I think men often get a bad rep for not being the best listeners. I’ve heard women complain about how their husband tunes them out or doesn’t quite get what they are trying to express. But as communicators, we have to really be willing to ask ourselves some tough questions if our messages are not being well received.

Sometimes the problem is not the message or the receiver. Often, the issue can simply be how the message is delivered. Your tone, your body language, and even when you decide to deliver particular messages can make all the difference. Who really wants to come home from work only to hear of list of things they either didn’t do or they did wrong? I sure don’t. I need some compassion and love in my life after a long day.

Is it possible that even with the very best delivery, your husband still is not hearing you? Yes, unfortunately that is very possible. But before we jump to the conclusion that his listening skills are way off, I think we can avoid many misunderstandings if we just take a moment to closely examine what we are doing. If you feel compelled to point the finger, point it at yourself first. It can help you grow and can also change the way you communicate with your spouse going forward.

Here are a few common statements you can rephrase to help create healthy dialogue with your spouse. Uncross your arms, take that base out of your voice, and say what you have to say with clarity, compassion, and love –even if you aren’t all that happy. It may not always work, but it can help move things in a healthier direction.

Is there a reason why you never fold any of the clothes?

Is it okay if we can split folding the clothes or take turns doing it? It’s becoming too much for me to manage on my own and I would love some help with it.

I need a break. Is it a problem if I go out with my girls this weekend?

It’s been a rough week. I wanted to take a bit of time this weekend to unwind and hang out with the girls for a bit. Did you have anything planned? Maybe you can do something with the fellas?

Why can’t you cook for once?

I know you love it when I cook, but I actually love it when you cook, too. Do you think we can pick days of the week where we can each make a meal and then the other days can be leftovers or take out?

So you are working late again, huh?

I appreciate all you do for our family and I know your job is demanding, but I miss spending time with you and managing things without you can be hard sometimes. What can we do to make this better?

I’m gonna need you to help out more. I cannot do everything by myself.

I know it seems like I have this juggling act down, but some days it feels like way too much for me and it’s becoming harder and harder to manage. Can we talk about things we can do differently to make things more manageable?

In all of these examples the same sentiment is being expressed but in a much calmer, sweeter tone. There is some definite truth to the old adage; “you can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.” I am not suggesting that you ignore your true feelings or neglect your needs. I’m simply suggesting that you open up the discussion with a different frame of mind. It’s always easier to get someone to engage if they feel like they are about to enter a peaceful conversation rather than a fight.