When They Won't Say Anything

Published on by CMe

 

 

 

When They Won't Say Anything

 
 
   
It can be deeply frustrating to be married to someone that keeps everything to him or herself. It can be a particular sore spot if they keep a tight lid on what's bothering them and choose only to share those things that they are happy about. When your husband or your wife isolates in this fashion, it can feel like it takes an act of Congress to get anything out of them. It can also take an emotional toll on the couple as they struggle to communicate across a vast gulf of all the things they never say.

It can be deeply frustrating to be married to someone that keeps everything to him or herself. It can be a particular sore spot if they keep a tight lid on what's bothering them and choose only to share those things that they are happy about. When your husband or your wife isolates in this fashion, it can feel like it takes an act of Congress to get anything out of them. It can also take an emotional toll on the couple as they struggle to communicate across a vast gulf of all the things they never say.

How to Reach Out?
This may seem unfair, but you may always have to initiate the conversations that focus on the negative aspects of what is going on. You may need to be the one who asks the prodding questions or guides the conversation to the troubling topic. You are not expected to be psychic, by any stretch - but by learning to ask leading questions, you may actually encourage your close-mouthed spouse to open up and share what it is that is bothering them.

It starts with always beginning the conversations with genuine warmth and curiosity. Avoid berating or critical comments. After all, if they are already having trouble opening up to you - giving them a hard time is hardly likely to encourage them to open up. It's also important to remind yourself, that while it may feel like an imposition to always be the one reaching out - you want to know this information you are asking for. You want to feel this connection and they may be so used to rejection that they just don't reach out anymore.

Let's Get the Conversation Started
Questions are a great way to make bids for connection. They invite a response and in many cases require one. Questions can also lack the flavor of broad, general statements and help the two to avoid sweeping generalities in response. For example:
  • Hey sweetie, how was your day at the office?
  • Hi, I found this bowling shirt in the laundry and I was thinking it might be fun to go out this weekend and play a few games for fun - what do you think?
  • Can you get the newspaper or look up online what's playing at the theater that we might both like?
  • You didn't seem to eat much at dinner, are you feeling okay?
  • You look a bit stressed. Why don't you sit down and I'll get us some coffee and you can tell me all about it
  • We need to take care of a few bills tonight, but after the kids go to bed, I don't have any plans - what would you like to do?

These are leading questions, sure and they are a little mundane, but they are specifically designed to get a response. But what if a problem seems to be really plaguing them - asking them about a movie is not going to help that. No, but this is where knowing your spouse comes into play. For example:

  • You've been so quiet - tell me what's wrong, even if I can't help directly, I want to be there for you.
  • I know you are getting frustrated with the finances, let's go over them and talk about ways I can help.
  • It's been crazy this week, I know you're not fond of the Petersons. Why don't I beg off our dinner invite, but we keep the babysitter and get out together somewhere?
  • Babe, I don't know if you noticed this, but you're putting in 12 to 14 hours a day. I'm worried about you - how can I help you get some quality downtime?

These questions and statements are a lot more specific and they are targeting specific issues. They also require a response from your spouse. It may not always work - but you'd be amazed how far just a little compassion and openness can go to getting your spouse to open up about things.

My husband offered one the other day that made me laugh.

  • Him: Stop.
  • Me: What?
  • Him: Just stop.
  • Me: Okay. Why?
  • Him: Because I like to see you, not the blur of you passing by.
  • Me: Oh.
  • Him: Hi.
  • Me: Hi.
  • Him: Can I join you in your blurriness or do I just need to catch you at the rest stops?
  • Laughter

So sometimes, your bids don't have to be serious. You can express your caring and your concern and your need to be there for them with a few simple remarks. How do you reach out to your spouse when they won't tell you what's going on?

 


Illustration from Clyde Mendes column at  MetroSexual LA



 
 

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