Question: My husband is somewhat insensitive to my needs, but I believe he is willing to do better if I can teach him how I am different from him. Can you help me communicate my needs to him effectively?

Dr Dobson: First, let me tell you how not to handle this arrangement. Do not resort to what I would call “bludgeoning technique,” which includes an endless barrage of nagging, pleading, scolding, complaining and accusing.

Here’s an example of how that approach sounds to an exhausted man who has come home from work moments before: “Won’t you put down that newspaper, George, and give me five minutes of your time? Five minutes- is that too much to ask? You never seem to care about my feelings, anyway. How long has it been since we went out for dinner? Even if we did, you’d probably take the newspaper along with you. I’ll tell you George. Sometimes, I think you don’t care about me and the kids anymore. If once, just once, you would show a little love and understanding, I would drop dead from sheer shock.”

Obviously that is not the way to get George’s attention. Instead, you should look for opportunities to teach you husband during moments of closeness and understanding. That instruction requires the proper timing, setting and manner to be effective.

1. Timing: Select a moment when you husband is typically more responsive and pleasant. Perhaps that will occur immediately after an evening meal, or when the light goes out at night, or in the freshness of the morning.

The worst time of the day is during the first 60 minutes after he has arrived home from work- yet this is the usual combat hour. Don’t lumber into such a heavy debate without giving it a proper planning and forethought, taking advantage of every opportunity for the success of the effort.

  1. Setting: The ideal situation is to ask your husband to take you on an overnight or weekend trip to a pleasant area. If it isn’t possible to get away, the next best alternative is to obtain a baby-sitter and go out to breakfast alone. If that is out of the question, then select a time at home when the children are occupied and the phone can be taken off the hook.

Generally speaking, however, the farther you can get him from home, with its cares and problems and stresses, the better your chance will be to achieve genuine communication.

  1. Manner: It is extremely important that your husband does not view your conversation as a personal attack. We are all equipped with emotional defenses which rise to our aid when we are being vilified. Don’t trigger those defense mechanisms.

Instead, your manner should be warm, loving and as supportive as possible under the circumstances. Let it be known that you are attempting to interpret your needs and desires, while taking his emotional state into consideration. Postpone the conversation if he is under unusual stress from his work, or if he isn’t feeling well, or if he has recently been stung by circumstances and events.

Then when the timing and manner converge to produce a moment of opportunity, express you deep feelings as effectively as possible.

Question: So you think children between the ages of five and ten should be allowed to listen to rock music on the radio?

Dr. Dobson: No. Rock music is an expression of an adolescent culture.

The words of teenagers’ songs deal with dating, broken hearts, drug usage and love-love-love. This is just what you don’t want your 7-year-old thinking about.

Instead, his world of excitement should consist of adventure books, Disney-type productions and family activities- camping, fishing, sporting events, games, etc.

On the other hand, it is unwise to appear dictatorial and oppressive in such matters. I would suggest that you keep your preteen so involved with wholesome activities that he does not need to dream of the days to come.