Learning From Ms. Understanding (Part II)
By Jim Mitchell
In their book The Seven Conflicts, Tim and Joy Downs say, “The problem isn't you and the problem isn't me; the problem is us."
Can you relate? I sure can.
Yesterday, I explained how my laser focus on words, coupled with my wife’s more laissez-faire style, sends us into a communication death spiral.
Not a spiral in the sense of some uncontrollable twister spun into motion by our poor choices (although we make plenty of those).
It’s more like a DNA helix tightly woven into our instincts, stubbornly setting us up for friction.
But, it turns out, it’s also setting us up to display God’s likeness: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Proverbs 1:20-33 personifies Wisdom as a woman, let’s call her Ms. Understanding, who raises her voice in the noisy streets, longing to be heard.
Here’s what I’m learning from Ms. Understanding:
1. To focus less on words and more on tone and body language. Which, it’s been said, is roughly 90% of communication anyway. But until you decide to read nonverbals, it’s effectively 0%.
2. To show curiosity by asking warmer questions. “Help me understand what’s on your heart,” feels better than, “What did you say?”
3. To read her mind. For years, I scoffed at this notion. But the longer I’m married, the more I enjoy knowing her, even when she can’t explain herself.
Imagine your wife walking away from a conversation actually understanding herself better. Talk about a game changer! This kind of intimacy isn’t learned in five minutes, and that’s what makes it special.
4. To tolerate misunderstanding, which actually makes her feel more understood. Leaving margin for details that don’t immediately make sense in my mind creates a relaxing comfort in hers.
Husbands, you’re not commanded to “understand your wife,” but to “live with her in an understanding way” (1 Peter 3:7).
It’s a mind-blowing, life-altering, marriage-defining difference. And you can learn how.
The good stuff: The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. (Proverbs 20:5)
Action points: In what ways might “Ms. Understanding” be causing communication issues in your marriage? In your next argument (we hope it’s not today, but no judgment here), consider which of the four above lessons you might apply.
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