Why Men Stop Communicating In Marriage (And How To Help Him Open Up)

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Why Men Stop Communicating In Marriage (And How To Help Him Open Up)
Love

Communication is one of the most important factors of a successful marriage.

When couples learn how to communicate better, they not only strengthen their relationship — they also solve any relationship issues that threaten to destroy their happy marriage.

RELATED: The #1 Marriage Problem, According To Therapists (And How To Fix It)

But when communication in marriage fades because your husband decided to stop talking to you, problem-solving becomes more difficult.

There is no one reason why your husband won’t talk to you — there are many. Here are 4 common reasons why men stop communicating in their marriage.

1. Biological differences between men and women.

From time immemorial, men have been packaged quite differently than women.

Women have been the chatterers and keepers of the hearth. Men have been the hunters and warriors. Not too much has changed since.

Women still maintain most of the conversation and men want the bottom line. They imbibe an economy of words. Read emails sent by women and compare the number of words from emails sent by men.

This is the way we were biologically and neurologically constructed — women want to solve problems while men solve the problems, or things they consider to be a problem.

Women need resolution and require "working things out." Men are more prone to tuning out, checking out, or numbing out. They prefer to avoid the issues that women find upsetting.

Avoidance is a common denominator among men. Women are far more approachable and require answers for their central nervous system to calm down.

Mark Gungor’s "The Tale of Two Brains," a comedic video on YouTube, exemplifies the differences between the sexes mentioned above.

Basically, we can’t expect a cat to bark anymore than we can expect a dog to meow. It’s the nature of the beast.

There are also books flooded on the bookshelves of bookstores with content filled with information about the differences between the sexes. The bestseller, "Men Are From Mars, And Women Are From Venus" by John Gray depicts the differences very well.

In fact, all you need to do is go on Google and search the differences between men and women — a plethora of books and articles can be found instantaneously.

2. Different communication styles.

If a woman becomes aggressive in her frustration to resolve an issue by getting in her husband’s face and shouting to get his attention, you can be certain that most of the time he will check out and deliver the "silent violence."

His response is like that of a turtle — withdrawing into his shell, constricting himself into sulking, avoiding, or disassociating.

Renowned author and therapist John Gottman defines contempt and stonewalling as two of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — the sure ways to destroy a relationship.

Virginia Satir, a renowned psychotherapist widely regarded as the mother of family therapy, defined four stress styles: Blamer, Placater, Super-Reasonable, and Distractor.

The Blamer castigates blame on the other. The Placater is submissive and subservient to the other, giving in to avoid an argument as to not rock the boat.

The Super-Reasonable goes into their head to avoid feelings and argues their point through reason and logic. And the Distractor cops out with finding something else to talk about.

The personality, history, and filters of each individual determines which stress style of communication works best. None are effective.

Each leads nowhere except to sweep the issue under the carpet until it comes up again, which it always will.

Perhaps, the content might differ but the structure of resolutions is the same. This is when the relational space becomes polluted and the carpet begins to resemble the Swiss Alps.

It soon becomes uncomfortable and we react to the discomfort in the space. When it's not resolved, the relational space becomes dangerous and we react to the danger in the space that was co-created.

The relational space is where you and your husband live and your children play. They learn from you and take what they learn into their future relationships.

3. Timing.

Timing is everything in life — knowing when to hold and when to fold. The last thing you want to do is bring up an issue or complaint the moment he walks in the door after working all day.

There is a time for everything — a time to be born, a time to die, and, in this case, a time to have a discussion.

Your husband has worked hard all day. The day may have been filled with numerous problems that needed to be addressed.

Some may have been resolved, others may still be unresolved, and some may have ensued complications, arguments with no resolution in sight.

The last thing he needs to hear when he comes into his refuge, his home, his family and his favorite chair, is how the air-conditioner broke, or the dog vomited, or one of the kids didn’t do their homework.

Have some empathy for the guy. He needs time to unwind, clear his mind, and relax. Bringing him more adversity will only cause him to shut down or perhaps become angry and aggressive.

Use your good judgment to know when to discuss an issue with him. He’s been problem-solving all day and needs to chill out.

4. Family of origin.

Each of us brings our history and how we grew up into our relationships.

What were our models for healthy relationships? How did our parents resolve conflict? How did we learn about love?

All these questions must be considered and understood to learn how to navigate through our own relationships.

If you grew up in a home where your mother wore the pants and your father never set boundaries and just capitulated to her wants and needs, then it is likely you will do the same. We only know what we know.

If your father played a dominant force in your family of origin, then you might take on the same submissive role as your mother.

Learning how to mitigate issues that arise in your relationship takes skills and tools that you may not have known or have been exposed to. This is when couples counseling can be helpful.

It is important to note that boys are raised differently than girls. Boys are too often told not to cry of not to be afraid.

"Only sissies cry. If you want to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about."

They are shamed for their feelings, so they learn early in life to split off from their feelings. It’s easier to talk about football or fishing than it is to show feelings.

Therapists who are trained in couples' counseling can offer valuable tools to help you resolve conflicts so you can have healthy relationships.

Remember, everyone has a history that is recorded in their neurology. Without consciousness, we tend to repeat what we learned in our families of origin. Doing what comes naturally, is not always healthy.

There is no right and wrong. Learning how to negotiate the differences is what couples' counseling can teach. It is a learned behavior that acquires time, money, and commitment.

Now that you know what can cause a lack of communication between you and your husband, what can you do?

RELATED: Communication Barriers Are One Of The Strongest Indicators Of Divorce, Says Science

To learn how to improve communication skills so you can get a response from him, here are 2 important things to remember.

1. Find a time when there are no distractions to hijack your communication.

Be conscious and mindful of your husband's need to relax and choose a moment when he is receptive.

If you have young children, wait until they are in bed for the night and make a request to your husband to have some time to speak to him and hear his thoughts.

Set the stage where there won’t be any interruptions. For example, you can go out to dinner and find a restaurant that isn’t too noisy where you can hear each other and not be distracted by the chatter of others.

This takes some planning and creativity.

2. Use "I" messages as opposed to "you" messages.

I teach a change model to couples who need it. It takes time to integrate it into your marriage so it doesn't sound staged or scripted. The model requires being conscious and in attunement with your husband.

There are five parts, all with "I" messages that are self-responsible statements, including:

  • Your perception: What you see or hear ("When I heard you shouting at the kids last night...")
  • Your feelings: Anger, sadness, frustration, etc. ("I felt angry and upset...")
  • Your interpretation: What you wonder, fantasize, think, surmise, assume, or imagine ("I imagined that you didn’t take the time to hear their side of the story and became reactive, in that moment.")
  • Your needs: Your desire and wants ("I need you to be more understanding of their side when there is an issue and not so reactive when you haven’t given them an opportunity to share their story.")
  • A contract: An agreement you both commit to uphold ("Can we agree to be more sensitive to their needs instead of jumping to conclusions?")

Of course, in normal conversations, this can be expanded. You want to be careful not to use "you" statements. It’s an invitation to a fight, the very thing you want to avoid.

There are many reasons why your husband won’t talk. It takes a skilled therapist to help you learn ways of achieving the outcome goals you want. However, it takes a big fat "Yes!" from both to effect positive change.

I won’t see any couples that don’t give me that big fat "Yes!" After all, I want to be successful with my couples, so that’s something I require from the get-go! No therapist, no matter how skilled, can be effective without the big fat "Yes!" from each partner.

As Marcel Proust once said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

RELATED: 6 Communication Mistakes Couples Make In Arguments (And How To Fix Them)

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Joan E Childs, LCSW is a renowned psychotherapist, inspirational speaker, and author of "I HATE THE MAN I LOVE: A Conscious Relationship is Your Key to Success" to be released in May, 2020. To learn more about how Encounter-Centered Couples Therapy can renew and restore your relationship, contact Joan.

This article was originally published at joanechilds.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.