The other day, I was running obscenely late to an appointment.
Jason was trying to tell me something about a book he had heard about or something like that – I don’t remember exactly what it was because I wasn’t 100% listening. I could hear him but admittedly, I wasn’t really listening.
I still needed to dry my hair, put on make-up and rally my three – and within ten minutes.
“Never mind,” he said when I stepped into the bathroom.
When I explained my predicament, he simply said, “You can just say ‘I’m running late but I want to hear this later when I get home’ you know.”
And the thing is…he’s right.
When you’re trying to talk to someone and they keep stealing glances at their phone or looking beyond your shoulder to see who else is in the room, you don’t feel very important. The same is true when you walk out of a room, even an adjoining room in which you would still be able to hear, when someone is still talking.
It’s not about the logistics because yes, I could still hear him. It’s about the message I’m sending him in my own body language.
So I wonder why I don’t always stop and look my husband in the eye when he’s trying to tell me something . . . After all, he is the closest person to me. The one I adore. My earthly true north.
And it’s also true that sometimes I long to talk to him more. I long to have him sit and listen to me without distraction and actually want to do so.
But it’s probably hard to be motivated to do that with someone doesn’t do the same for you.
This week, we are discussing Chapter Ten and Eleven of The God Empowered Wife by Karen Haught.
Chapter Ten, entitled “The Blessing,” is something that seems so very simple. Yet admittedly, it’s something I’ve overlooked in the past and it’s come back later to bite me. Hard.
So often, I make decisions on whether or not I’m going to do something or go somewhere on my own; I will then consult Jason about the logistics and see if he thinks it’s a good idea.
However, it’s critically important to have the blessing of our husbands before we commit to anything. If we fail to do so, resentment towards whatever is taking our time will build and it won’t be pretty. Trust me on this one. I’ve walked this path, sisters.
On the other hand, it’s so easy to offer our insights, thoughts, suggestions, and criticisms when he is the one trying to make a tough decision. (Or maybe that’s just me.)
It’s not that we can’t offer up our thoughts because remember . . . we aren’t doormats. But wisdom would call for us to hear AND listen then, if asked, lovingly offer up our opinion on the matter. Lovingly, not critically. We can also offer to pray for him and encourage him to talk to other godly men to obtain their thoughts as well.
Karen begins Chapter Eleven by talking about a T.V. show she watched about dog obedience. In it, the narrator discusses “pack behavior” – the alpha dog displays dominant body language while the rest of the dogs are submissive to him.
But not only do dogs behave this way within their packs but with their owners as well. On page 107, Karen says, “…if your dog rests with his paw or head on top of your foot or stares at you, he’s in effect saying, ‘I’m the boss and you’re not.'”
So much of our body language can be construed as alpha body language and we oftentimes don’t even know we’re doing it. Do I put my arm over his when we are holding hands? Do I put my arm around him while he falls towards me? Do I put my legs over him when we are snuggling on the couch? Do I fling myself all over him?
Do I always have to be “top dog”?
Failing to hear and listen is also a dominant behavior – hence my husband’s frustration in the above conversation. I was essentially saying to him, “I expect you to stop and listen to me because I’m the alpha but I don’t have to show you the same respect.” Ouch.
And yes, I know this might sound silly and trivial but there is so much power in body language. Sometimes even more so than verbal language because our actions do indeed speak louder than our words.
So this week, I would love for you to comment on any or all of the following (and yes, please offer up your thoughts even if you aren’t officially in the study. And yes, you can still join our Facebook group! Click here to request an invitation.)
1. Has there ever been a time when you didn’t share something you did or committed to until later because you thought he might disapprove? If so, how did you feel before, during, and after?
2. What alpha behaviors do you see in yourself and/or other women?
3. Comment on anything that stuck with you from either Chapter Ten or Eleven (or both!)
I have caught myself making purchases that I knew he would probably want me to hold off. I kind of went by the motto of “ask forgiveness later.” I felt extremely anxious and upset because I knew I was being dishonest and disrespectful. It also was not easy when it was made clear to my husband my actions.
Also, I am an extremely dominant person and have been for as long as I can remember. The chapter on Body Language was very convicting for me because I often show extremely dominant body language. My husband is also a very dominant personality so I am not sure if he ever felt disrespected. I tried really hard opening myself up to be submissive with my body and it was hard not to do the things I normally do. However, it did allow him to come and offer affection.
I don’t really feel like I’ve deliberately made decisions with the intent of asking for forgiveness later, but I tend to make decisions myself simply out of habit. Sometimes I’ll make the decision and then it will hit me that I should’ve asked. He’s pretty understanding of it, but I’m trying to better.
The body language information also stood out to me. I had never even thought about it before now, but am now trying to pay closer attention to what I’m saying with my actions.
I don’t recall a situation where I made a decision that he would not be okay with. If he is not available to ask, he knows I will weigh the pros and cons before making my choice. If I must have his input, he knows I will find a way to speak with him first.
In some marriages I see the husbands quiet unless they are spoken to or screamed at for everything as though they were a child.
I think body language says a lot, since the reading. In my marriage, I will lay my hand on his leg he covers it with his. If I lay my hand on his, he squeezes mine. If I wrap my arms with his, I always go from behind. When you mentioned being to busy to hear what he has to say, this is sometimes the case. I give him my undivided attention as often as I can. Sometimes children need things immediately, or that phone call you have been waiting for has come through. I usually say, “I’ll be right back.” I can do better! I need to remember, I want to hear this, but I must take the call or feed the children.
I love that the author mentioned “asking her husband to pray for her” and buying him the Power of a Praying Husband. This is something that might help, if he will do it. It’s worth a try! We pray for things, and I always pray for him, but don’t know how much that is reciprocated.
Listening without multi tasking – that is a huge challenge for me! I have to make a conscious effort to stop what I am in the middle of and take the time to honor my husband with the gift of listening attentively. I recently took up the hobby of knitting to help me unwind and relax. It has been such a blessing because I can easily sit and knit and spend time just hanging out with my husband while he works at his desk. My fingers stay busy and we are spending time together that I otherwise wouldn’t have slowed down to enjoy.