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If there is one thing I have heard more than anything else, one struggle, one question, one topic that comes up more than any other topic it is this: How to get your husband to open up and talk to you when you can barely hold a conversation without either fighting, or just not being able to get his attention.
We keep hearing time and time again that communication is key to a happy marriage, but there is so much more to it than that. Sometimes communication is difficult, and there’s not a lot we can do about it. But when we let general life, stress, kids, work get in the way, we tend to put our marriage on the back burner and the first thing to fail is our communication.
BUT… it’s not all doom and gloom.
You can start to open up the lines of communication again and get back to being able to talk and chat and have a great time. It’s not going to happen right away and it does take both people to communicate, but there are strategies you can use that will help both of you reach the level of communication you’re after.
Do keep in mind that while these are things you can do, these are general and not specific to your marriage and your individual concerns.
I wholeheartedly believe all couples should go to counselling whether they are having problems or not and this is why – marriage counsellors are experts in communication in marriage and can help you ‘service’ your relationship in the same way you’d service your vehicle. You’d never wait until your car had broken down before you took it for a service, so why do the same for your marriage?
However, this is a good place to start and might just be exactly what you need to start communicating again.
Adjust Your Expectations
This is something that needs to be done before going any further. You need to adjust and create realistic expectations of what communication you’re going to receive and when.
If your husband hasn’t been talking, or if he generally isn’t a talkative person, don’t expect the flood gates to open and he will talk to you about everything. But, you might find that slowly you start to relax around each other more and conversation flows easier.
These things take time. You didn’t all of a sudden stop communicating so you’re not all of a sudden going to get it back.
It can be frustrating because we feel it’s easy – just talk to me!! But taking your time, adjusting your expectations and allowing the conversation to happen at a slower pace can take some of the pressure off all round.
Converse On His Terms
While you may want him to talk to you about certain things, in a certain way, pay attention to how he communicates. Are there things you can pick up on without him saying anything?
Also, while you may be the kind of person who spares no detail in your conversations, he may take some time to warm up and give the bare-bones basics. That’s okay. It’s a step in the right direction.
You might find it frustrating having to meet him where he is at in the communication world, and you may feel like you’re doing it already, but really take some time to self reflect and ask yourself, are you communicating on his terms, or are you expecting him to communicate on yours?
This isn’t about who is right and who is wrong. Pride has no place here. This is about being able to meet your partner where they are at and have a conversation, even if it is on his terms.
A great way to do this is to find out what yours and his Love Language is (and doing this quiz together can be a great conversation starter too!!). The 5 Love Languages were created by Gary Chapman and outline 5 different methods or languages we use to give and receive love. For example, you might need to be told ‘I love you’ to feel love, because your Love Language is Words of Affirmation, but your husbands Love Language may be acts of service, and when he washes and refuels your car for you, that is his way of saying ‘I love you’.
It’s literally like speaking different languages and getting frustrated when they don’t understand.
Take the quiz and start talking to each other about your results. It can completely change the way you communicate.
Don’t Be So Serious
One of my favourite quotes ever is ‘don’t take life too seriously, you’ll never make it out alive’. It always reminds me to find fun and joy in the things I do and the relationships I have, and to just not be so darn serious all the time.
The same can be applied to your marriage.
When you step back and look at the escalation that leads to not talking, usually it’s because stress or life kicks in, and when that happens we stop talking and we get more serious, which leads to only trying to talk about serious things, which we don’t want to do because we already have enough stress so we avoid talking… and then before you know it, there’s no communication, and there’s no fun. Ouch.
If you find yourself only ever going to talk about serious things, then it’s going to be hard to try and get your husband to talk to you. Instead, change it up and have some fun with your conversations.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t discuss serious topics, that would be a disaster in your marriage. But you shouldn’t only discuss serious topics.
You can download our free conversation starters checklist which has over 100 questions you can ask each other that are fun and will help you get the conversation flowing.
Change Your Location
When was the last time you got out of the house together and just spent time somewhere else? Simple things like going for a walk together, or going out to dinner somewhere, or just spending a day together outside of the house and away from work can make a big difference.
Our environment influences how we feel and how we interact, so if you’ve always tried communicating at home, and it has become a stressful environment to communicate in (or tense, or uneasy), then your communication attempts may not be as welcome as they would be somewhere else.
One of our favourite places to just sit and chat is at the local cafe with a drink over lunch. It’s such a relaxing atmosphere, with the kids being entertained by the play area, and being able to sit outside in the sunshine just energises and makes us feel so much better about everything.
Take some time to change the scenery, change your environment and see if that makes a difference in how you communicate.
Ask For What You Want
Despite our biggest wishes otherwise, men can’t actually read out minds. Alarming, I know. Which is why it is so important to be clear about what you want.
One of the biggest frustrations I have is when someone is talking to me about the communication issues in their relationship, and they explain the situation and they just expect that their husband is picking up on their ‘subtle clues’ (aka snarky remarks) about what they want.
If you are playing games in your relationship like giving the silent treatment, or saying things like ‘well, you figure it out’ (seriously, this was one person’s response to every question her husband had and she couldn’t work out why he wouldn’t talk to her) then you need to stop right now.
If you’re married then you’re an adult who can make adult decisions and as such you need to communicate your needs and your expectations and your wants clearly. Sometimes it’s not easy to do, but playing games is not going to get you there.
If you want to talk to your husband about a particular topic or a particular issue then tell him. Say it straight up, “I want to talk to you about *this*, can we chat?” If he says no, or if he isn’t open to talking about it, then follow up with how important it is to you and be clear on when you want to chat about it by – “I’d really like to talk to you about *this* before next week, when you’re ready to chat can you please let me know.”
Being clear about what you want also sets up the expectation that you want clear communication in return.
Getting your husband to open up and talk to you doesn’t have to be as difficult as it might sound. It may take time, and it will take effort, but once those lines of communication are open again you’ll be much more aware of what it is that closes them down, and how to avoid it.
I created a video with more information about how to get your husband talking and the lines of communication open again, you can see it here: