Communication is a funny beast. I didn’t need another lesson on this, but I recently got one anyway when we printed a banner promoting a Christmas Conference. The banner was supposed to say, “Proverbs 31 Ministries Presents… A Christmas to Remember Conference, Saturday, November 10.” When we sent the text via e-mail to the printing company, we put the font name we wanted them to use for our logo in parentheses. We were excited when our banner finally went up. It was two-sided, strategically placed on a busy road in the heart of town. Many people would see this banner and hopefully be drawn to register for our event. Our excitement took an unexpected twist when we drove by to admire our big promotion piece only to discover this is what it said, “Proverbs 31 Ministries (NUPTIAL) Presents. . . A Christmas to Remember Conference, Saturday, November 10.” Yikes! Nuptial is the font we wanted them to use. Never did we think they would actually print the word nuptial!

We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Sharon, my partner, quipped, maybe people will think it’s a two-for-one deal. . . hear some great Christmas ideas and get married all in the same day.” Another friend tried to console me by saying, “Well, at least you didn’t request the font called Winqdings!”

We definitely need to communicate but how hard it is to tame this monster. I’m sure you’ve seen this firsthand in your marriage. In Capture Her Heart, the companion to this book, I tried to explain to men the often misunderstood part of a woman’s language, called hints.

Hints are a way for a wife to tell her husband something without coming out and saying it. Why would she want to do that? Because if she comes right out and says it, it ruins the outcome she desires. For example if your wife says to you, “I’m a little stressed out about Thursday. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment, and I can’t find anyone to watch Suzie.” You might react by suggesting a few people she should ask or by telling her to reschedule. But what she’s hinting to you is, “Will you take a late lunch and watch Suzie for me while I go to the doctor on Thursday?” What she wants to know is, in a bind, are you willing to go the extra mile for her?

She uses hints, because she wants it to be your idea. She’s clueing you in on something that you could do that would mean a lot to her. If you don’t understand her hint and don’t offer to help her, the next time you’re having a heated discussion she’ll remind you of the time she asked you to watch Suzie for her and you said no. You won’t have a clue as to what she’s referring to. Thus a breakdown in communication and another argument where you are left scratching your head wondering why women are so complicated.

Now do you know what I’m talking about? I’ve been a master at hints, and it’s gotten me into trouble through the years. Actually, it’s gotten my husband in quite a bit of trouble. Can you relate?

Here are a few comments from men who responded to my surveys:

“Just tell me what you are thinking. ” SCOTT [SHEFFIELD] “Please have the ladies understand that we cannot read their minds. We need clear instructions. ” JEFFREY [KINGS MOUNTAIN]

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“Draw me a map to your heart and pray for me that I will stop and read the map or ask for directions.” JIM [MADISION]

What I’ve come to realize is that husbands are hunters, not hinters. Men process things differently than women do. They hear a problem and instantly they hunt for a solution, shoot the idea our way, and check it off their list. They like quick, non-emotional solutions.

Women are all about emotion. Behind many of the requests we hint about, there are underlying requests being made such as, “Show me you care,” “Show me I’m special,” or “Show me that you think of me during your day.” We see our requests as relationship-building opportunities. They see them as problems to be solved. So how do we resolve this communication dilemma?

Why not make your daily requests plain and simple enough for him to understand and help him find creative ways to meet your underlying emotional needs? Every Sunday my husband and I have a meeting where we talk about our schedules for the week. I’ve learned to put hinting aside during these meetings and make my requests directly. I used to worry that I might be asking too much for him to take time after work to run an errand or pick up the kids from an extracurricular activity, but not anymore. I’m not superwoman, and I can’t do everything myself. He doesn’t mind helping as long as I don’t throw things at him at the last minute. If he has time to process my requests and there is no conflict with his schedule, he’s usually more than willing to help.

About the underlying emotional needs, here’s something to try. It’s called “love jars.” Get two empty jars and write your name on one and your husband’s on the other. Put five slips of paper in both jars and ask your husband for time to do this exciting activity. When you both have time to sit down together, ask him to write down five things (one on each slip of paper) that would speak love in a way that would be especially meaningful to him. You do the same. Fold the notes in half and each of you tuck them in your own jar. Each Sunday for the next five weeks, each of you picks from the other’s jar one activity to do during that week. Keep it a secret and make sure to commit to doing for each other what the slip of paper you’ve chosen says. This is a lot of fun and will add a spark of excitement that can keep those home fires burning, to say nothing of what it will do to improve communication skills of the hunter and the hinter.

RELATIONSHIP BUILDER: Gather the materials to put together his and hers “love jars.” Plan to start the “love jar” activity this upcoming Sunday.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Draw me a map to your heart and pray for me that I will stop and read the map or ask for directions. JIM [MADISON]

From Capture His Heart, by Lysa TerKeurst. Copyright © 2002, Moody Publishing. Used with permission of the publisher

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