There is something right now that you should ask your wife, but for a number of reasons, you’re afraid to do so. I think the more afraid you are of asking, the more important it is that you ask. What prevents us from having communication with our wives that is deep and meaningful?

Communicating with our wives is an interesting exercise. On a daily basis we converse about the routines of life. What to get at the market. Who is picking up who. Sometimes in the commotion of life, we can forget about the deep and meaningful communication we should be having. The conversations that will strengthen our marriages, grow them, and help us to have a deeper appreciation for the other. What are the benefits of these conversations, and how do we have them?

Things Happened Today

We do this all the time in our house. It’s sort of the “welcome home” greeting. We even ask the kids how there day was at school. We care about you and what happens to you. I know my wife likes to decompress this way. Putting our day into words can help us make sense of what happened.

This can be a very safe place to be emotionally. This is usually routine conversation. We rarely become emotionally vulnerable talking about our day. These conversations aren’t bad, but if this is the only level of communication we practice, then we’re missing out on deeper conversations and deeper connections. We stay here because it’s comfortable, but I married my wife to have a best friend, not a business partner.

Husbands, Wives, and Deep Connection

Having deep conversations can be emotionally exhausting, so we don’t want to be here all the time. This reminds me of an unhealthy relationship where every single conversation is emotional and potentially relationship ending. That’s not healthy.

But it is healthy to move past the surface and talk about how we’re feeling. This is a harder place to be. It means moving beyond sharing our lives like it were a documentary, and sharing our story and how we feel. When we start to reflect on our emotional state and reveal deeper parts of ourselves, we are making ourselves vulnerable. Through this vulnerability we can allow our relationships to go deeper. We start to understand each other, support each other, and grow our love for each other.

Why is it Hard to Open Up?

If there are obvious benefits to emotionally vulnerable conversation, why do some of us have such a hard time going there?

When we open up and share with our significant other, we’re putting ourselves at their mercy. If your wife shares how something at work really hurt her and the emotions she is dealing with, your response is important. If you’re supportive, understanding, and empathetic, it can be a positive experience. It can reassure her that she is loved, and if she wants it, you can help her process why she feels the way that she does.

But if you meet her with judgement, or rush her along like you have better things to do, then it can be a negative experience. Now, instead of drawing you closer together, it can actually push your farther apart. The next time she has something weighing on her mind, she might decide to keep it there instead of confide in you.

For a lot of men, we don’t wear our emotions on our sleeves. They can tend to stay up in our brains, and we try and process them alone, or let them fester until they manifest themselves in unhealthy ways. Rarely do I get home and want to talk about how I’m feeling, or process any emotions out loud. If you’re like me, this means you will have to consciously make opportunities to go deeper.

Taking Purposeful Action to Go Deeper

The other week I thought to myself, what is the question that I am most afraid to ask my wife? Stop and ask yourself, what it is the single thing you are most afraid to have your wife answer? That fear means you are afraid of the response, and it might be preventing you from developing a deeper relationship with your wife.

Putting words into action, I did it. I had a question on my mind that I was absolutely afraid to ask, because I knew it might not give me an answer I wanted to hear. My question?  Copy and pasted directly from the email I sent her, here it is.

Do you feel like the workload at home is split evenly? Or do you feel you do too much? And if so, what do you want help with that you aren’t getting right now?

I was afraid of asking her this, because I knew the answer might not be positive. That she might say “no,” I don’t do enough around the house. That I’m not pulling my weight. If I’m honest with myself, I feel that I could do more, but I didn’t want to see her actually express that! Here’s some of her response (with her permission of course).

Overall I do feel like the workload at home is pretty even.  At times, I admit that I get overwhelmed and feel like I am doing more than half, but when I sit down and examine more closely, you DO do a lot for us…I think it’s easy to just “see” what we do ourselves (ignoring the other person’s jobs) and thus not appreciate what or how much, the other one actually does.

And that started a conversation we otherwise would not have had. In her email she listed some of the stuff I do around the house, but more important than weighing who does what, it helped us open up to each other. It helped us think about what the other does that we don’t always think about. It helped us appreciate each other. When she said she feels overwhelmed sometimes…that’s the part I didn’t want to hear, because I knew it was true. She was very gracious, but I know I can help out more. And I love that this conversation is now a safe topic for us to talk about and be open with each other.

I Challenge You

This week, ask your wife the question that you’re afraid to know the answer to. It can be scary, but the fact that you’re coming to your wife, vulnerable, and interested in what she thinks is a great gesture.

Don’t settle for acquaintance level conversations. It might not be comfortable, in fact, it might be downright difficult, but deep communication is vital to a long and fulfilling relationship. It’s something we need to practice, and the sooner we begin, the sooner we can reap the benefits.

If you’re feeling brave…what question are you going to ask? And if you’re even braver…what was her response?

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Nathan Charlton
A husband and father of three, he is first and foremost a Christian, but will openly admit he doesn't have everything figured out. His passions include writing, spending time with his family, and any game by Blizzard.

7 COMMENTS

  1. This would be my question…

    If children learn more from our actions than our instructions, then what negative behaviors do we need to eliminate in our lives so we do not see them adopted by our son.

    If I am ever brave enough to ask, I will (With her permisson) share her answers.

    • That’s a good one. Phones and how much we’re on them had crossed my mind, but your question is broader. Is good. And I really like the idea of asking, because it’s so inviting. You’re not telling her what you should do, but you’re opening yourself up and saying “OK Wife, can we be better at this thing?” Hopefully not many wives would be offended by that idea. Thanks for sharing Jack.

      • No, thank you for getting me thinking.

        The first thing I know I need to do is stop drinking in front of my son. Whatever we do and view as acceptable for us, will most likely be taken to a higher level by our children, at a time they are least likely to be able to handle the consequences.

        Even if I never muster the courage to ask my wife, you made me ask myself and turn to prayer for some answers.

        • Asking ourselves questions and pondering what we can improve is great. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut, where we do the same thing day in and day out, and we’re not growing. First step probably has to do with humbling ourselves, realizing we’re not that great, and not being afraid to admit we need help. I know I do.

  2. Subtopic: I would say don’t rely on digital communication for these questions or other deeper level conversations. Eye contact, tone and body language are huge in communication. My wife doesn’t do phone calls or texting with any kind of enjoyment or enthusiasm. I’ll even say she strongly dislikes phones in general. I rely on texting in my daily schedule, but when I text with her, I often feel way down on her priority list, based on her short responses or lack of.

    Like cyber bullies find safety and a different persona for themselves behind a computer screen, There’s also a difference in how we communicate with loved ones digitally, especially on deep concerns. It’s a bit of the false sense of security in being an observer to a conversation and not a fully invested participant in the subject. All of that to say, in our digital world, we should still sit across the kitchen table and talk… and SEE each other when we need to get below the surface. That’s my 2 cents of experience anyway.

    • That’s so interesting, because I have almost the opposite experience. My wife doesn’t communicate as well when she’s put on the spot. Email lets her have time to think, collect her thoughts, and be deliberate in what she says. So in a way, I got a better answer than if I had just sprung a question on her.

      Face to face is definitely important though. We talked face to face after the email. I guess another way to do it would be to ask the question, give people time to think about it, and then talk about it later.

      So I guess however you do it, you need to communicate!

      • I can see the value of both approaches. I guess we have to measure what works in our relationships. In either case, multiple visits to the same conversation is probably good, in some combination of face-to-face and “other.” That allows for the collected and articulated thoughts to come about.

        Between my first reply and now, I had to text my wife to say “Let’s just talk about it [scheduling issues] when we get home.” Digital comm doesn’t work well in our particular relationship.

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