How To Get Your Wife To Shut Up
By Grant Stenzel, MS LCPC
If you are a man, this article probably has peaked your interest.
If you are a woman, you are probably looking for reasons to kill me.
But hold on, ladies. If you read the article, you will probably agree with everything I have to say here.
Many times while having a couple in my office, I have asked the husband if he would like to learn how to get his wife to shut up. Each time the wife gives me an odd look – but after explaining my theory, each wife tells her husband to listen to me.
Gentlemen: If your wife is nagging, yelling, repeating, whining, or doing any other annoying acts of communication, you are probably sick of it.
Well, they are too!
They don’t want to be doing any of these things. They feel guilty and ashamed that they do them. The problem is they feel unheard. Now, I didn’t say they were unheard. I said they feel unheard. You probably have heard them, but each time you may have said “yeah, OK Honey,” “Uh huh, yeah whatever,” or “That’s fine.” Each of these statements and others like them communicate, intended or not, that you don’t care and that you are not listening.
Other ways we can make our wives feel unheard are:
Watching TV while you are having a conversation
Rolling your eyes
Giving solutions (this seems logical, but trust me, it doesn’t work)
All of these are going to make you wife FEEL unheard; and when she feels unheard she is going to keep trying to get her message through your thick skull into she FEELS like you understand her. So the logical conclusion (I know we men all claim to be logical) is to try a different solution to the same problem. Try listening AND making her feel heard and understood.
How do I do that? Well, I am glad you asked.
First, you need to work on your non-verbal communication.
Turn off the TV, look her in the eyes, sit down with her, sit leaning forward, nod as she talks, and don’t give her your quick solution. I know we as men have good motives in this but they don’t want your quick solution. We see our wives do the same thing over and over and it keeps getting her upset. The logical solution would be to make a change to her behavior, right? Well, you have been giving her “logical solutions” and that hasn’t worked yet either, so….
Early in my marriage, my wife came home upset about her manager at work. I started into my speech about how to solve that problem that she had told me about many times before. She grabbed my hands, looked into my eyes and said “Grant, I don’t need you to solve it, I just need you to listen.” What great advice. All my “wise advice” hadn’t worked yet; so the greatest way to solve the problem was to listen to her.
Let me tell you guys, listening – real, active listening – solves the problem much faster than any quick answer you try to throw at her. I know you are scared that she is going to talk your ear off if you do this, but trust me, once she gets it out of her system she will be fine. She just wants to connect with you. It is not about the problem. It is about sharing her life with you. It is about you understanding her and being on her side. She just needs to vent and have you still love her.
Next time you are in a restaurant or other public place, watch how women talk to each other. When one gets mad, the other gets mad with her. When one is sad, the other gets sad with her. Women relate this way. They aren’t mad at you when they are yelling about the kids. They are frustrated and they want you to understand their frustration. So don’t take it personal, guys.
The other important part of active listening is giving feedback.
Truly try and understand what she is saying and feeling. It is not about just shutting up and listening, and it is not about telling her she is crazy for feeling the way she does. It is about reflecting back what you hear your wife saying. It is about explaining that you understand what emotion she is feeling. If you don’t understand how she is feeling, ask her. Trust me, she will explain it to you.
Say you come home and your wife snaps at you with a “I can’t handle these kids anymore! They are driving me nuts!” She is just asking for some understanding. Instead of saying “Well, I had a hard day too!” and probably starting a fight, try “Wow, I am sorry to hear you have had a tough day with the kids, you must be exhausted.” After she asks where you put her real husband or if you had a recent head injury, she is going to start to calm down. You are now giving her what she is looking for, understanding. All humans, even men, desire to be understood.
We often as men don’t like when people show emotions. It makes us uncomfortable so we try to give a quick solution so WE feel more comfortable. This just shuts your wife down and unintentionally communicates to your wife that you don’t care about her. Remember, just because she is raising her voice doesn’t mean she is mad at you. Stop taking everything so personally.
You can do it. You can stay engaged with your wife without running from her emotional reaction. Show her that you understand and that you care. Then, she will feel understood, calm down and go on with her life.