It's a terrible mistake to believe that a woman's emotions are a bother and a hassle instead of a treasure and a gift. Here are some secrets and tips for how to have rich and meaningful conversations with your wife.
Secret #1 - Pick a place and time that loudly tells your wife the following WITHOUT WORDS, "Let's talk," or even better, "I'm so excited that we get this special chance to talk."
First, I better clarify what I mean by "loudly saying something without words." It's the difference between...
- ...saying "I love you," to your girlfriend and saying, "I love you," as you're on your knees giving her an engagement ring.
- ...telling your wife, "of course I care about how you're feeling," (when a football game is on the TV screen) and saying, "of course I care about how you're feeling," (as you hit the OFF button on your TV remote, leave the couch and sit down with her for some coffee in the kitchen.)
Words can have or lose their punch based on what you're communicating WITHOUT words.
One time I built a campfire in the backyard as the sun was going down so my wife and I could hang out after our kids were in bed. She sat down in the lawn chair by me and talked (almost non-stop) for the next 2 hours. It was beautiful and I was thankful BUT, at the same time, I was surprised! I thought, "Why didn't she share her feelings so freely with me during one of the many times I asked her questions like, 'How was your day honey?' or 'How have you been feeling, sweetie?' Why would she only answer those questions with a few quick sentences?"
It's because the places and times I was asking those questions WERE NOT saying, "I want to hear about your feelings."
- When I'm getting home from work and we're flying around the kitchen preparing dinner and our children are at our heels, the time and place loudly says, "we're too busy to have any kind of meaningful conversation."
- After the kids are in bed and my wife knows that my favorite soccer team is going to be on TV in 10 minutes, the time and place loudly says, "even though I'm asking about how your day was, I only want to hear the short version (if anything) because what I REALLY want to do tonight is watch soccer."
If the time and place is not saying, "how are you?" then, instead of asking how she's feeling, try saying something like, "I know we're super busy with dinner preparations, but I just want to tell you that I can't wait to sit down after the kids are in bed and hear all about how you've been feeling today. You do such meaningful things for our family."
Based on Secret #1, try any of these tips:
Try the campfire idea!
Suggest a new daily routine: once the kids are in bed we meet on the couch for twenty minutes. No phones. No TV. No agenda. Just look at her eyes and talk before you move on to any other nightly activity.
Sit on the front porch with a bowl of popcorn or something fun to sip.
Secret #2 - Offer to jump first.
It's easier to jump off of a cliff if you have someone that's committed to doing it with you. It can also feel safer if someone has test-jumped ahead of you and come out okay on the other side.
Like a cliff jump, depending on what you and your wife are talking about, sometimes sharing feelings and emotions can feel risky. You might find that your wife won't really "take the dive" into honestly sharing her emotions unless she knows that you're committed to jumping with her. She also might hesitate unless you model where and how deep to jump.
I, personally, am NOT so good at sharing my emotions first (or second for that matter). Are you at all like me? Many times, when my wife asks about my workday, I have to invest sustained mental effort to start recalling what even happened during my workday. It's even harder to recall emotional responses that I had. However, when I put in the work to remember/recall/formulate my feelings, I find that my wife feels more safe and is more willing to have a meaningful conversation about something that she feels.
Based on Secret #2, try any of these tips:
Come back prepared. Within 5 minutes of returning home, tell her one thing that happened at work and how you felt about it.
Once a day, send her a text about something you feel as soon as you feel it. (Even if it's that you're in the backyard mad at the broken lawnmower, or the reason why you just rolled your eyes at a co-worker.)
Say this: "Honey, I'm about to ask you about how YOU'RE doing today but I just have to say _______ (and then give a 2-4 minute story of something that happened in your day and how you felt.)" Then sit down, look at her in the eyes and say, "enough about me...how are YOU feeling today?"
Secret #3 - Be an egg carton for her.
Left out in the open, an egg won't last long before being cracked or broken. But in the carton, there's protection.
Have you noticed that this world isn't a very safe place for a woman's feelings? Every time a dad, brother or acquaintance says or implies, "stop crying," or "why are women so emotional?" or "women are so dramatic," it's both hurtful and wrong. Your wife needs you to protect her emotions by...
- ...often saying something like, "I like it when you tell me how you feel," after she shares.
- ...saying, "I'm attracted to you when you share your emotions like that. It's very beautiful."
- ...NEVER rolling your eyes or making fun of her when she gets emotional.
- ...setting things down and changing your agenda/schedule when she starts opening up about something she's feeling.
- ...publicly disagreeing with another man that says something like, "all women ______," or "I don't understand why my wife always ______." If you don't know how to disagree, at least say, "I don't feel the same way you do."