In their 2006 research, leading sociologists W. Bradford Wilcox and Steven Nock published a paper called, What Makes a Married Woman Happy? According to their findings, the top predictor of woman’s marital happiness was: Her husband’s emotional engagement.
While you may be saying to yourself, ‘yeah, yeah, that makes sense’ – the real question we should be asking ourselves is – “how would my wife define emotional engagement”? Does it mean asking her about her day, as you scurry off to the television, or sitting alone together talking for hours about seemingly random and unsolvable things – or is it something in between?
Here’s a novel idea. Why not muster the courage to read her the quote above, and ask her what she thinks about it, and how she would define it? If by chance, she doesn’t relate to it at all – ask her what she would say makes her happiest as a married woman. This is not a time to get defensive or start justifying your actions, just ask, and listen intently to her answer. What she will say will most likely come straight from her heart and give you great insight into her soul.
Husbands are really not used to connecting on an emotional level. Women come by it naturally and are, by design, much better relationally. Becoming a husband who is more emotionally connected to your wife will take some deliberateness. This is a learned behavior. It took a while to learn golf, or hunting or fishing. It will take time to learn connecting. The most crucial piece of the puzzle is to fight against our natural propensity to want to “land the plane” and “fix this problem”.
We have all heard we are to listen and not try to fix things. That is easier said than done isn’t it? We need to learn how to listen to the emotions behind what she is saying. Look beyond the facts of the story, and ask God to help you connect with her emotions and feelings about what is going on.
Here are some additional tips from husbands I have read and/or spoken with:
- turn off all distractions (cell phone, tv)
- look into her eyes
- be truly interested in what she is saying (it is important to her)
- become engaged by asking questions – “how did that make you feel”, or “what do you think”, or “I bet that made you feel ___________”.
- offer encouragement, support, and help. A hug is often very much appreciated.
- the best response of all – is to offer to pray with her about it.
I Peter 3: 7– Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
I Peter 3:8 – Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
God is very serious about a husband treating His little girl properly. We should become very deliberate about becoming more emotionally connected.
All Jesus asks of us as husbands and wives – is to treat each other the same way He treats us.