There’s a golden phrase I’ve discovered. It prevents my husband from getting defensive when I’m upset or concerned about something he has said or done. Instead of accusing him of doing something wrong, I have learned to kindly and sincerely ask this question: “Help me understand why…”
This simple question prevents the monster of defensiveness from raising its ugly head. By asking my husband to help me understand, I’m communicating two things to my husband. 1) I really do care about his perspective and feelings, and 2) I’m acknowledging there may actually be a legitimate reason for why he did or said whatever. At least, I’m giving him a chance to explain himself before I start arguing with him or condemning him!!
By asking my husband to help me understand his perspective, I’m avoiding a foolish argument. Proverbs 18:2 says “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” By asking my husband to help me understand his perspective, I’m pleasing both God and my husband by living out the instructions in Philippians 2:4 “Each of you should consider not only your own interests, but also the interests of others.”
Try this phrase when you sense a potential ugly argument is headed your way. You can not only use this phrase with your husband, but with your children, your in-laws, your co-workers, your boss, and more. Again, the phrase (actually a question) is….”Help me understand why…”
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