We have been looking at Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and specifically at how husbands can show love to their wife.  Dr. Eggerichs uses 6 basic areas to express how a husband can do this and they follow the letters C-O-U-P-L-E.  We have made it to U and this is my second post on Understanding.

I like to save money when I can and on occasion that means installing or fixing something that may be out of your comfort zone.  It used to be that your resources were to talk to somebody that has done it before or even get a book that explains the process.  I can remember my dad going into the auto parts place and hanging out in the aisle waiting for a mechanic to come through to ask about a certain problem we were having.  I can also remember going to a hardware store and try to figure out what kind of plumbing parts we needed and hoping we might run into a plumber in the process.  These days, it is much easier as there are plenty of resources online with how to guides and even YouTube videos that explain the whole thing.  A lot of the time I was out trying to “fix” a problem it was usually with my dad.  You may have a brother or a neighbor that is your “fixit” buddy.  All I know is together we can tackle about anything.  It is easier if you mess up and better when you succeed if you are able to share the experience.  When guys are around each other they tend to be conferences where problems are brought up and different solutions other guys have had are brought up.  It is kind of a sharing of experiences.

My wife can come home after a day at work and start going over a vast list of issues she may have had.  They could be problems with customers, the order missing something, issues with insurance companies, or questions where they have to contact doctor’s offices.  I know for the longest time, my engineer brain always went into overdrive trying to come up with a better way to do this or a more efficient way she could have approached that.  There was only one problem with that approach.  She already knew how to best do her job and she already knew the best way to handle the issues that often arose.  What she really needed from me was to one simple thing: Listen.  Evidently, a lot of the time a wife doesn’t need a solution as much as she needs a listening ear.

Dr. Eggerichs explains this need for a listening ear this way, “Because a woman is an integrated personality, she is like a teakettle – she collects all the things that have happened to her over the day, and there is a buildup.  She needs to release some of these feelings, and it really can’t wait until tomorrow or the next day.”

So, as men we tend to take the things that happen to us throughout the day and lay them out in different stacks on something kind of like a checkerboard.  We put some things on black squares over here and a few others on red squares on the other side.  At the end of the day we have a lot of stacks on different squares but usually none of the stacks are too high.  The next day our checkerboard may be empty again or at worst have a single item on a couple of spaces that carried over from the day before.

Women, on the other hand, take the things that happen to them and start putting checkers in one column of a Connect 4 slot.  Only one slot.  So, as each thing happens it stacks directly on top of the other.  This creates a huge feeling of pressure for your wife as each stack piles on top of the other.  By the end of the day her stacks of checkers are about to boil over the top.  Going back to Dr. Eggerichs teakettle example, your wife needs to be able to “let off steam” from the pressure that has built up during the day.  To do this, she needs to be able to report about her day and when there is a listening ear available it allows her to release the emotions that have stacked up on her.  This release feels good to your wife and helps her to feel understood.

“The wise husband is ‘quick to listen, slow to speak’” – James 1:19

A husband will tend to either have a certain feeling toward the issues he deals with daily or really have no feeling at all about them.  A wife may have a lot of feelings about the things that she feels pressure from and not be able to process and understand them until she is able to talk about them.

I know this sounds really confusing to most husbands.  Men communicate really as a way to exchange information.  We can be really rigorous in how we do this to the point of developing an agenda and following it to a tea.  So, when a wife steps into this world and wants to talk and may not have a topic, agenda, or even want your solution, it can be very disconcerting and cause all types of anxiety. Something we may impolitely call “small talk.”  This is an uncomfortable area for us.  This is where the listening ear come in.  A listening ear is her desire and the listening ear helps her build rapport with you.  She finds this makes her feel incredible and loved.  She may even like to hear a little about your day if you are up for it.