The kids are in bed. There’s nothing on TV tonight. I ask my husband if he minds if I turn the tube off. He grunts.
As I walk to the set, my mind is racing. Maybe, just maybe tonight we’ll talk. I mean, we’ll have a conversation that consists of more than my usual questions and his mumbled one-word answers... or no answer at all.
Silence—I live in a world of continuous noise, but between him and myself, silence. Please—O God, let him open up. I initiate (once again, for the thousandth time). My heart pounds—oh, how can I word it this time? What can I say that will open the door just to talk? I don’t have to have a deep meaningful conversation. Just something!
As I open my mouth—he gets up and goes to the bedroom. The door closes behind him. The crack of light showing under the door gives way to darkness. So does my hope…
This excerpt is quoted from Now We’re Talking! Robert and Pamela Crosby.
According to Dr. Willard Harley’s website and his book, His Needs Her Needs if you’re a woman, you have a strong need for meaningful conversation with your spouse at the feeling level. Intimacy, or "in-to-me-see," is vitally important to the health of your marriage. So what should you do when your husband is pre-occupied or seems disinterested in talking?
His Silence = His Stress
First, understand the male need to silently mull over problems alone. When your man is emotionally distant, like a growly bear, it’s likely he has retreated to his “cave.” His lack of engagement is not a reflection of a lack of love for you but rather, it’s an indication of how much stress he feels. The most supportive thing you can do for him at these times is to do something that makes you happy—like calling your girlfriends, going shopping, or taking a bubble bath. When your husband’s stress has lessened and he sees that you are smiling, he’ll be more likely to initiate a conversation. Why? Because your happiness makes your husband happy. Remember that your man wants so much to please you. If you appear unhappy (with frowns or tears) he will probably feel he has somehow failed you. So the next time your “bear” goes into hibernation, do something counterintuitive. Try luring him out of his cave with the honey of your warm and welcoming smiles.
The Art of Asking Questions
Let’s say it’s Saturday night you and your husband have scheduled a date. You’re both feeling relaxed and the talk begins to flow. You can take your conversation to a deeper level by asking some great pre-planned questions. Keep the following pointers in mind before you dive in.
● Begin in the shallow end of the pool and then wade deeper.
● Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” and “no.”
● Ask for your husband’s opinion about something. Few men can resist the opportunity to pontificate!
● Ask feeling questions eg. “How did you feel about xyz…” instead of “What did you think about xyz…”
● Be specific eg. “What made you feel successful today?” instead of “How was your day?”
● Make use of the “pregnant pause.” Don’t be afraid to wait a few minutes in silence while your spouse thinks through his response.
● Avoid asking “why?” questions. They can quickly move your conversation from a feeling level to a defensive thinking level.
15 Great Questions to Ask Your Husband
Now We’re Talking! by Robert and Pamela Crosby (updated version is called Creative Conversation Starters For Couples) and The Ungame (a board game where everyone wins) both offer lists of excellent questions you can try on your spouse. Now We’re Talking! offers suggested questions about Favorites, Fun, Fond Memories, Family, Friends, Feelings, Finances, Failures, Fears, the Future, and Faith. Following are some questions from The Ungame, “the world's most popular communication game.” Read the reviews of this classic game here.
2. What would you like to be remembered for after
3. Describe a happy family.
4. What activity do you engage in that involves all of you: your mind, body, and soul?
5. Give three words to describe how you feel right now.
6. In what ways do you act like a child?
7. Share a time when your feelings were hurt.
8. Thinking back, what can you identify as a turning point in your life?
9. What do you want to be doing in ten years.
10. Complete the statement: “One thing I missed during my childhood was…”
11. Complete the statement: “A new world opened up to me when…”
12. Share one of the happiest days of your life.
13. If you were told you only had one week to live—how would you spend it?
14. What makes you sad?
15. Share something that you fear.
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10 NIV)
Ask me anything. Go Ahead. It's your turn to ask ME a question!
Photos courtesy of Squonk11 and thokrates (Flickr)