by Nancy Anderson

This is the third of a four-part discussion outlining communication techniques that have helped my husband and I understand each other. After 30 years of marriage, we’ve been able to demystifying some of our differences. Look for the final installment in Friday’s blog.

Be Specific; Be Heard

A few years ago, I hit on a principle that’s saved us from hundreds of misunderstandings and arguments.

One afternoon, I was frantically cleaning the house for our son Nick’s birthday party. Ron was sitting in the den reading the newspaper. “Will you please pick up those papers,” I asked, “and sweep the front steps? They’ll be here soon!”

“Uh . . . ” he grunted, without looking up.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” I shouted as I sprinted upstairs to fix my hair and make-up. Twenty-five minutes later, I looked out the window, and saw a guest’s car in the driveway. “They’re here!”

I heard Ron bustling around in the den as he jumped up from his chair, shoved the papers into the wastebasket, and zipped to the front door with the broom. He was sweeping the porch steps as our guests walked up the sidewalk!

He had no idea why I was upset. Later, when our guests left, I said, “Why didn’t you do what I asked you to do?”

He said, “I did!”

“But you did it when our company was in the driveway!”

“Yeah . . . so? You didn’t say when to do it.”

He was right — I didn’t. I had the expectation that he’d do it as soon as I asked, but I wasn’t specific on my time frame.

Here’s a news flash. Your spouse can’t read your mind!

Now I ask, “Can you do this by 6:00?” or “Will you be able to have this done by Tuesday?” If he can’t do it, he’ll tell me, and then I can either do it myself or make other arrangements.

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Nancy AndersonGuest blogger Nancy C. Anderson is an award-winning author and speaker who loves to teach women and couples to avoid the “Greener Grass Syndrome” by watering their own lawns. Nancy and her husband Ron teach at marriage seminars and banquets. For more information about their speaking schedule and other marriage articles: or their blog


Kathi Lipp is the author of 17 books including Overwhelmed, Clutter Free, The Get Yourself Organized Project, The Husband Project, Happy Habits for Every Couple, and I Need Some Help Here – Hope for When Your Kids Don’t Go According to Plan. She is the host of Clutter Free Academy the Podcast! with Kathi Lipp and speaks at conferences across the US. Kathi is published with Revell Publishers and Harvest House Publishers.

She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.