Dear Barb – The Quiet One

Dear Barb:

My husband and I have been married four years and it is mostly going well. Problems arise when I try to talk to him about things he doesn’t want to talk about. Sometimes he will give me a short answer and claim he doesn’t have anything else to say. If I try to get more information to find out how he feels about something then he gets mad and erupts, yelling and screaming. I find this so frustrating! I rarely talk to him about anything anymore because of this. I am a communicator and I need to talk about family, friends, the future, the past, everything, it helps me to feel connected to another person. I fear if this continues we will grow so far apart that we won’t have a relationship anymore other than sharing the same house. My husband says everything is fine and this is my problem not his and that he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. Am I supposed to just accept this? It doesn’t seem right to me. Helpless Hanna.

Hi Hanna:

This is a very common issue in many relationships. As you know men and women are very different people. Studies have shown that men speak 12,000 words a day while women speak more than 25,000 words per day. There are many reasons why husbands don’t talk to their wives. For example, they simply don’t know what to say. Some men don’t think too deeply about things, therefore they really have nothing to contribute to a conversation. Men who don’t think deeply about things probably have some difficulty expressing themselves and may fear being misunderstood and causing even more problems. Also they may not want to rock the boat. Men often try to maintain the peace and assume the best way to do that is to remain silent. Women often think about their relationships and how they can make them better, this is not an issue most men ponder. As well, some men don’t want to talk about their feelings because they don’t want to appear weak. Some of the reasons why your husband chooses not to talk may also be related to your responses to him. For example, if a man has difficulty expressing himself, he may fear that you will laugh at his awkwardness. You may simply talk too much and he can’t get a word in edgewise, or when he does talk, you constantly interrupt him and he feels you are not listening, so why continue talking? If you are attempting to talk to your husband while sports are on TV, you most likely will get a quick answer, if that. These are some of the reasons men don’t talk, but in addition there may be underlying problems in your relationship, but since you said your relationship is generally good, I would assume that this is not the case in your situation. You cannot expect your husband to become an eloquent conversationalist overnight, any more than he can expect you to keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself. Perhaps you can spend more time with your girlfriends discussing things. If this situation with your husband is totally unacceptable to you, perhaps you could investigate some couple enrichment classes in your area. Thanks for your letter Hanna; I’m sure many people will be able to relate to your situation.

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