart. She becomes insecure when he does not. What can she do?
Given your husband has goodwill and wants to do God’s will, I suggest looking in four areas and trying to “H.E.A.R.” your husband.
H: Honor his desire to honor God. If there is any positive thing you see in his walk with God, say, “I want to honor your desire to honor God. I have noticed how you _____.” Fill in the blank. While most likely there are things you wish he did in his walk with God that he isn’t currently doing, don’t go there. This exercise is about addressing the positive—how you see your husband honoring God—because it is true, honorable, and right.
E: Esteem his desire to esteem you. I assume your husband responds to you with appreciation and he does so as his way of valuing you. Look for it. Say to him, “I want to esteem your desire to esteem me. The other day you said/did _____. Thank you for that.” Again, though the next day he may fail, you are mature enough to look past this. If our Lord fixated on our failures, how soon into our Christian journey would we give up? But He keeps encouraging us and believing in us in spite of our sinful flops. We continue to walk with Him because we know He sees our deepest heart.
A: Admire his desire to admire good examples. A goodwilled man will have heroes, even if only one. There is someone he admires and seeks to emulate at some level. You can speak to him about this. You can say, “I admire your desire to be inspired by the men you admire. I noticed how much you admire __________ for his qualities of ___________.” Even if there is not a single, specific individual that your husband has mentioned by name whom he admires, you probably know the characteristics that he admires and tries to emulate and even pass on to his children. Things like courage, honesty, perseverance, hard work. Tell him that you admire his desire to learn from others and live these things out in his own life.
R: Respect his desire to respect undeserving people. Are there people in your husband’s life who are making a mess of things? Given you have noticed your husband reaching out to them at some level, speak into this. “I respect your desire to respect _______. He is undeserving yet you have respected his deepest heart. You believe in him. I salute you.”
In each instance, you are focused on your husband’s good desires. You are seeking to honor, esteem, admire, and respect his desires. Yes, he will fall short of acting perfectly on these desires, but don’t focus on the glass half empty.
Do not overdo it. Take one a week for a month. Do these in any order. If the occasion arises to repeat one, feel free to reiterate something about this.
Also, do not feel hypocritical in the sense that because he fails to be everything you expect him to be that you should not express something positive. Philippians 4:8 states, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Because you focus on the positive does not mean you are sinning for taking a reprieve from the negative.
Let me tell you a secret about how male leaders effectively lead other men. These leaders zero in on the man’s deepest desires and acknowledge these. They praise the man for having these desires and making efforts to act on them. His coach, boss, or colonel do not blind themselves to his shortcomings. But they know that if they are forever wanting to talk about his inadequacies and how he has hurt them, they’ll lose this guy’s heart. So, they stay on the course of affirming these desires. When the man stumbles, they ask, “What gives here? What you have done isn’t in keeping with your good wishes or who I believe you to be. Can we take just fifteen minutes and clarify what happened here?”
Obviously, you are not a male leader of your husband’s. However, as a man can learn from his mother how to treat his new wife, you can gain tremendous insight into the male soul by considering how male leaders operate.
The challenge will be at those moments when you feel hurt and fear. Your pain and fear will compel you to want to talk to your husband about your feelings and how he makes you feel sad and insecure. You do this hoping he’ll understand what he did and then tell you of his sorrow and plan to do things differently moving forward. But this is not how he’ll interpret you and respond. Instead, he will see you coming for “The Talk” and head the other direction, which will throw you into panic and result in you feeling even more unloved. He hurt you in the first place, and now hurts you again for not wanting to hear about your hurts.
That is why I propose that you take a month to approach differently your desire for him to better hear your heart. For your husband to hear your heart, please first try “H.E.A.R.-ing” him. It will feel unromantic and unnatural. It will feel counterintuitive. But it will cause your husband to let down his guard toward you. To this point, some of you have interpreted your husband’s unwillingness to hear you as a sign he doesn’t love you. But could it be that he translates your request for him to hear you as a request for him to hear that you don’t like him or respect him? This exercise will counter his misinterpretation of you.
In Ephesians 5:33 and 1 Peter 3:1–2, God reveals that showing respect is the key to opening a husband’s heart. This is God’s command. That means respect is not some theory or formula to try out and then throw out if it doesn’t get a husband to perform. This is God’s call to a wife for a lifetime in the same way God calls a husband to love his wife. How silly for a husband to say, “I’ll try this love thing to see if my wife responds. If not, I’ll move on and try something else.”
So, why go through the trouble of a month-long process to better H.E.A.R. your husband? Too often a husband closes off to his wife not because he has no love for her but because he thinks she has no respect for him. This exercise can help him understand that she does not awaken early in the morning to storyboard ways of dissing him. As she attempts to H.E.A.R. him, he will hear her in a new way.
- In what ways have you seen your husband honoring God or desiring to honor God? Have you shared with him that you have seen this in him? If not, why not? If so, why do you think he would appreciate you bringing it up again?
- Why should we be grateful that God does not fixate on our failures but instead encourages us in our successes and in our deepest heart desires? How can we learn from this in how we encourage each other?
- Does your husband have a male mentor? If so, how can you encourage him further in that relationship? If not, how else can you encourage him as he desires to grow in certain positive attributes that he sees in others?
- Emerson wrote, “Too often a husband closes off to his wife not because he has no love for her but because he thinks she has no respect for him.” Has this happened in your marriage? What might have been said or done to lead him to believe you did not respect him in that situation? Could “H.E.A.R.-ing” him better have helped him hear your heart better?