Husbands, how often, when our wives are sharing their heart, thoughts or challenges with us, do we assume the role of problem solver? How automatic is it for us to want to share our ideas of what should or should have been done or said? Is their another role we might play?
While sharing such thoughts may be appropriate at times, there are a fair number of times when she just wants to be heard and supported through empathy. We may be naturally inclined to be rescuers, problem solvers…fixers. We hear our spouse in distress or perplexed and view it as an opportunity to shed light and resolve. In so doing, we may forgo an opportunity to play another key role in any relationship…that of a listener.
I know I struggle with this. In most every other area of my life, I am asked to solve problems and make decisions. It is unnatural for me to listen to people’s challenges and not immediately start to conceive of ways to address them. It is sometimes lost on me that simple empathy and expressions of compassion are all that are required of me. In the movie Superman Returns, the hero’s father (Jor-EL) teaches him that he must use his powers to save the world from things they cannot themselves manage…leave the rest to the world.
Our wives do not necessarily want to replace their wisdom with our own. At times, they are simply looking to share their hearts with us and know that we support them in their own journey for answers and resolution. It may be appropriate to ask whether they’d like our advice or are just looking for a sounding board or shoulder on which to lean. As we struggle to learn how and when to be listeners, let’s remember the wisdom given to the son of Jor-EL.
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