Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Ways to Talk So Your Husband Will Listen

  • Cindi McMenamin Author
10 Ways to Talk So Your Husband Will Listen

Do you ever feel that your husband is tone deaf to your frequency? Maybe he hears a tone you weren’t aware of, or words you’re sure you didn't say.

After being married for 30 years, and ministering to women and couples for nearly that long, I've discovered that what we say, as well as how and when we say it can make all the difference when it comes to whether or not our husbands are really listening.

Based on interviews with hundreds of couples over the years in order to write my books, When a Woman Inspires Her Husband and12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, here are ten ways to talk so your husband will listen:

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  • 1. Talk him up.

    1. Talk him up.

    Slide 1 of 10

     You, as your husband’s wife, have the ability to light him up more than anyone else. Your compliments and praise can go further than anyone else’s. Your pride in him is far more important to him than his mother’s, or even his children’s. He truly wants to know you think the world of him. And he wants the world to know it, too. I’ve never heard of a husband who didn’t listen intently when his wife was talking him up in public.

    So, if you feel your husband is not a “listener” when it comes to what you have to say, start building him up with your words – to him and to others. Practice Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

    When you practice lighting him up, talking him up, and saying what is helpful to him, according to what he needs in the moment, you’ll have a man waiting with baited breath to hear what you have to say next.

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  • 1. Talk him up.

    2. Talk softly.

    Slide 2 of 10

    If you want to capture someone’s attention, whisper. That was a sound byte for a perfume commercial years ago, but it works in marriage, too. Even when you’ve been married awhile and your husband is accustomed to your voice.

    I used to think if I talked louder, I’d be heard above anyone else. But lately I’m finding the opposite is true. When I make an effort to be a little quieter, my husband gets quiet in order to hear what I’m saying. (This works especially well if you’re not one to normally keep the volume down.) Proverbs 15:1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” A gentle voice can also turn a husband’s ear toward his wife. Be gentle and soft with both your words and your mannerisms and you may find your husband’s ear is a little more tuned to your softer frequency.

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  • 1. Talk him up.

    3. Talk less.

    Slide 3 of 10

    It’s a fact that men, by and large, don’t want to know every detail. They want to know the bottom line. So, when it comes to sharing the details of your day, or just sharing what’s on your heart, less is more. Dragnet’s Sgt. Joe Friday often implored female informants to provide "Just the facts, ma'am." That is good advice when telling wives how to communicate with their husbands, as well.

    Men tend to hear the first two or three sentences and then begin to tune out. So, say what you need to say in the first couple of sentences, and leave it at that. Don’t do as I used to do and bombard him with so many details that he stares at you, blankly. If you need to talk with him about something that will take some time, let him know there’s an issue you need to talk about (and clue him in on what it is to put his mind at ease) and ask when would be a good time to address it.

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  • 1. Talk him up.

    4. Affirm rather than accuse.

    Slide 4 of 10

    When you ask your husband a question, or state your opinion on a matter, he may tune you out if your tone sounds condescending or your words sound like an interrogation. Learn how to frame your words with admiration and affirmation and they will never come across as accusation.

    For example, don’t say “Are you going to go to dinner dressed that way?” That sounds to him like you accused him of looking like a slob. Instead, say “I would love it if you’d wear that new blue shirt of yours. You look terrific in it.” Even though you are implying “I wish you’d wear something else” he is hearing “I love the way you look in that shirt.” You just affirmed him. Frame your words more carefully and you’ll find that admiration and affirmation go a lot further than accusation.

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  • 1. Talk him up.

    5. Cut the chick chat.

    Slide 5 of 10

    If you believe your husband isn’t listening when you’re talking to him about “girl stuff” you’re right. Don’t expect him to be one of your girlfriends who enjoys the “chick chat” or gossip. He really doesn’t care about all the things that your girlfriends care about. (Remember his “Just the facts, ma’am” mentality?)

    When you’re bursting to tell someone about your conversation with a family member, the drama of the parent-teacher conference, or the process you went through to get a high-priced designer handbag online for a fraction of the cost, save the wonderful details for your girlfriends who will appreciate them as much as you do.

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  • 1. Talk him up.

    6. Cut the complaining and arguing.

    Slide 6 of 10

    We can sometimes have a tone without realizing it. And while we might think our husbands never pick up on other cues, they have an uncanny knack for discerning when we are on the edge! If we’ve had a bad day, if we’re just being critical of someone, or if we are complaining or arguing, they can tend to tune us out.

    Philippians 2:14 tells us to “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” and Proverbs 27:15 tells us “A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day” (NLT).  If you’re prone to negativity, start focusing on what went right and look for what you have to be grateful for every day. First Thessalonians 5:18 exhorts us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is one way to cut the complaining and be a person of gratitude instead. You may find your husband’s ears perk up at your words when there is praise, rather than complaint, on your tongue.

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  • 1. Talk him up.

    7. Cut the mothering.

    Slide 7 of 10

    In my book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, I have a chapter called “Light Him Up” in which I describe how to stop mothering, smothering, and hovering. All of those actions can cause a man to tune out just as soon as you open your mouth.

    Your husband doesn’t want another mother. And he certainly doesn’t want you to step in and be one. Talk to him, not like a mother, but like a lover. Instead of telling him “be careful” or “make sure you call me when you get in so I won’t worry about you” or “Don’t’ forget to wear your sunscreen” tell him things he would rather hear from the woman who loves him, not worries about him. Tell him “Have a great time,” “Go get ‘em Tiger” and “I can’t wait to hear your voice again.”

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  • 1. Talk him up.

    8. Talk playfully.

    Slide 8 of 10

    I recently observed a man and his girlfriend sitting next to me on the airplane.  At first, she was so giddy I was nauseated. But I noticed she had his ear. And his eyes. And his full attention. She even got a few kisses and tender touches during that flight, too. There was laughter, teasing, and an overall flirtation going on.

    If you’ve been married awhile, it might be difficult to get back that flirty tone and have fun with your husband again. But, think of yourself as his girlfriend and lover, rather than his mother; or as his playmate, not his business partner and you may find he enjoys your voice again and is eager to hear what you will say next. Flirt as you talk. Use your honeymoon voice. You will get – and keep – his attention.

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  • 1. Talk him up.

    9. Don't put him on the defensive.

    Slide 9 of 10

    I learned years ago from the son of a therapist that asking “why?” immediately puts a person on the defensive. It comes across as demanding. The other person can feel you are not only interrogating them, but accusing them of something.

    Instead of saying “Why did you say that the other night?” and putting him on the spot to defend himself, take a deep breath and say, more calmly, “When you have a chance, I’d like to exchange ideas about what we can do to respond better to each other.” By taking the “why” out of the question, and inserting yourself into the equation, you are being a team player who simply wants to improve the game. And that speaks a man’s language.

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  • 1. Talk him up.

    10. Choose good timing.

    Slide 10 of 10

    Choosing your timing is just as important as choosing your words. When your husband walks through the door and he’s tired, hungry, and focused on cleaning up, eating and relaxing, that is probably not the best time to hit him up with what just broke down, the outstanding bill you can’t pay, your child’s failing grade at school, or some relational issues. Proverbs 15:23 says: “A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!”

    Start by asking him when might be a good time to catch up with each other. Or, as a rule, make sure any “housekeeping” items are texted or emailed during the day so that you can both focus on more quality time when you are together at home at the end of a long day. Timing is everything when it comes to talking so your husband will listen.


    Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and award-winning author of more than a dozen books. She helps women and couples strengthen relationship with God and with each other. She and her husband, Hugh, have been married 30 years and co-authored the book, When Couples Walk Together: 31 Days to a Closer Connection. Cindi has also written When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, Drama Free, and Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs. For more on Cindi’s resources, including her newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband,see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

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