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How You Can Open Up the Floor Plan in Your Marriage
Learning How to Communicate with Your Spouse
One excellent thing you can do to a fixer upper house is to create new open spaces by tearing down walls and expanding living spaces. For example, instead of having a living room, dining room, and breakfast room, you could open up one large living area. Even opening up the kitchen can do amazing things to a home, because while working in the kitchen, you could still be a part of conversations in the living area of the house. Moreover, your marriage needs better open living spaces to foster better communication. Today we will learn a few ways to create some of those living spaces in your marriage.
Realize How God Made Man and Woman Different
Genesis 2: 15 & 20-25
The do-it-yourself man
When God created man, notice that one of the first things He did was to give him a job, to dress and keep the Garden of Eden. Every day, Adam had a job to do because he was a gardener by trade. This is what Adam did, and he was competent as well as knowledgeable about it. He needed no instruction manual because he was the ultimate and first do-it-yourself man. So this is where it all began, and why men desire to be needed, competent, knowledgeable, and an expert at something. God created the creature of man with an innate desire to solve problems and fix things.
As a child, I vividly recall my mother complaining that dad refused to stop for directions. He would attempt to find his way on his own even if it meant it took us longer to get to our destination. This was the DIY spirit of man at its most obvious. He loved his family, and it was his job to get us to our destination safely. He wanted to do it himself because he needed to feel competent and needed. He wanted to be important to his family. By giving up easily, it would be like admitting that he could not do his job as husband and dad by getting us where we needed to be.
Furthermore, men need the feeling of being an expert at something. The thought process goes like this, “this is what I do, this is what I am good at, and when I need help I will ask for it.” For example, since I work at the Post Office, I am an expert at shipping things, I can give you all sorts of shipping advice and even explain the entire process of how mail moves through our network. However, when my central air went out, I called my friend, Patrick, who is an expert at heating and air. As a man, I value other experts. This is the spirit of the DIY man.
The in-touch woman
Conversely, when God created a woman, he gave her a relationship instead of a job. It only took God a short dependent clause to describe Adam’s job, but it took Him five verses to describe Eve’s role. This was complete with background and details! God has a great sense of humor as can be seen in this irony! The details would define who she was and what she was about.
Eve could have kept the garden, but God gave that job to Adam. Instead, God gave her a relationship with her husband. There was not a creature that was suited to help Adam and there was not a creature available to mate with Adam. So God made a new creature to fill this role. Adam called her woman and later Eve since she would become the mother of all living (see Genesis 3:20).
Therefore women are intuitively about relationships because God made them that way. They are experts in relationships instead of jobs or tasks. It is all about how they feel, and how they can sympathize with each other or feeling sympathized with. From this world view, life is like a story with lots of background and emotional details. Whereas a man needs to do things to demonstrate his love and importance, women need to talk to demonstrate their love and acceptance. She is the in-touch woman.
The love connection
In His divine wisdom and His creative personality, God put a powerful spark of love between man and woman. A fascinated Adam looked into the eyes of his Eve and saw a relationship he was desperately longing for. Then an admiring Eve looked back into the eyes of her Adam and saw a strength and protector that she hopelessly fell for. The differences that draw us into a romantic relationship are the same differences that can cause conflict in marriage.
In fully accepting and realizing these differences you can open up some new living spaces in your marriage. If you can understand and appreciate those differences, you can learn new and better ways to communicate with your spouse. It is in this newfound communication that you can strengthen the spark of love between you.
Learn How to Talk to Your Man
Having established the innate differences between men and women, it becomes imperative to learn how to talk to each other. Talking to each other can completely change the way your marriage works. By learning to express your wants and expectations for your relationship you can expand the living area in your fixer upper.
Don’t give your husband unsolicited advice
Women get together and talk about how they feel and even how they feel about how they feel. Everything that happens to them is somehow connected with how they feel. It is therefore in their intuitive nature to loving give advice about these feelings. Advice is a way to improve your life and make you feel better.
Men, however, have a completely different point of view. How they feel is directly related to their competence and importance. They long to feel needed and useful. Giving them advice is like questioning their meaning and purpose. To him, It feels like you are trying to change him or tell him what to do. Even though you may be meaning to constructively help, trust me, it will not be felt that way to your man. The bottom line is, if a man needs help, he will ask for it.
Unsolicited advice is the worst thing you can give to the DIY man. He will interpret this as an insult to his competence. If he doesn’t want to stop and ask directions, just trust him and give him some time to figure it out. He will love you and appreciate you to no end for trusting and believing in his ability, even if he finally has to stop and ask for directions!
Sometimes when dealing with a man, it is best not to say anything at and let your DIY man do what he does best- fix things. If you learn to respect him in this way, he will give his world and life to you. His need is to feel needed, so let him feel that way.
Wait for your husband’s attention
Whereas women deal with stress by talking about it, men deal with stress by temporarily disconnecting from it. Men express their usefulness by solving problems and fixing things, so the point of stress for men are problems that they cannot solve or fix. By completely disconnecting from those problems and immersing themselves into other problems they can solve or fix, especially without direct involvement, they are able to de-stress and then reenter the real world again.
A man may immerse himself temporarily in his favorite sports team. In this context he will take the games personally and speculate on fixing his team. I do this often with my favorite sports team, as I dissect the coach’s decisions, the play calling, and even the overall direction of the team. I also do this with politics, I can tell Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro exactly how to fix the current economic crisis in his country! If only he would listen! By temporarily disconnecting myself and solving other problems, I am then able to return to reality and face real life again. Men do this through hobbies, sports, and even the news.
It is important to understand that men meet a need for fixing things and de-stressing in this way. It is not that they don’t care about you, or are intentionally ignoring you, they are escaping for a time in order to reconnect later. If you allow them a little time to disconnect in this way, they can later refocus their full attention later. When a man is escaping in this way he may try to listen to you, but he cannot give you 100 percent of his attention until he returns. He may say he is listening, but he may only be giving you 5 percent of his listening. This is one reason that husbands sometimes don’t remember conversations. My point is, by allowing him a little time to decompress, you allow him to fully engage with you afterward.
Also, make sure you have your man’s full attention before you begin a serious conversation with him. He may be somewhere else at the time, fixing problems that have no real consequences to him. Wait for his attention. Also, consider giving him the main point first, then fill in the details. Women love to give the backstory first and build to the main point. Men are more direct and would rather fill in the details after they know what the conversation is about.
Respect your husband’s feelings
Ironically, men are incredibly sensitive to how they feel even when they don’t realize it. As we discussed earlier, men like to have a feeling of being an expert at something. They also like being autonomous, this is the DIY aspect of manhood. If they feel you are criticizing, correcting, or trying to change them, it damages their DIY feelings. Over time, this can drive your husband away from you.
He doesn’t need you to tell him what to do, he needs you to accept and respect the man he is. This is the number 1 universal complaint of husbands, that their woman tells them what to do! Maybe, the reason he is so disconnected all the time is that he does not know how to handle the way that you make him feel. He will immerse himself in something or someone else that makes him feel needed, important, and skilled. Also, he may try to escape because he does not know how to fix the problems that you are causing him, so he will find the pleasure and rewards of fixing other things through work or hobbies.
Learn How to Listen to Your Woman
You don’t have to fix your wife
Women de-stress by talking about their problems and how those problems make her feel. Your wife does not need you to fix those problems, just to listen to her talk about them. This is incredibly hard for a man who is a natural-born fixer to do. It becomes stressful for a man to listen to a woman when he does not understand this. He will either see it as personal criticism about him or as some problem that he needs or cannot solve.
Understand, that there is nothing for you to fix or do. Just stop and listen to what your wife is saying about how she feels. It is really not about the problems at all, but about how those problems make her feel. Therefore, it is important to your marriage that you practice listening to your wife without offering ways to fix the problems- remember it is about how she feels. The conversation is not about facts and solutions, but about feelings! Believe it or not, it is stress-relieving for your wife to talk about her problems! Men naturally stop talking and escape to deal with stress, which is the exact opposite of what they should do when dealing with their wives.
Your wife needs your FULL attention
It is OK to escape to your man cave, your hobbies, or the news. However, you have to come back to real life and give your full attention to your wife. This is what she longs for, this is what she needs, and this is what you must give her in order to make your marriage what it should be, also to make it what you want it to be.
She doesn’t just want 5 percent of you or even 95 percent of you. She needs all of you to pay attention and listen to what she has to say about how she feels. This is the number 1 complaint of wives everywhere, that there their husband just doesn’t listen to them! You can change by learning to listen to your wife without trying to offer solutions or multitasking. Newsflash- men are not good at multitasking!
Listen with Empathy
Having established that your wife doesn’t need you to fix the problems she is talking about and that she needs your full attention, we now can turn to the bottom line of listening to a woman. All she wants from you is for you to validate the way that she is feeling! Listen to her with empathy and actual care for what she is going through. Listen to her with genuine concern, then hold her in your arms. Comfort her for the way she must be feeling about her problems. In listening with empathy you bind your love and relationship in an unbreakable way.
By listening and understanding each other, you can divorce proof your marriage.
This how you learn to talk to your spouse, and how you can open the floor plan in your marriage.
- Realize how God made man and woman different
- Learn how to talk to your man
- Learn how to listen to your woman