One Great Marriage Trick

Marriage is full of compromise. Or at least, it should be. And if anything has taught me how to phrase, re-phrase, pause, evaluate, and listen before speaking, it’s marriage.

It might be easy to assume that I speak to my husband in much the same way that I write on this blog–with passion, spunk, a bit of edge, and a whole lot of Truth. While I’d like to say that’s the case, it isn’t always. Sure, my husband gets large doses of my sass (which he likes by the way),  and Truth (which he always receives with humility). Yet, when it comes to bringing up an uncomfortable subject, I have learned that nothing helps your man feel more like a man, than a whole lot of respect.

Of course, I didn’t always know this. I mean, I knew it intellectually. “Husbands need respect. Yadda, yadda, yadda,” but that doesn’t mean I felt convicted about this Biblical command to wives. But after putting my foot in my mouth too many times to count, I learned a very simple trick for bringing up something unpleasant to my husband without making him feel threatened or defensive.

I call it the “One for the Money” trick and it’s a good one…

Since we know that our husbands crave respect . We also know that showing them respect becomes critical in the ways we approach them about certain subjects. Married life can rapidly produce a laundry list of complaints, ranging from money issues, to work hours, emotional security to feelings of neglect.

The ideal scenario is us as wives, being able to bring up our concerns to our husbands in a loving and respectful way…and have them respond in the same manner. Now, we can’t control how our men will respond, but we sure can make sure we are doing our part to raise issues in a healthy and productive manner.

So that’s where the “One for Your Money” trick comes in. Although, the word trick implies we are doing something sneaky. I suppose it’s a bit sneaky, but really it’s just smart. Here’s how it works:

For every negative suggestion you desire to communicate to your husband, you must first preface with one positive affirmation. For example, if I want to tell Jonathan that he has been a bit distracted when he comes home from work as of late, I’m not going to just blurt out “hey, where has your brain been? I feel like you’re not here.” Talk about a quick way to shut him down and disrespect him.

Instead, I’ll freely offer up one encouragement to him in an area I have seen him do well and then follow that encouragement with a gentle and loving suggestion or question. It would sound more like this:

“Babe, I just wanted to tell you thanks for all your help in the mornings with the kids lately. I so appreciate it. I was noticing too though, that when you come home you’ve seemed a little more tired and distracted lately. How can I help you unwind when you walk in the door?”

Asking them questions about what we can do to help, often helps deflect any potential defensiveness and allows them to see our genuine concern. You give one encouragement and that affords you an opportunity to give one suggestion. It’s practical, straightforward, and works like a charm.

Sneaky? Maybe.

Helpful? Absolutely.

One for the money…

Do you like my trick? Do you have any marriage “tricks” of your own? How do you tend to discuss more difficult or uncomfortable topics within marriage?

9 thoughts on “One Great Marriage Trick”

  1. I heard about this technique in a conference for teaching med students. You say something nice before and after offering criticism. (Apparently, the experts in medical education were finding that med students do not learn as well when they’re being yelled at.)

    It was called it a “praise sandwich.”

    1. My mom always said the same thing, especially when caddy and mean girls at school were not being particularly kind to me.

      What’s that other expression….kill ’em with kindness. Kind of the same idea.

  2. I really like the idea of being helpful toward a solution, rather than focusing on the part that is bothersome. It’s humbling and courageous to ask how we can help, especially when our complaints seem valid. I also appreciate the acknowledgement when I’m doing well, but putting them together as a strategy hasn’t been effective for us. Instead, we simply confess what seems to be bothersome and ask eachother if “we crazy”.. :)

  3. Well I am not married but I think the easiest thing to do is just ask a guy which is the best time of day/way to communicate about the things that need to be ironed out. Usually I signpost this with a bit of a warning, like I really need to be honest ……. or whatever he understands as …I am about to say something important and it would go quicker if you would listen. I find this way men usually get that your really don’t want to go on forever and like them you are keen to nip this in the bud. Don’t wantever you do this in front of a load of people, even if your really a direct woman like myself he still might be a little offended.

  4. Nicely said, Nicole.

    Men deal and interact in respect with one another. It’s how we are wired. Men do not understand when a woman asks them how they “feel”. We are thinkers, not feelers. To speak directly to a man’s spirit and his psyche, a woman needs to start at the platform of respect.

    Men are commanded to love their wives and wives are commanded to respect their husbands. Exactly. Men struggle with love and women struggle with respect, since, as alluded to before, it is how we are wired.

    The Spirit Himself is the way a man learns to grasp the meaning of Love, thereby enabling him to embrace the femininity of The Spirit. Likewise, a woman learns to grasp and understand respect from the same Spirit, and in doing so embraces the masculine side of The Spirit. So The Spirit helps us become better men and women in Christ by showing us how He made both men and women in His image, and we need one another.

    1. Donald,
      So well said. And I know a few people who would have a tizzy at this portion: “Likewise, a woman learns to grasp and understand respect from the same Spirit, and in doing so embraces the masculine side of The Spirit.”

      But I happen to agree and I think it is spiritual wisdom.

      1. Sistah,

        God created us in His image, both male and female. He understands us oh so well, since He designed us this way. Yes, a tizzy-inducing statement (He’s saying God is a woman!! God is a man, a man I say!), but wisdom says otherwise.

        Thanks, Nicole.

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