Whether your husband has thrown his towel on the bedroom floor or not given a second thought to your busy day before announcing that he'll be taking the car in for a tune-up, communicating with him effectively is critical. Choose the wrong approach, and soon you'll be having a conversation about your demeanor and words instead of his inconsiderate behavior.
Address the inconsiderate behavior directly rather than indirectly. Slamming the doors of the kitchen cabinets after he's come home later for dinner once again will not facilitate problem-solving. Instead, approach him and say something like, "I was worried about you when you didn't call to say you'd be home late. I'd have so much more peace of mind if you'd give me a call whenever you know you'll be more than half an hour late."
Discuss his behavior, not his personality. If you say, "You're always so inconsiderate," he'll immediately be on the defensive. On the other hand, if you say, "When you drink the last of the orange juice, please throw the empty container in the trash so I'll know to buy some more. When you put it back in the refrigerator, I think we still have some."
Use calm and respectful voice tones. Yelling will only serve to put the focus on your emotions rather than on what you actually wish to communicate, notes counselor Erika Krull in an article on PsychCentral.com. Although it may be tempting to let out your frustration about his seeming inability to see that the kitchen trash is overflowing even though he's walked past it several times, keep your cool. If you find that you are geared up to unleash a torrent of angry words, take a few deep breaths before approaching your spouse.
Listen to what your husband says with not only your ears, but your heart, avoiding judgement. For example, when he says that he simply doesn't notice the dishes in the sink, consider that this may very well be true. He could be preoccupied with work or a personal problem that hinders his ability to see what needs to be done in the present moment. After hearing what he has to say, discuss the situation further if you feel there's more than meets the eye.
Bring your husband a cup of coffee in bed or otherwise be very considerate. Your actions might cause him to take a step back and realize that he has been lacking when it comes to considering your needs. Feelings follow actions, notes Krull, who warns falling into the "what's in it for me" trap. Don't worry if your husband doesn't respond immediately. Your example will set a new tone for the relationship and will communicate that consideration is of great value to you.
Seek connection and you'll enhance your communication, says Steven Stosny, Ph.D., founder of CompassionPower. All the communication techniques in the world aren't likely to be effective if the two of you aren't connected. Show interest, compassion and love, and not only will your husband become more connected -- and possibly more considerate -- but you'll place less importance on the times when he is inconsiderate.
Use open body language when discussing your husband's tendency to leave his dirty clothes laying around instead of putting them in the hamper. Instead of crossing your arms and wrinkling your brow, stand with your arms at your side in a more open posture, keeping your facial expressions friendly or neutral. This way, you'll avoid sending out signals that might put your husband on the defensive.
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Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.