He Won’t Talk to Me

Café chat
Photo by Ed Passi

One of the challenging areas in my marriage is conversation. Part of the problem is that we already know so much about each other that there’s little mystery.  

What’s new to talk about that hasn’t already been covered in countless conversations in the past?

Another issue is that I am like the average woman who has a daily word count of about 20,000 in comparison to my very male husband who barely musters around 7000 words per day. Add to that my counselor side that loves to analyze, theorize and super-size every topic of conversation my greedy little counselor mind can evoke. and you’ve got the makings of a very intimidated hubster at times!

Do any of you struggle in your marriage in this way?

I know I’ve used at least 10,000 of my 20,000 daily allotment on several occasions discussing this problem with my female friends, and the consensus is always the same—our male counterparts are sadly “conversation-challenged.”

But conversation is so vitally important to women!

Truth be told, it’s important for men too. It’s important because it strengthens and boosts our friendship factor. We all need to know that our “hearts” are understood, known and liked by our spouses.

Very often conversation is the first thing to go in a marriage—pushing marriages ever closer to messiness and mayhem.

So here’s what I’ve done to tackle this problem in my marriage:

  • Practice – conversation is a skill, and like any skill, it takes practice. As you practice, you stretch your “conversation muscles” (yes, guys, this is an area where strength training needs to be applied as well!), making it easier to converse more proficiently next time.
  • Ask Questions – Instead of thinking you must fix the problem your wife is having or feeling you must tell your hubby all about your day, consider asking him/her a question. I’ve provided some helpful questions to get you started here.
  • Use a Cheat Sheet – Yes, there really is a cheat sheet for conversation in the form of various books of questions. Here are a couple I recommend: The Complete Book of Questions and 101 Conversation Starters for Couples. Have them handy at the dinner table or take them with you on a date.
  • Schedule Times to Connect – My husband and I have a weekly “Talk Time,” as well as, setting aside much face-to-face time on our day off. This investment has really helped our marriage. We need to schedule daily times to connect as well … something we’re not quite as successful with yet … but we’re a working on it!

So what do you do to keep the conversation muscles strong with your spouse?

What seems to get in the way of making this a priority in your marriage?

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Linking up with NOBH, Playdates with God, and Matrimonial Monday

  • GailBP

    My husband was not much of a communicator when we were first married, and he still isn’t one to talk a lot. But I found that telling him I wanted to know his opinion and how he was feeling helped. And, for our marriage, it was important that I ask for conversation when we were both having fun, even sometimes after we’d been intimate. I think that helped him see the love connection in conversation. But good questions are really important too. And good listening.

  • Lori

    Dr. Gary Chapman suggests this — each day commit to share three things that happened and how they made you feel. When you go beyond just the facts, and start sharing feelings, you let each other into your worlds, and that builds your relationships.Thanks for starting the conversation here 🙂 Blessings from Be Not Weary

  • JosephPote

    Oh yes! It’s a struggle, at times.
    Interestingly, some of the gender roles seem reversed in my marriage. I’m the writer and over-analyzer who wants to talk everything out to a point of full closure…
    …whereas my wife is much more intuitive and doesn’t feel the need to keep analyzing issues…
    Thanks for the conversation tips, Beth!

  • this is good stuff! we seem to let everybody and everything intrude on these precious moments and steal away the energy that our spouse needs and deserves.
    it’s good to be more purposeful in connecting. put down what we’re doing, look each other right in the eyes, and be truly present to this one we’ve committed our lives to …
    thanks!

  • messymarriage

    That’s a great tip, Gail. Many times our mates need to be “invited” to share. And choosing the right time to talk is equally as important. I’ve learned that over the years with my hubby too. I find that some of the best conversations we’ve had have been in the car on a longer trip–where there’s no distractions and “nothing better to do.” haha! Thanks for coming by and encouraging me!

  • messymarriage

    Yes, it’s good to have these simple rituals that we practice with one another. We often do this with our boys at meal times and have found it to be helpful. Although, to be honest, my boys suffer from the same “conversation-challenge” tendency that their father does. 🙂 Thanks so much for coming by and weighing in, Lori!

  • messymarriage

    I think my husband is probably a lot like you, Joe. If he has a topic on “his” mind or an issue he wants to talk through, he’s all in. But finding those times can be a challenge for us–especially when something is bugging me. And talking about “feelings” is the worst! ha! Thanks for your kind words and for coming by, my friend. Always appreciate the male perspective around here! 🙂

  • messymarriage

    It’s so easy to let life “steal” these moments, as you’ve said, Linda. I know we have to work at this or it simply gets overtaken by life. Thanks for your encouragement, friend. I really appreciate it!

  • soulstops

    Great reminder, Beth…one thing that we like to ask each other each day is to share a highlight/what you’re thankful for today, and then one thing that was difficult, or not so easy to be thankful for….it is definitely a work in progress: the art of conversation 🙂

  • Gary

    One thing that I think I could (and should) do a much better job of leading out on is to use my daily quiet time thought from God as a catalyst for a discussion starter with my wife. Today, my personal challenge from Matthew 13:44-45 is: Be RELENTLESS! Seek the kingdom of heaven (God & His way in your life) with every ounce of your soul. Hold nothing back. It’s worth all you’ve got! Who knows what great conversations could emerge from the seed of a divine dialogue?

  • Ugochi Jolomi

    Same here Joseph, my husband is the talker while I am… you… know the hopefully listener- gender role reversal, lol!

  • messymarriage

    Those are great questions, Dolly. Thanks so much for coming by and for adding to the discussion. I appreciate you!

  • Ugochi Jolomi

    Hi Beth, just like Joseph, my husband does most of the talking and try to keep up with listening and responding. I am trying to learn to talk a lot more cause he does not like my silence at all!

  • messymarriage

    Yes, that’s a great place to start and provides endless possible directions for the conversation to go. And I guess we can discuss your thought more thoroughly tonight! Thanks for commenting! Love you!

  • messymarriage

    Yes, listening skills involve building “muscles” that must be strengthened as well, Ugochi. Most people were not taught by our parents or by the schools we attended, how to be better listeners, so I hope these questions are a great starting point for you to ask of your husband and for him to ask of you–since you have more difficulty opening up. 🙂 Thanks so much for coming by and joining the “conversation.”

  • Finding regular times for meaningful conversation is hard! Thanks for these ideas and the encouragement to make it a priority. We try to have regular date nights which helps:)

  • Oh, YES! I love the term “conversation muscle”- this makes me feel like a tri-athlete 🙂 Just last week my k-gartner told his teacher that his mom was “a professional talker” 🙂

    As far as marriage goes, I am one lucky woman- my man spends all day listening well to females- and he just “gets us”.. so I have an amazing conversationalist on my hands when he’s around.

    I keep practicing that thing called “listening”, though. Would love my kids to one day describe their mom as a “professional listener!”

    Thanks for always providing practical encouragement here, Beth.

  • JosephPote

    LOL! Glad to know I’m not the only one! Thanks, Ugochi!

  • messymarriage

    Yes it is, Christina. 🙂 I’m glad to hear you make dating a priority. That’s something that my hubby and I do too, but it’s much easier now that our boys are older and don’t need baby sitters anymore. Thanks for coming by and encouraging!

  • messymarriage

    Well, now you can add another term to your relationship resume – Conversation Tri-Athlete! I like it, Alicia!

    All envy aside, I’m so glad to hear you have a hubby that knows how to converse proficiently with you. And we’ll both have to get busy “working-out” our listening muscles. It’s a skill I’m still trying to perfect. 🙂 Thanks so much for your sweet encouragement, friend!

  • My husband and I are both therapists but it causes opposite effects: he says he has talked all day and needs some down time, I need to talk to process through my day. I love your advice here, Beth–especially the books on conversation starters–who knew?

    One thing my husband loves is to learn new things, so I have found that when we are both learning and growing our conversations are richer too.

    But I might have to try some of those conversation starters to get my two sons going…

  • I like the weekly “talk time” idea. We found that when you take the kids and work off the table as topics, it leaves little for conversation. Having topics ready, interesting stories, and ideas can lead to fun conversations, like the kind we all used to have when we were daring and could just talk all night. 🙂

    What gets in our way is sheer busyness, and not making that time together a priority.

  • rboerner

    I just purchased the 101 Conversations book for my iPhone. Now when he thinks I’m playing on my phone, I’ll be secretly looking for a new conversation to start. I’m so excited! Over Thanksgiving weekend, we were driving home from St. Louis and everyone is always so quiet in the car. I mean NO conversation. It makes me crazy. So I made the suggestion that we should start playing a game where we just blurt out “Hey Chris or Hey Tyler or Hey Becky – WHAT ARE YOU THINKING RIGHT NOW?” It might just be “wow there are a lot of trees on this road” but who knows it could be something a little more. Hoping it sparks a little more conversation. 🙂 Thanks for the suggestions!

  • messymarriage

    Yes, when my husband and I go to conferences together, we have endless, rich conversations about all the new things we are learning. I can totally relate to that, Laura. And since I have all boys too, it really has been a challenge at our dinner table. But the book has come in handy as an informal way to get them talking. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • messymarriage

    Yes, busyness can steal away those very important moments in marriage–when we should be connecting our hearts. We’ve been scheduling the “Talk Time” for about 13 or 14 years now. I really think it’s one major factor in turning our messy marriage into a healthier marriage, Kim. Thanks so much for coming by and always encouraging!

  • messymarriage

    I haven’t thought about putting it on my phone, Becky. That’s a great idea, since you can have it handy wherever you go! I like your game idea too, although Bill and Pam Farrell claim that men have an “empty” box in their brains–so you might ask your hubby what he’s thinking and the reply would be “nothing.” 😉 But it’s still a great conversation muscle builder. I’d say keep on persevering in your pursuit to know your hubby better. The dividends will be evident in no time! Thanks to “you” for your constant encouragement, my friend!