My biggest failing as a husband comes when my good intentions fall flat. “What do you mean you feel disrespected?” I said the other day. “You know that’s not who I am!” I hate being misunderstood, and I felt offended. So I pointed out her mistake. Instead of having a con-versation, I become con-descending. Learning how to turn “you’re wrong” into “let’s talk” always results in better communication with your wife.
Why can’t I just say “sorry” and start trying to understand her perspective? What’s wrong with a non-defensive “my bad?” Why is it so important to point out my innocence when, instead, I could use the conflict as a jumping-off point for a heart-to-heart? Don’t I know by now that the last thing any wife needs is for her husband to condescend when what’s needed is conversation? Just a little reframing can make all the difference and prevent so much unnecessary conflict. Here are 5 reasons to turn “you’re wrong” into “let’s talk.”Just a little humility will draw you closer to your spouse and facilitate mutual respect.
1. Being right is overrated and seldom turns out to be what you want.
So you proved you are right. So what? The need to be right is about one-upmanship while relationships are about doing life together. That fleeting feeling of satisfaction over scoring a point or two is going to fizzle out quickly. However, just a little humility will draw you closer to your spouse and facilitate mutual respect.
2. Compromise keeps relationships from seizing up.
The genius of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia was the willingness of delegates to compromise. Everyone had something to offer, and everyone had a lot to learn. Compromise kept the conversation alive for the four months it took to craft the historic document. Compromise will likewise keep our relationships moving forward, and retains the focus on who we are together, understanding that unity trumps being right. “Our” success then becomes the basis of agreement.
3. Conversation is better than condescension.
When we “know” we are right, it becomes very hard to sound like we value our partner’s contribution. Being condescending to our wives both puts them down and undermines our relationships. Conversation, alternatively, values the other and asks to be valued. Conversation tends to ask open-ended questions and implies we have something to learn from one another. Condescension makes it clear you have nothing to say that I value.
4. Communication might not have happened yet.
When my wife misunderstands my intentions, typically it’s less because she misjudged me and more because I failed to communicate. If I really am 100% right, then that’s not the issue. The issue is mutual respect. So the conversation becomes an opportunity for me to learn more about her perspective and to show grace.
5. You can trust her.
As men, it’s helpful to remember that we don’t know what we don’t know. When I remember that I may not have all the information, the next step, clearly, is to talk about it. When she points something out that I didn’t notice and I dismiss it, I’m saying, “I don’t trust you.” I imply that she can’t be right. Misunderstandings plus trust can be resolved. Misunderstandings without trust lead to fights.
Sound off: What are some other ways you can have a better conversation with your wife instead of being defensive or condescending?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “Do you feel like I listen to you well? If not, how can I do better?”