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10 Signs Your Wife Desperately Needs You to Listen to Her

  • Jen Ferguson
10 Signs Your Wife Desperately Needs You to Listen to Her

Many of us know how we are supposed to act. We know the tenets of effective communication. We know that resentment and bitterness are bad for our health—physically and emotionally. We know that both lashing out irrationally and the silent treatment do nothing to promote growth in our marriage.

We know, and yet…

As Paul states in Romans 7:15, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”

There have been more times than I can count in my almost 18 years of marriage when words escape my mouth while my brain is at the same time telling me: STOP! Don’t say that! It’s not [helpful, productive, kind, etc.]. Sometimes the opposite happens where my brain tells me to talk to my husband and my mouth simply won’t open. My emotions will it shut.

There are signs that your wife desperately needs you to hear her—either the words behind the actual things she is saying or the words that she can’t bear to let escape. There is something she needs to say but feels unsafe and afraid to come out and say exactly what she’s feeling. This could be because of the track record in your marriage or because of wounds she had even before she met you.

Regardless of the reason, here are 10 signs you need to stop what you’re doing, listen, and make sure you truly understand what is going on with her and with your marriage.

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1. Her words are dripping with bitterness, resentment, anger, and nagging.

I hear you—these are the last kind of words you want to hear. They are not only difficult to listen to, but they often make her the last person with whom you want to deal. They provoke your own set of negative emotions and then no one can hear anything above the angry noise, the least of which is the broken heart behind the animosity. But in the way that Jesus came to heal us while we were sinners, he showed us that love does not shy away from messy emotional storms like this. He said in Mark 2:17, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." 

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2. She stops telling you what she needs.

She probably really does need help—physically, emotionally, spiritually, but she seems to take care of everything herself. Maybe you think she’s strong and capable enough to deal with everything life throws at her and, quite possibly, this is the image she’s trying to project and protect. But she didn’t sign up for a roommate when she got married. Most likely, she signed up to have a partner who will share struggles and burdens and responsibilities. But for whatever reason, she’s having a hard time articulating how you can help, or she fears you won’t meet her needs.

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3. She’s constantly talking with her girlfriends.

This may not apply if your wife is extremely introverted or an internal processor. If that describes your wife, the exact opposite may be true—she may withdraw even more. But if she is an extrovert and/or an external processor, this means that whatever is inside of her must come out—her energy, her thoughts, and her emotions. If you’re not hearing her, she will find someone who will. 

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4. She’s emotionally connecting with other men.

There is never an excuse for this behavior—emotional affairs are still affairs (and can lead to a physical one). Nevertheless, it is a huge red flag that your wife is feeling unheard and has started to seek out other male companions who will listen. She will try to get from them what she wants from you


5. She’s talking to the kids about things she should be talking about with you.


If you overhear, or your children approach you with, conversations your spouse has had with them that you feel are inappropriate (age or content-wise), pause to consider why she’s communicating in this way with them. Chances are, she’s trying to convey her message through a different avenue and may not even realize the unhealthiness of this.

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6. She tries to earn your affection.

Is she bending over backward to make you happy? Is she walking on eggshells to avoid making you angry or upset or disappointed? If so, she may be trying to earn your love, thinking that if she does everything right, maybe you’ll see her and hear her. But this is no way to live. She will grow tired and unable to keep this up. She needs to be loved as Jesus loves the church (i.e. without condition).

Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."

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7. She’s engaging in unhealthy behaviors.

Maybe you’ve noticed she’s drinking a little more at night or watching more television. Is the credit card bill is creeping up while new things are continually showing up in your house? Here’s the point: When she feels neglected by you, she will try to fill herself with things that don’t last, but that provide a temporary high, an escape from the pain she feels.

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8. She withholds things she used to freely give.

Is she reluctant to have sex? Are there little things she used to do for you that she’s simply stopped doing? Or does she still do these things, but you can tell they've become an obligation and not an expression of love? It’s hard to give when you’re empty and many women need an emotional connection in order to enjoy sex and to give cheerfully.

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9. She’s resentful of your extracurricular activities.

When I feel neglected, my immediate response is to start calculating exactly how much time husband, Craig, is spending with me versus how much time he’s spending with his friends and/or his electronic devices. I’m searching for proof that he really is valuing things above me so I can a) throw it in his face b) get some time with him. As you can probably surmise, these two things don’t go well within the same conversation. But if you can notice when she starts comparing herself with your schedule and/or activities, you can know it's time to make her a priority.

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10. Small things that she would see as molehills are now mountains.

When you’re on edge because you’re afraid you’re unloved, unnoticed, and unheard; everything is something that could push you over. When I don’t think Craig is hearing me, when I don’t think he cares, I look at every little thing to either support that he does or that he doesn’t love me. 

Listening—and really hearing—your spouse is critical to your marriage, and honestly, to her wellbeing. If you notice these behaviors in your spouse and are unsure of how to tune into her, it’s more than okay to ask for help from your pastor, a counselor, or trusted friend. Even the small step of acknowledging the communication gap between you goes a long way in the road of relationship repair. 

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Tools and Resources:

To help both of you to work to establish healthy communication, please check out this tool from our personal website. We have used this in our own marriage and it often helps us find a way to reset and have productive conversations. This download is free to subscribers of The Knot Project newsletter! Click here to get your free download and bonus content.

Jen Ferguson is a wife, author, and speaker who is passionate about helping couples thrive in their marriages. She and her husband, Craig, have shared their own hard story in their book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography and are also creators of the Marriage Matters Prayer Cards. They continue to help couples along in their journeys to freedom and intimacy at The {K}not Project. Jen is also a mama to two girls and two high-maintenance dogs, which is probably why she runs. A lot. Even in the Texas heat.

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