"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:21

Over the years we have interviewed hundreds of wives, and many of them communicated at least three areas where they desired to see change in their husbands before they would believe their husband's commitment:

Careful Listening without Justification or Argument

It is often difficult for a man to converse with his wife without challenging the meaning of various words she uses to explain how she feels inside. If a husband can overlook the actual words his wife uses to express herself and instead, actively pursue what she means, fewer arguments will take place. One man I know finds it almost impossible to do this. When his wife says, "You never do this," or "Your always do that," he will inevitably say, "Now, dear, I don't always do that," or "Did I do it yesterday?" or he begins to analyze her statement to prove it false.

If we can stop justifying our actions and quit arguing about the words our wives use, we can get to the heart of the matter. We can try rephrasing our wives statements, "Is this what you were trying to say?" or "Is this what I'm hearing?" It is essential in communication to look past the surface words to the real meaning behind the words.

Quickness to Admit Error

Countless wives and children have told me how their family relationships have been weakened because of a husband's or father's unwillingness to admit his errors. Though husbands sometimes think admission of errors reveals their weaknesses, the opposite is true.

A humble admission of wrong produces positive results. When a husband admits he has hurt his wife, she feels better just knowing he understands. Not only that, it demonstrates that he is a wise man because the Scriptures tell us that only the wise seek counsel.

Patience When She is Reluctant to Believe You've Changed

What if you've been doing everything within your power to let your wife know she has first place in your life, and she still doesn't believe you've changed? Do you throw up your arms in disgust? Or do you gently persuade her over a period of time? Her initial respect for you wasn't lost overnight, and it can't be regained in a day. Show her that no matter how long it takes, you want to earn her respect.

For Wives - A Gentle Answer Turns Away Wrath

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

No one likes to be criticized, regardless of how much truth lies behind the criticism. Whether we are male or female, six or sixty, when someone corrects us, we automatically become defensive. Yet honest communication is vital to marriage. These two basic truths appear contradictory. How do you honestly tell the one you love about something you find displeasing or aggravating without prompting that familiar, defensive glare or indifferent shrug?

The following four principles outline the indirect approach. This is especially beneficial for wives when they are wanting to comment on their husband's insensitivity.

1. Learn to express your feelings through three loving attitudes:

a. Warmth is the friendly acceptance of a person. It's considering a person to be important enough to give your time and resources to—to share his concerns, not because he has earned it, but simply because he's a human being.

b. Empathy is the ability to understand and identify with a person's feelings.

c. Sincerity is showing a genuine concern for a person without changing your attitude toward him when circumstances change.

2. Learn to share your feelings without using "you" statements. For example, the statement, "You're never home on time" or "Can't you get up earlier and take care of the kids just once?" "You" statements usually cause a man to either dig in and fight or to promptly leave your presence without resolving the issue. Either way, it makes him more determined to have his own way.