"He Won't Listen!": What To Do When Your Husband Won't Talk To You
By: Aesha Adams Roberts
The other day a frustrated wife emailed me about what to do when your husband won't talk to you. She's not alone. Communication breakdowns and emotional disconnect are common in marriage. I've invested a lot of time and money learning how to talk to my husband because we realized that we'll never stop learning how to communicate in ways that make sense to each other. That doesn't mean we always get it right.
For example, one spouse might say: "I can't wait to get to bed!" The other thinks: "Oh yeah. It's on baby!" Imagine the hurt feelings, rejection and confusion that results from this breakdown!
Miscommunication is one thing; NO COMMUNICATION is another! So what do you do when your husband won't talk to you? Here are 3 ways to handle it:
1) Gender matters in your approach
Relationship researcher at the Gottman Institute, Dr. Renay P. Cleary Bradley, put it this way: "Women are more likely to bring up issues and to make demands, which men tend to perceive as criticism." Women, she's not saying you ARE demanding; she's saying you can be perceived as demanding. So what do you do? Change your approach. I know you're frustrated because he won't talk, but you need to make things easy for him to open up. It's easier to let go of your hurt feelings, anger and frustration when you remember that growing your relationship is what matters.
Drs. John Townsend and Henry Cloud, authors of the book Boundaries in Marriage suggest these approaches:
- Get feedback on your approach in the past. Ask, "Can you tell me a way that works for you so that we can talk about our issues?" Put the ball in his court, giving him the opportunity and responsiblity to explain what does and doesn't work for him.
- Let him know how you feel: "I feel alone and really disconnected from you because we're not talking about the things that matter in our relationship. I want to feel close to you."
- Talk about your fears: "Sometimes, I'm afraid of how you'll react when we bring up our problems. Do you ever feel like that too?"
The point is to get him talking, even if you're not talking about your problems right now.
2) Set up boundaries
Boundaries communicate what you need and what you expect. You can say to your husband, "I'm in this marriage with you. I'm not going anywhere. But for this to work, I need you to meet me halfway." I recommend the book Boundaries in Marriage for more ways to set up healthy boundaries in your marriage.
3) Get help for deeper issues
Sometimes there's a root issue causing the communication problems, especially if the shutdown has happened unexpectedly. Something could be going on with him personally, emotionally or spiritually. I recommend you get with a good counselor who knows how to handle the spiritual roots of issues. If he doesn't want to go to counseling, ask friends & family to help you find out what the problem is and then encourage him to get some help. If he still won't go, tell him you're going by yourself so that you can learn how to live with a husband who won't talk! Tell him you hope he joins you so you can work as a team, and that you're doing this because the relationship is important to you.
If you need a good counselor who can deal with the spiritual roots of your issues, I recommend Dr. Lavonne Atnip and her husband, Dr. Jack Atnip. They have been married over 50 years, have worked together as counselors for over 30 years, and have a track record of marriage miracles! You can even talk to them over the phone. Get in touch with them by clicking here
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