|Photo courtesy of stockimages, Free Digital Photos|
Let’s do a little experiment: say one phrase in at least five different ways. Use the same few words, and by the way you use your tone, make them happy, sad, sarcastic, questioning, a statement, mad, cross, without heart, etc. (How about the question, “What in the world?” or the word, "Whatever.") Try it out loud, now. It was easy, wasn’t it? You could convey the same words in many different ways—and it changed their meaning.
Men are very attuned to tone of voice. They hear things we honestly don’t.
A husband needs to hear:
The right approach
He doesn’t want to hear:
Yelling, angry words
Sometimes, wives can use the right words in the wrong way. To us, our statement means one thing, but it sounds completely different to him.
So, how can we learn to hear the difference? That’s a good question, since we don’t hear ourselves the way our husband does. There is hope! Let me offer a few suggestions for how we can change our tone of voice to be what we want our husbands to hear.
- Practice using a happy, lilting, welcoming voice. When hubby walks into the house or room, say “hello” in a happy-to-see-you voice. It can be “Hey, Baby!” or “Hi, Sugar!” or whatever nice things you want to call him, but practice every time you see him to say something that sounds welcoming and happy. (Accompany whatever you say with a beaming smile.)
- Get rid of all squawking and grouchiness from your vocabulary. Just don’t be discontent and unthankful out loud. If you’re genuinely disappointed in your husband or in your situation, take it to the Lord in prayer. Pour out your heart to Him. Your husband doesn’t need to hear you complaining.
- Be respectful in everything you say to or about your husband. Wherever you are and with whomever, don’t disrespect your husband. This goes for when you’re together face-to-face and when you're with your girlfriends. Guard your mouth from disrespecting your husband. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband (Ephesians 5:33b). (If you have a husband you don’t/can’t respect, ask God to help you and be sure to get Christian counsel. But still, treat him with respect, even if he hasn’t earned it.)
- If you’re tempted to yell, say angry words, tell him what for, or say something sarcastic to your husband, give yourself a few seconds of time out. Catch it before you say it. Practice thinking before speaking. There is no excuse for hollering at your husband. If and when you’re tempted to give him a piece of your mind, pause. Pray for help. Think of what you should say instead of what you wanted to. Sometimes, the best answer is no answer. The Bible says, a soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1). Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).
- Never say “always” or “never.” No one always does anything. And no one never does anything. So, erase those accusing words from your marriage vocabulary. You’re not your husband’s mother, anyway. You’re his helpmeet.
- Don’t tell him what to do. Your husband isn’t one of your children. He’s the head of your home—his God-given position in your family. You can tell him your opinion, but do it in a way that it’s a suggestion and not bossing. You can preface whatever you think he needs to do with “Hey, Babe, have you thought of it this way?” Or, “These are my feelings on this subject, but you can do whatever you feel is best. I’ll be praying for you.” “Sweetheart, when you can get to it, I’d appreciate it if you (do whatever you need done).” Don’t order him around, but you have every right to express an opinion. There’s a huge difference. Make sure, too, you say please and thank you for everything you ask him to do and for every task he does.
- Practice positive talk. Your husband has many burdens on him. Make your home a haven by thinking up happy subjects for conversation. Did the kids or the dog do something hilarious today? Did your friend tell you a funny story? Can you say something nice about someone or tell him about a blessing during your day? Was there a positive news story? What are you thankful for? Share it. Assure him of your love. You can never say “I love you” and “I’m so thankful for you” too much.
I’ve been married thirty-seven years. Experience has taught me that it’s more than worthwhile to practice being upbeat, happy, and content in my tone of voice. I’ve also learned that most things aren’t worth getting angry about, and nothing’s worth fighting about.
Accept that the two of you are very different human beings, and enjoy having an interesting companion in your life. Laugh a lot, pray a lot, and be joyful.
Your marriage will be better when you master the happiest tone of voice. May God bless you!