By David Murrow
I just wrote a book titled, What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You. In it, I catalog the many secrets men keep from their wives.
I can’t possibly reveal all of these in the limited space of a blog post. However, I’d like to hand you a precious key that can unlock your husband’s heart – so you can discover these secrets on your own.
First, let me state the obvious: some men withhold the truth from their wives because it’s bad. They’re ashamed of their sin and don’t want their wives to know.
But even goodhearted men conceal much from their wives. Why? Because guys are trained from an early age to keep their true feelings to themselves. Men who share what they really feel are punished by their peers—and too often, by their wives.
Men learn as children to hide their true emotions. Five-year-old Patrick falls off his bicycle and skins his knee. The pain is so intense he starts to cry. His friends gather around him and start taunting. “Crybaby!” they yell. Patrick learns to keep his true feelings inside.
At age 15, Patrick is sitting with friends in the school cafeteria. He says, “Hey guys, I’m struggling with some fears. Can I share my heart with you?” Patrick is quickly laughed out of the room. He learns to keep is true feelings inside.
At age 25, Patrick is married. He says to his wife, “There’s a woman at work who is flirting with me. I want to stay faithful to you honey, but I’ve got to admit I’m struggling.”
How does she respond? Silence. Pouting. Depression. Even threat of divorce. The minimum sentence is a night on the sofa. Patrick learns to keep his true feelings inside.
Does this really happen? Just ask your husband, “Does this dress make me look fat?” Observe the terror in his eyes.
Imagine you’re housebreaking a puppy. Every time he soils the rug he gets a swat. But if he does his business outside you lavish rewards on him. Eventually the puppy does what he’s trained to do—not because he wants to, but because it’s the only way to avoid punishment.
Now, imagine you’re training a husband. Every time he tells you the absolute truth he gets a swat. But when he conceals his true feelings, you lavish rewards on him. Eventually he begins carefully managing what he tells you—not because he wants to, but because it’s the only way to avoid punishment.
If you penalize your man each time he reveals his true feelings, here’s the message you are sending: “If you want your life to be hell, tell me the truth. But if you want things to go smoothly, lie to me. Tell me only those things that won’t upset me.”
Don’t misunderstand: I am not blaming women for every communication glitch in marriage. Husbands do the same things to wives. I know women who can’t tell their husbands the truth because they’re afraid their men will explode. Women suffer too. I get it.
I’m simply asking you to open your eyes to the possibility that you are contributing to your husband’s silence. You may have unwittingly trained him to hide his true heart from you.
So how can you unlock your husband’s true heart? Make him this promise: “I will never punish you for telling me the truth. Even if you say, “I’m having an affair,” I will not retaliate in anger.”
You’re not giving him a pass to do whatever he wants – you’re promising to hear what he has to say—without shutting him down.
Weeks or months may pass. Then one day he’ll take a chance.
“Sweetheart, can we talk about your weight? It’s bothering me.”
“I’ve been thinking about quitting my job to pursue my dream.”
“Let’s talk about how we discipline the kids.”
“I’d like to spice up our sex life by trying some new things.”
“I’m feeling unsupported at home.”
These are not fighting words – they’re your husband’s true feelings.
At that moment you’ll have a decision to make. You can erupt in anger and shut him out. You can descend into a depression for having failed yet again. You can go into the bedroom and pout.
Or you can calmly listen to what he has to say. Thank him. Hear his concerns and take them to God in prayer. Do what you can to meet his needs.
So there’s your precious key – if you really want to know what your husband is thinking, learn to receive the truth with grace.
Visit the Patheos Book Club for more on What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You: A Guided Tour to A Man’s Body, Soul, and Spirit.
David Murrow is the bestselling author of Why Men Hate Going to Church and director of Church for Men, which works to restore a healthy masculine spirit in churches. A sought-after expert and speaker on men’s issues, he spent twenty years honing his skills as a communicator producing and writing award-winning TV documentaries, commercials, and specials. David has a degree in anthropology. He and his wife have three children and live in Chugiak, Alaska. Learn more at www.churchformen.com.