Helping Her Grow Up – The Talk

August 6, 2013

in Be a grownup, Change, Communication, Series

If you want your wife to change, anything from an annoyance to a big obvious sin, the first step is to talk to her about the issue. How you talk to her matters; doing it wrong can result in things getting worse.

None of us likes being told we are wrong, even when we know we are wrong. Additionally, most people don’t take correction well. We know these things, and it can make us feel uptight, which makes us more likely to approach our spouse in a wrong way. A few of the more common errors, followed by a better way.

Act NOW! © Stuart Miles | freedigitalphotos.net

Bad Timing

The world’s most eloquent argument will be ignored if you choose a bad time to deliver it. Bad timing means she won’t even hear what you say, much less consider it. You want to pick a good time for her, not a good time for you. A few things to consider:

  • Make sure she’s not hungry. An hour after a meal or snack is excellent.
  • Don’t do it when she’s tried.
  • Don’t start a conversation if there’s not enough time to say what needs to be said, hear her reply, and respond to what she says.
  • Try to avoid times when she’s stressed or has had a bad day. (If she is always stressed or having a bad day, maybe you should address first.)
  • Is it a bad time of the month? Her hormones really do affect her. Some women are more influenced by their cycle than others, and some deal with it better, but any woman who is still cycling is impacted.

None of these things excuses her for not listening, but if you want results be wise and give your plea the best chance by timing it well.

Communication Style

The words you use, your volume, and how you use sarcasm and humour all change how she hears what you say. Every woman is different about this – one woman is fine with full on yelling, while another panics at even a slight raise of volume. Many women have a problem with sarcasm, and some find humour unacceptable in a serious conversation. Know your wife, and choose your words, tone, and volume well.

Over Kill

It is tempting to try to “win” by providing overwhelming evidence. Come up with every possible reason why she is wrong and what you want is right and she will have to succumb to your logic, right? It may sound good, but it does not work. First, this seems like you are trying to beat her into the ground, which will cause her to resist. Second, if she can find what she thinks is a flaw with any one of your arguments, she may use that as a way of dismissing everything you have said.

Expecting Her to Admit She is Wrong Right Now

It would be nice if you said your bit, she thought a moment, and said, “You’re right, I’m sorry, I will change.” Yes, that does happen sometimes with some women, but it’s not the norm. Most of us need time to process, time to admit to ourselves we are wrong, and then more time to admit to others we are wrong. Pushing her to admit her faults right now is usually justified by talking about truth or right and wrong. In reality, it usually is about the insecurity, fear, or immaturity of the one who is pushing.

Falling into Arguing

If the situation is clear, arguing accomplishes nothing. Arguing elevates emotions, blocks reason, and distracts from the real issue. She may use arguing as a defence mechanism, or it may just be habit. You can cut her short by refusing to argue. Tell her you have said what you needed to say and leave it at that.

Avoiding Your Feelings

I am not saying things like God’s word, truth, and facts are irrelevant to your wife, but as a woman feelings are significant to her. Adding your feelings to the mix will speak to her in the way she thinks, which can only help your case. Besides, she likely knows when she is sinning, and yet she’s still doing it. If, for example, she’s having an affair, telling her she is sinning is not telling her anything new. Telling her how it hurts you is adding new information in the form of feelings, which matter to her.

Adding it all Together

Find a good time to talk. Be calm, and use words, tone, and volume that won’t agitate her. Have a very few examples, reasons, or truths, and be sure to include your feelings if possible. Say your bit, reply to any questions (as opposed to arguments), and keep the whole discussion short. Don’t expect her to agree or to process on the spot. Telling her you understand she needs time to think about what you have said signals to her she’s not required to make a decision right then.

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Apparently this series has been mentioned somewhere, and it is attracting trolls. I am leaving anything that is not really ugly, but I reserve the right to ignore comments that seem trollish, and I suggest others do the same.

22 comments
shaynanigans3
shaynanigans3

This post might be the most offensive and disgusting thing I've ever read. 


"Is it that time of the month? Her hormones really do affect her." Are you insane? On what planet do you have any creditably to comment on such a thing.  


If your wife is doing something that you find offensive, or annoying, or even sinful, you talk to her to let her know why it affects you, then you leave it to her to decide what she wants to do with it. You don't take it upon yourself to make her "grow up" or "change". (That is just degrading in and of itself.)


As a Christian woman, we are taught that our husbands should love us as Christ loves us. And it is stated more times than I can count that Christ loves us exactly how we are. The fact that you have taken to writing a post actually encouraging other men and giving them advice on how to "change your wife" is ridiculous. You should be ashamed of yourself for the filth that you are putting out there and claiming in under my loving and caring God. 


hiswifeagain
hiswifeagain

Paul, I think this is a helpful article for helping husbands.  I do however feel a wee bit offended with the title. It implies she is immature and that's why he need to correct her.  All people sin and hurt their spouses regardless of their level of maturity.  I understand that this was aimed at men, but I think most people would be offended by the suggestion that they are immature.  Perhaps a better title would have been Helping Her Grow Spiritually.  A husband's job is to lead his wife in spiritual growth, but "growing up is for children".  As I know you are aware, wives are spiritual equals, not children.  The title might tend to send the subtle message to husbands that his wife "just needs to grow up" rather than she needs to grow in her faith.    I appreciate the article and have forwarded to my husband.  Thanks,

Elizabeth_Table for Five
Elizabeth_Table for Five

I understand what you were trying to say in this, but I think the irony is, women are going to read it and take it completely the wrong way. It might be helpful if you followed up with a more personal post about what communication issues you and your wife have encountered and how you work to overcome them. 

This post comes off as basically saying that communication in marriage depends on how emotional the wife is and how carefully the husband times his approach. What about your needs regarding discussing of issues? What do you need her to do for you to have the conversation be successful?

I think you have a good starting point for a series of posts, but please remember that not all women are impossible to talk to unless their husband has done everything on your list. I'd also urge you to think about why you consider figuring out how best to communicate with your wife is helping her 'grow up'. If she's immature, that's a completely different issue.

werdnamiths
werdnamiths

The fact that you used "God" in this totally discredits you.

ericatoyama
ericatoyama

I used to be a hormonal, stressed out woman, but after my frontal lobotomy, I've come to realize my husband's words are the words of God. To respect him, is to respect Him.

Reinventedbyme
Reinventedbyme

Have you ever thought that maybe if your wife is stressed and having a bad day all the time you might just need to be introspective for a moment and look at your own actions? I do believe that there are right and wrong times to address issues. Everyone has issues and bad days, but this post doesn't seem to address them in a healthy way. It is as if you are likening your wife to a child. If she acts like a child that is one issue, but how you come off suggests that there is a greater control issue that you should look at fixing within yourself then trying to change your wife. 

lucasd123d
lucasd123d

I am pretty sure you are mental. 

jcwg
jcwg

Just curious - do these tips apply to lesbian couples?

swags
swags

Choke on a communion wafer

Rock_His_World
Rock_His_World

Good post.  From my experience I find that my tone says more to my wife than anything.  She hates me repeating myself, hates me piling on.  I normally have to talk to her a couple of times before we really are able to work on it.

TheGenerousHusband
TheGenerousHusband moderator

@shaynanigans3  You think Christ never urged the disciples to grow up? I would disagree. Seems "God and sin no more" is expecting some growth, is it not?


As to a woman's cycle affecting her, there is plenty of hard science to back that up. I think men need to understand that, and make allowances for it. I see that as loving. 

hiswifeagain
hiswifeagain

@shaynanigans3  


God doesn't love us just the way we are.  He loves us where we're at.  Not the same thing at all.  He loves us too much to let us stay the way we are.  The way we are is prideful, selfish and rebellious until we come under His authority. He wants to conform us into the image of His Son.  That requires correction.  Sometimes that correction comes through our husbands.  What Paul was talking about was growing spiritually.  He used some unfortunate language in wording this, but his advice is sound.  


It takes some maturity to recognize those is authority over us and sometimes they will be wrong, but that doesn't change what the bible says about it.  


I understand your initial outrage, but I would challenge you to read this again with the understanding that we are all commanded to grow spiritually.


But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.   2 Peter 3:18


Blessings,

HWA

TheGenerousHusband
TheGenerousHusband moderator

@hiswifeagain Sorry to offend. Lori and I talk about growing up all the time, and we each talk about our need to grow up. One of the common tags I use is "Be a Grownup" and 90% of the time it is aimed at the guys.

TheGenerousHusband
TheGenerousHusband moderator

@Reinventedbyme In answer to the first question, yes. I've posted on this several times. I've also suggested if he is not the cause, he can still help her make changes that will change things.

I assume you are a new reader, because I tell men to look at themselves first 95% of the time. I also started this series with the need to do that very thing.

dcmama
dcmama

@swagsare you just saying that because you're hungry? Just go eat a wafer yourself and then come back in an hour, and comment in a more calmly manner.

shaynanigans3
shaynanigans3

@TheGenerousHusband Just because you think that "men need to understand that" does not give you the right to consider it in an argument. I don't know about the women that you know, but if my husband came to me with a legitimate concern about my behavior, it wouldn't matter whether or not it was "that time of the month" or if I were hungry, or tired, etc. Because women are so overruled by their erratic emotions and love of food that we could not POSSIBLY be expected to maintain an intelligent conversation while there are things like naps and chocolate to be worried about, right? 
I love my husband and would be happy to discuss anything that he had concerns about. How would you feel if your wife based whether or not she talked to you on the notion that you are driven by your manly rage and inherent need to control things? Because that is the stereotype for men. 
The issue overall lies in the fact that you are not encouraging the Christian men of this world to bring to light issues that are of importance to discuss. I agree with you that we are commanded to grow spiritually, but you are NOT the person that is going to do that for your wife. You are taking it upon yourself to try to "change" a woman's (specifically your wife's) behavior, when it is not your place to do so. The only entity that has the power to do that is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. CHRIST urged his disciples to promote growth, but you sir, are not Christ. Your responsibility is to bring it to light, and allow her to make the loving and Christian gesture of changing IF SHE SO CHOOSES. (Which if she is the Christian woman that I am assuming she is, she will do so happily and with gladness)
Next time you write an antiquated blog post representing the God that I know and love, you might be a bit more considerate when implying that women are simply children to be taught by their husbands. It sounds to me like she's not the one that needs to grow up and get back into the Word. 

hiswifeagain
hiswifeagain

Paul, not sure an apology is needed.  It may just be me. I hear a huge difference between "you need to grow" and "you need to grow up".  I have usually heard and used that phrase with smug, superiority.  It sounds like you and Lori hear something different in it.  Hopefully more people hear it the way you do because you have some really good ideas with this series.  I'm glad I decided to finish it anyway. 

swags
swags

@dcmama @swags Uh oh, is that sarcasm? I am extremely sensitive to sarcasm.  Also bad timing, hunger, fatigue, stress, hormones, words, humor, tone, and volume.  Give me some tylenol and put me in a dimmed room and I may find myself more receptive to your corrections of my "big obvious sins"

TheGenerousHusband
TheGenerousHusband moderator

@shaynanigans3 @TheGenerousHusband  You seem to see this as an attack on women. It is not. I recently said something very similar to women about their husbands. See the last section of http://bit.ly/1fX5yUC

All of us, male and female, are “ruled” to some extent by things like hunger and hormones. Failure to understand and allow for that seems unloving and wrong to me. Picking a good time to discuss something is both loving and wise. I would feel loved and blessed if my wife considered these things when needing to discuss something with me.

Additionally, I very much want my wife to point out place where I am wrong or need to grow. She is one of several people I have encouraged to do this for me. As I see it, we are supposed to do this for one another. We do not fix others or make them grow up, but we should lovingly help them see where they need it. There are a number of places in the New Testament that tell us to do this.

TheGenerousHusband
TheGenerousHusband moderator

@hiswifeagain Thanks for the follow up. I am sure others have heard it as you did, and I will address that in the future.

Blessings,

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