Marriage

How to Respond to your Wife’s Complaints

Each spouse should focus on what applies to him/her rather than focus on the responsibilities of the other

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Below are common complaints that husbands and wives have towards each other. Understanding both sides of the coin helps the husband know how to help his wife when she puts forward one of these complaints, and how to help himself when he feels complaints against his wife.

However, each spouse should focus on what applies to him/her rather than focus on the responsibilities of the other.

With that in mind, I will attempt to offer practical solutions to the husband for how to properly respond to the complaints his wife has about his behavior.

“MY EARS HAVE HEARD”

First of all, one must remember the words of King David (Psalms 92:12): “When those who would harm me rise up against me, my ears have heard.” When people who hate me, the verse seems to be saying, and want to do evil to me talk, I will lower my ears to listen to their complaints because maybe they have a point. I may need to correct something or be more careful in my behavior.

How much more so does this apply when we are talking about a person who is not only not an enemy, but the person closest in the world to us. It is very worthwhile, and the right thing to do, to try and understand what is bothering your spouse. She might have a point, and even if she doesn’t, maybe you could make a small change that would make a huge difference to her.

COMMON COMPLAINTS FROM WIFE TO HUSBAND:

WIFE’S COMPLAINT:
1. “You don’t listen to me.”
2. “You don’t talk to me enough.”

HUSBAND’S RESPONSE:
“We talked about whatever was necessary. I really don’t understand what is bothering you. You talk so much on the phone with your friends and family, why do you need to talk to me so much?

WHO’S RIGHT?

The husband sees conversation with his wife as a way of transmitting information; his wife sees conversation as a way to forge an intimate connection with her husband.

A woman sees communication as connection, whereas the husband mainly talks in order for her to know something she needs to know, like details about finances, shopping, education of children, health matters, etc. Women also talk to their husbands for practical reasons but she uses speech mainly as a sort of proof that they’re connected, and to build that connection.

A husband must understand that his wife needs him to talk with her not because she has no one else to speak to, but because she has a pure and natural need to speak specifically to him! This is the reason why a woman continues to talk even after he understands what she is saying from the first sentence. When he says as much, she gets hurt and insists that he listen until she finishes.

Parenthetically, we are talking about a special consideration that is different from all other kindnesses that a man can do. Anything else in the world can be done by others instead of him. But to fulfill his wife’s need to connect with her husband through conversation? This can only be done by him, and it obligates him.

WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

A husband should initiate conversation, preferably when he first comes home. And it can’t hurt to add a phrase such as, “I waited all day for the moment when I could share this with you.” This approach will give a strong message of your desire for connection. The fact that you are the initiator is the key here. This gives your wife a feeling of security in your relationship and reduces her need for drawn-out conversations to prove that the relationship is strong. Tell her you wish you had more opportunity to spend time talking together.

Truthfully, according to her nature, you couldn’t possibly talk enough to satisfy her. And when she hears you admit that, she will already feel calmer. “He is connected to me, he loves me and wants to talk to me, but he is limited by time and work obligations that prevent him from having as much time to talk to me as he would like.” This knowledge gives her a sense of calm and happiness.

WIFE’S COMPLAINT:
“You don’t have time for me.”

HUSBAND’S RESPONSE:
“I think we actually spend a lot of time together.”

WHO’S RIGHT?

If a husband will pay close attention to how he behaves while at home, he will notice that he is often stressed out because he is late, or he is waiting for an important phone call. He feels like they spent time together, but she feels like he was there in body but not in spirit.

WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

Quality time. Even when the husband is in a rush or is expecting a phone call, and only has ten minutes, he must try to be calm, relaxed, and as present as possible. He should be giving over the message: “There is no more important job I have right now than to spend time with my other half, listening to her and helping her to the best of my ability.”

Adapted from 'Happily Married - The Complete Guide to a Successful Jewish Marriage' For Men, by Rabbi Zamir Cohen. Available now in English
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