This is not an article about communication tools or how to communicate (read those too). My primary focus is to encourage you to understand and connect with your wife’s heart and not just what she intends to communicate; her heart is deeper than that. That is not to say that communication in and of itself cannot be intimate, but you can at times connect at the heart without needing the rules of healthy communication, or even a word.
Likely there are times that your wife will repeat herself. This is both an opportunity and a signal. If your wife is repeating herself, most likely she is signaling that she is not feeling “heard” or connected to you. This can be an opportunity once you recognize the signal because now you know you have probably missed it. You can clarify her intended message but her heart needs to be “held.” You may do this simply by holding her. An empathetic word or touch can go a long way. Of course there may be times when a hug is not appropriate. If she doesn’t want you to touch her, maybe she is angry with you, make extra efforts to empathize with her by listening respectfully. The expression on your face may say to her if you care or not.
Another way to “hear” your wife’s heart is to watch for it. When you first started dating, you may have made an effort to notice things she likes and dislikes. Do this again but in deeper ways. Get to know more fully what makes her happy, sad, what her dreams are, etc. When you know these things, never stop looking for them and use them to exhort and encourage her.
When she is upset after a phone call from her parents – “I know how devastating it is for you when your dad disregards you feelings. Do you want to talk about it?”
When she is screaming at you – “If I hadn’t had my mind so focused on work, I would have remembered how important it is for you that I remember the anniversary of your father’s death; I know it makes you feel important to me.”
When she won’t say a word to you – “I know when you won’t talk to me you are usually hurt. I would love to talk about it when you are ready.”
Don’t always wait for the difficult moments to engage her, engage her in the easy ones. It may seem too simple to start dating her again, but it isn’t. First, it will be difficult to date her again consistently. Second, it may not be complex, but it got you a wife the first time. Just like you hopefully do with your kids, look for connecting moments to share. Just as Mary Magdalene poured her precious perfumes over Jesus’ feet, treat her extravagantly. Extravagance is not about money, although some of you who may be scrooges will have to loosen up a bit; it is about time, affection, and serving. As you get moving, she will be on your mind more and it will be easier and more rewarding to continue. You will remember what you once knew about her and learn what you never knew.