A common complaint marriage counselors come across from women is that their husbands “just won’t talk” to them. Curiously enough, these very husbands might have been scintillating conversationists during the early days of dating and marriage. So what really makes men go through a “near deaf experience” when their wives want to share something with them and how to deal with a husband who simply won’t talk to you.
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Men and women are different. Some behavior experts believe that men and women have different ways of perceiving conversation. While women talk to share information as well as thoughts and feelings, men primarily use it to prove their superior knowledge or as a way of creating a good impression on the hearer. This is why your husband may have been an interesting person to talk to when you were dating while now all you can get from him by a way of response is a grunt. Even though not all experts believe that men and women are genetically wired to converse differently, the way the two sexes perceive the purpose of conversation generally differs.
Get the timing right
If you cannot get your husband to talk to you, see if you are picking the wrong moment. Your husband may be preoccupied with office matters, family problems or be actually tired when he returns home. So if you launch into a verbal tirade the moment he walks in, he is unlikely to respond and may even get irritated. Wait until he has a shower and his dinner and then proceed to share your day when he is more relaxed.
Use the correct approach
If you want your husband to respond to your verbal overtures, make sure you start the conversation the right way. Instead of using an accusing tone to begin, make the conversation an equable exchange of thoughts and feelings. A thumb rule is to avoid beginning sentences with a capital ‘YOU’, for instance, “YOU don’t listen to me anymore”. Rather express your own perceptions like “ I would feel much more loved if you gave me your attention”. Also avoid using absolute terms like ‘always’ and ‘never’ in sentences like “You always switch on the TV when I want to talk to you”. Phrases like these will only make your husband defensive and not get the discussion anywhere.
Stick to the present
If your husband has been giving you the silent treatment for quite some time, you may feel the urge to express a whole lot of grievances that has built up within you. However it does not solve any purpose to drag up past issues and start with the time when your husband forgot to pick you from your sister’s two years back. Rather focus on the here and now when you talk so that you are able to bring about a meaningful exchange of present thoughts and feelings.
Put it in writing
Often an effective way to get your husband to open up is to use an unexpected way of communication. Write him a tender note telling him how much you love him and how happy you would feel if you both could share some thoughts now and then. There are also certain practical advantages of putting your thoughts in writing. A letter, for instance will give you more time to think about what exactly you want to convey and you can redo it if you don’t like it the first time. So tuck in a love message in your husband’s lunch box and you may find him more willing to open up the next time you ask him about his day.
Show interest in his work and pursuits
Men often dread the ‘talk’ their wives want to have because it usually means splitting hair on relationship issues. If you want your husband to be more forthcoming, then show an interest in his work and hobbies without turning these into a platform to talk about your relationship. Ask him about his job and co-workers or how far his golf has improved. At first, your partner may balk at these efforts but then he is sure to be glad of your interest and may even take you to his club the next time he goes to practice his squash. Build a level of comfort and trust with these initial steps after which you can approach him on other serious matters.
Take definite steps, if required
Despite your understanding and initiative, if you find your husband repeatedly withdrawing from having a meaningful talk, perhaps it is time to be firm. Switch off the TV or gently lower the pages of a newspaper if your husband is using these to avoid a conversation. Let him know that as his wife, you deserve some of his attention. However don’t take an aggressive stance as this might raise the other person’s hackles.
Consider other issues
If you find that even after repeated and sincere attempts on your part, you cannot get through to your husband, try to think if any of your actions has hurt him deeply. Have you perhaps been unfaithful to him or betrayed his trust in any way? Your husband’s silence may be a way of withdrawing from you due to real or perceived fault on your part. If so, addressing the root of the matter may help to resolve issues between the two of you.
Use non-verbal means
Talking to your husband is not the only way of communicating with him. Use small gestures to show him how much you love him and how much your relationship means to you. After he returns home from a busy day at work, greet him with a loving hug. Or pick up his favorite magazine on your way home from work. These gestures will make him feel loved and make him more open to a cozy post-dinner chat with you.
A husband hiding behind the pages of a newspaper when his wife wants to have a “talk” is the butt of much popular humor. But it need not be that way with your marriage. With patience and understanding, you can engage your husband in a meaningful conversation which is one of the best ways to effectively communicate with your partner and keep a marriage healthy.