It happens so frequently when I do couples counselling. It’s what I do often say, whether directly or indirectly. It’s directed to him. It’s the temptation to say, ‘She just wants to be heard.’
And every now and then I hear myself want to say it to her, too, ‘He just wants to be heard.’
The truth is we all want to be heard, and if we can’t do the hearing we have no right to be heard.
It’s so ironic that I find myself in the role at all of couples’ counsellor – me, who once refused, year in, year out, to do marriage counselling. I didn’t believe I needed it, I didn’t believe we needed it. I didn’t believe in it. How fundamentally wrong I was. We all need it. At some stage or other.
And it’s especially so when we’re not heard – when our voice is trapped in some weird wilderness of bewilderment. When the self is buried dead in the partnership that exists like two ships passing in the night.
She just wants to be heard. It ought to be the easiest thing of all things to do for the husband – to put off himself and clothe himself in the wife’s needs; to be validated for what she so authentically experiences. Really, it’s true. Why is she constantly undermined for feeling what she does (or he, for that matter)?
It costs him nothing but the energy of curiosity, which is to be interested enough to seek to understand the cries his own wife shrieks in her spirit, writhing silently from within her soul.
If he can hear her, which is to void himself of himself only enough to be in his wife, he stands to experience her like he’s never experienced her. Alive in compassion, alert to kindness, elevated in gentleness, and cosy of soul, he does what must seem effortless to an onlooker. It doesn’t take much more than a decisive sacrifice. To think relatively nothing of it.
If only he can hear her. Harder things have been done. Easier things than this have hardly been known.
Yet still he struggles to put himself off to be curious enough to be interested sufficiently to know her.
She just wants to be heard. She needs his heart to change, yet there’s no sense in forcing something that will only be forced shut.
His heart must change. He mustn’t harden his heart. Still, a hardening takes place when she insists. She must stop insisting and instead insist upon entreating the Lord in prayer. It’s her only hope.
A miracle is needed. That’s what a changed heart is – nobody but God could have procured it. So pray to God, and live each minute praying in hope, living in expectation, without getting disappointed, that it may well happen. There’s nothing to lose and all to gain. Besides, with pressure gone, the impossible is possible again.
Oh, I know these men. I am one. And my heart was hard until it was broken, shattered upon the streets paved in the name of reconstruction. But not every heart softens in brokenness every time, though it ought to.
She just wants to be heard. She needs it. She won’t be reached otherwise. All else is a sheer waste of time until she is heard. Her heart remains impenetrably closed until it is massaged open with the salve of consideration.
If a man is to transcend himself and become what only God knows he can become, he will attempt what can only be done in and through God. And then he will understand why she wants to be heard, and when he understands this, he will be compelled to ensure she is heard.
He must understand why she wants to be heard. He need only check his own heart’s honest wants to know her need is valid.