Dear Barb – Communication Breakdown

Dear Barb:

My husband and I have been married for two and a half years. He tends to be a very secretive person and rarely talks about his feelings or anything at all really. I knew he was like that when I married him, but, stupid me, I thought things would get better and he would open up more. Everything seems to be fine for months at a time, he seems happy and content and even when I ask him he says he is happy. Then all of a sudden he blows up over something. He hollers and pushes himself around the house and blabbers on like the hulk. Although he has never physically threatened me I find this behaviour very scary, to the point where I am physically shaking. After he calms down I try to talk to him about it and I can see the anger rising in him again and all he says is “yes you are right, whatever!” I am not sure how I can handle this behaviour as there is no talking to him. Help, Christina.

Hi Christina:

You should never be afraid of your partner or anyone for that matter. If someone scares you that much you need to get away from them. I think your husband needs to talk to someone about his anger. You will never be able to express yourself to him because you are always walking on eggshells. That is not a healthy way to live your life. Perhaps he is not happy in your marriage but obviously is unable to express that to you, or possibly he has some past issues that need to be resolved. In any event it is not your problem and if you are going to stay with him he needs to get this resolved. Thanks for writing Christina.

Dear Barb:

My wife and I have been married six years and recently she told me she is not happy and wants to end our marriage. I admit we have problems, but I was shocked when she said this. She says I am too hard for her to deal with! I can’t understand why she would say that, I’m thinking she just doesn’t love me or maybe she has found someone else. We are very different people, I am open and communicative and she is quiet and rarely talks about her feelings. We have been to counseling. It seems for us to stay together we would have to change our basic personalities. I really don’t think that is possible, what do you think? Thanks Carl

Hi Carl:

I think you are right in the sense that you can’t change your basic personality but you can change behaviours. For example, you said she finds you hard to deal with, perhaps through couples counseling and you could discover a different way of interacting that would make it easier for your wife to understand where you are coming from. Sometimes role-playing is helpful in these kinds of situations. Likewise your wife may find a way to open up and express her feelings so you will be able to understand her. I would definitely suggest you both go to counseling before you give up. Thanks for your question Carl.

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