When your Husband Doesn't Listen To You

When Your Husband
Doesn't Listen to You

“I’ve tried to tell him, but he won’t listen to me.” How many times have we heard each other say something like this about our husbands? Sometimes it’s a flippant comment, and sometimes it’s a desperate plea for help, but regardless of the circumstances, it’s a source of frustration. What should we do about it?

Before we jump in, single ladies, listen up. Keep these things in mind not just for the future but in interactions with your dads, brothers, and boyfriends or potential suitors. There’s a lot in here about the male-female dynamic, and you probably already struggle with some of the mental and emotional issues that prevent effective communication between husbands and wives. This is for you too.

No matter what the situation is, be in the Word continually, and make sure you’re intentionally and specifically praying about what’s going on. Pray that God would rightly order your thoughts, attitudes, and feelings. You can pray for your husband’s too, but make sure yours aren’t in the way of progress.

Don’t go around bad-mouthing him or complaining. That’s not the way to fix anything. It will make you bitter and provide opportunity for others to sin in their thoughts toward both you and your husband.

Realize you’re probably wrong about something. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re completely wrong or that your husband is completely right, but be humble enough to acknowledge your own fallibility. 

In the John Wayne movie McClintock! one woman tells another, “We have to learn to forgive our husbands, usually for things they didn’t do.” Granted, we can’t actually forgive people for sins they haven’t committed, but this little quip brings to light one of women’s major stumbling blocks. Have you ever noticed that something has happened, assumed your husband did it, and gotten all out of sorts, only to find out that he didn’t do it? Check your attitude before you go accusing or telling yourself stories.

When we say, “My husband won’t listen to me,” we could be talking about a number of scenarios. Here are a few to consider before you confront the situation.

Scenario #1:
He doesn’t agree with you, and you’re choosing not to accept that. You struggle or outright refuse to submit because you’re sure you’re right.
The Solution:
You’re just sure you’re right about this, but your husband is just sure you’re not. Remember that he’s your head, and sometimes he will make mistakes.  His mistakes are his responsibility, not ours. Our job is to submit (unless his decision is sinful, in which case you should seek counsel from your elders or pastor). If you have trouble trusting your husband–which, of course, you should pray often about–at least trust God Who, in His infinite wisdom, gave you this leader of your family.

Scenario #2:
He doesn’t agree with you, but you haven’t talked about it enough and don’t understand each other, so it feels like he doesn’t care.

The Solution:
Give the situation a little more time, and then ask him if you can talk about it again. Make sure he knows you’re not trying to defy what he’s saying but rather that you want to understand better why he thinks the way he does on this subject. Be calm even if it makes you emotional. Slow down. Lower your pitch. It’ll be okay. 

At the end of the day, you don’t have to understand everything before you can obey your husband. Remember that the Apostle Peter said Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him Lord.  There are many times when we don’t have the complete picture, but the Lord Jesus still requires our obedience.  

Scenario #3:
You charged at the situation with an accusing attitude, feeling very justified in your thoughts. You thought if you were upset he would listen, but instead he seems to have completely ignored the problem.

The Solution:
When the atmosphere is not already heated and you’re not already about to blow a fuse, ask your husband, “Can we talk about something?” before diving into the problem.

Use “‘I’ language” (like they used to tell us in elementary health class), things like “I feel…” when talking about an issue. When you let your husband know you’re feeling a certain way about something, you’re admitting to him that you could be wrong, because that’s what feelings very often are--wrong. You could go a step further and say, “I realize I could be wrong about this, but I’ve been feeling like…” 

But check your tone. Don’t be snarky and try to say these things when you have actually decided that you’re completely right and he’s completely wrong. That’s dishonest. Before you say any of this, pray that God would help you to believe it.

Scenario #4:
Usually when you complain to him about things and he suggests corrections or solutions, you tell him you “just want him to listen.” But this time, this time, you need solutions, and he doesn’t have any you like.

The Solution:
“Venting”–referring to talking about problems without wanting solutions– is another word for “complaining,” and the Bible specifically tells us not to complain (Philippians 2:14). So stop venting. Nancy Wilson in her book Virtuous says, “Hearing yourself complain just reinforces your bad attitude and makes things seem even worse than they are.” 

This absolutely does not mean we shouldn’t ever talk about our problems. We need to be confessing our sins and talking about our concerns with the right attitude and in the right context. But wanting to vent at your husband and ignore his suggestions and corrections is not fair or godly. It’s worldly, and it will tempt him not to take your concerns seriously because, if you don’t want solutions, you don’t take your concerns seriously.

Scenario #5:
Your heart is right, you’ve spoken to him rightly, and you know your concern is legitimate, but he won’t make any changes.

The Solution:
This last type of situation is less common than the rest, but it does happen. It usually involves a sin your husband is caught up in. This can be a really delicate situation. But it’s part of the reason you have a church. Ask your husband if he’s talked to the elders or the pastor about the problem. If he hasn’t, you can. Again, make sure you’re being humble and are continually praying both for your husband and for yourself. Ask God how you can be a helper to your husband. Continue in your duties. Don’t use his sin as an excuse for your own sin. But don’t be afraid to seek help.

If you’re not sure which of these situations matches yours, talk to a more mature woman in the church. Tell her the situation as honestly as you can. For bigger issues it might be necessary for you and your husband to go to an elder or pastor so they can hear both sides of the story. But regardless of what’s going on, take heart. Pray and be humble. Keep striving for God’s glory.