Wednesday, January 19, 2011

“For Men Only” Part 2 - Ears To Hear

“What a shame, what folly, to give advice before listening to the facts!”  (Proverbs 18:13) NLT

My wife and I have been reading Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn’s books “For Men Only” and “For Women Only”.  In the previous post, I gave an excerpt that was very beneficial to me about providing reassurance and continuing to pursue your wife even though the wedding is over.  Today, I want to share an excerpt from “For Men Only” about listening.  Specifically, men need to learn how to do it.  I found this to be full of insight and is an example of what is found throughout the book.  I hope you enjoy!

We’ve all heard, “She doesn’t want you to fix it, she just wants you to listen.”  But even though that phrase is accurate (according to all our interviews), most guys have no idea what it means or how to do it.
I’ll explain how in a minute, but first, here’s what it means.  Three things:
She doesn’t want you to fix it = she doesn’t need you to fix it.

Incase you’re wondering, this doesn’t mean “She doesn’t need you to do anything.”  More on that later.  Instead, the key is to understand why she’s sharing something.  And it’s not—as we think—because she needs our help.
Even if a man provided a very “reasonable” solution to the problem under discussion, just 5 percent of women said that would actually solve their problem.  Add it up, guys.  95 percent of women feel that a reasonable solution would not solve their problem.

What’s more, fully 60 percent of the women felt the offered solution—no matter how reasonable--was a negative.  Some appreciated their man’s suggestion, some didn’t, but the majority felt that it detracted from the sense that he was listening and being supportive.

 “She just wants you to listen” = she wants you to focus on her feelings, not the problem.

She’s not sharing something so you can fix it; she’s sharing it so you can understand how she feels about something that is bothering her.  

Here’s the thing:  For most of our lives, we men have trained ourselves to cut through the clutter of emotion in order to focus on the “real issue.”  Instead, we need to grasp the single most important key to being a good listener:  For our wife, her negative feelings about a problem are the real issue.  In other words, the feelings are what she is trying most to share and have understood, even more than the problem itself.
“It” = an emotional problem, not a technical one

The “she doesn’t want you to fix it” mantra has confused many of us because we know some situations require a fix.  So here’s how you know the difference: If it’s an area of emotional concern, apply listening skills.  If it’s not, apply fixing skills.

Apply listening skills to areas that define a woman’s relationships, well-being, and sense of self-worth.  Home stresses, for example.  Work.  Friendships.  Conflicts.  


This simply doesn’t apply to those times when your wife tells you something is starting to howl under the gear shift in her Toyota and what should we do?  In such cases, you can safely put away your gender translation gear.
“How not to listen.”
1. tell her she’s overreacting
2. question her version of the facts
3. wonder aloud about the time of the month
4. ask her to quit crying
5. offer spiritual correction (“Are you sure you’re not just envious?”)

For you husbands out there, what can you do to apply these ideas so that it’s something that impacts your relationship and not just something interesting you read?  Odds are this is a legitimate desire of hers, and you have an opportunity to give her what she wants.  A key component in relationships is having both people give sacrificially to the other.  In the last two posts we covered pursuing and listening.  What if you put forth the effort to hit these two things out of the park?   What impact could that have on your relationship?  Give it a shot!  A better relationship can start right here with you.  All you have to do is decide and implement.

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