Spouse Won’t Talk to You? Here are Some Tips for Marriage Communication Help

February 14, 2011 · Print This Article

One of the most frustrating marriage problems for couples tends to be communication within the marriage. Couples sometimes feel they need marriage communication help or marriage counseling to get back on track with one another. And although marriage counseling may be the right solution, I would like to offer some advice to consider trying first.

Typically, communication problems for wives stem from when their spouse has difficulty confiding and sharing. Comments like “my husband won’t talk to me” are a common symptom of communication problems within a marriage. These comments are also indicators that getting help to work through the problems could be important to consider.

It doesn’t matter if it is a major or minor topic, many women share during marriage counseling and therapy sessions that they feel extremely anxious and alone when their husbands have difficulty in providing the level of communication needed. After years of experiencing rejection, wives sometimes report feeling abandoned, and in the worst of situations, believe they need help for a broken marriage.

Intimate marriages where both partners feel a strong and close communication connection and are able to confide in one another, frequently have two processes at work. The first is gentleness and the second is acceptance. Intimate marriages have an “emotional intimacy barometer.” In most of these marriages, the wife is the monitor of the emotional intimacy levels. This is a wonderful, intuitive gift for knowing when the emotional distance between two people is too much and often leads to the wife attempting to draw the husband to be closer emotionally. The wife often brings something to her husband in an attempt to reconnect and open communication. When her attempt is met with acceptance, love, and open arms by her husband, the balance of closeness and distance begins to be restored. When her attempt at improving communication within the marriage is met with rejection by her husband, ignoring, or even belligerence, closeness continues to erode and intimacy embarks upon a slow death. A broken marriage can sometimes be the end result.

My advice is first for the men reading this: Meet your spouse’s needs for communication, ANY kind of discussion, with responsiveness. Instead of lecturing or providing all the reasons why something is the way it is, or the pros and cons of it, give your spouse a compliment and focus on her strengths. Appreciate that she is coming to you, confiding in you, sharing…communicating. Let her know you hear her.  It can be something like “Thanks for bringing this up” or “I am really glad I have you to pay attention to these things.”  Next, find something in what she is saying that makes sense and you agree with.  Ask for more of her thoughts on the matter. I guarantee she has lots to say on the issue. Value her and all that she brings to the table!

Advice for wives: Timing of the communication is everything! How you say it is as important as when you say it!  Gently approach your spouse and ask if it is a good time to talk about something important. Don’t accept ignoring! If this happens, simply state, “After X” or “in 10 minutes” I want to get your opinion and thoughts on Y. Be specific with the topic and stay with one topic – gently. Believe me when I tell you that husbands can get easily overwhelmed and can have a difficult time tracking multiple topics. Stay with one topic and only one topic. That will be enough for your spouse to digest at one time.  And, the same expressions of appreciation apply, but in a way that embraces communication, such as “I really appreciate you listening to me. It makes me love you and be more attracted to you every time you do it. Thanks.”

These communication tips won’t solve every marriage problem. However, I encourage you to give them a try for at least three to six months. No less. If there is a setback in communication, think about how you can make it better next time rather than what your spouse needs to do different. And, if it does not go so well, be the first to extend an olive branch and say “I am sorry for…Can we try again?”

You are always welcome to call our team of highly-trained professionals at Stein Counseling and Consulting if you ever feel that you and your spouse could benefit from unbiased and impartial marriage counseling. We have helped many married couples eliminate the feelings of living in a broken marriage. Some marriage counseling successes can be:

  • Increase intimacy and closeness in a relationship
  • Build a culture of praise and appreciation
  • Increase teamwork in a marriage
  • Solve challenging problems of communication, sexual relationships, finances, co-parenting, household chores, fun and recreation, in-laws, religious differences, and intimacy

Communication problems are normal and seeking advice from someone with experience can oftentimes be the right solution to getting a marriage back on track. Call us…we would be happy to help.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Comments

88 Responses to “Spouse Won’t Talk to You? Here are Some Tips for Marriage Communication Help”

  1. tstein on November 11th, 2013 4:06 am

    Sonia
    I am sorry for your suffering. When spouses are confronted about an affair, anything other than the truth is an attempt to shift the blame and focus away from the issue at hand. They often blame and get angry at the partner for snooping. When you ask about hope, right now it seems as if you are the one committed to making the marriage work while your spouse remains contemplative. Counseling can help you. Marriage therapy cannot be helpful when one spouse continues to have an affair, meaning it can’t make the marriage better. While some therapists will do marriage therapy while one spouse is having an affair, I am not one of them. It is just too difficult and the spouse having the affair uses any problems in the marriage as an excuse rather than making a good faith effort at making the marriage better. It can help partners decide whether or not to terminate the marriage. I suggest finding a good counselor for yourself to help you through this most difficult time. I have worked with the non-adulterous spouse while the other spouse is having an affair to make the marriage better and work to draw their spouse back from the dark side. It takes a lot of support, patience, faith, and forgiveness.
    T

  2. tstein on November 11th, 2013 4:26 am

    Hi Chyanna
    Most problems at the point you are married does lie in communication. Often, the problems lie in one of the following areas: (1) the initial approach and bid for connection (2) using criticisms, withdrawing, contempt, or defensiveness (3) lack of expressed appreciations or (4) tackling too many problems at once. My guess is when you say he “hears something he does not like he shuts down” is a criticism as that is consistent with what I see in my office. Then he retreats and there is most likely no repair for the initial issue and you still need help. Next time this happens, wait about 20 minutes, then re-approach and GENTLY say, “I am really missing you and need some help. I need for you to…” and tell him specifically what tasks you would like him to do. After he does it, be certain to let him know how much you appreciate his help. I joke that husbands respond well do tactics similar to obedience training for dogs: stay short and sweet with commands and reward/praise when they do something right. Works 90% of the time!! Avoid nagging and complaining (although justified) as much as you can. You will motivate him more in this manner than criticizing him for never helping!
    T

  3. Katie on November 15th, 2013 6:19 pm

    My husband and I are 25. Married at 23. We were perfect until I grew up.. Handled bills, groceries, cooking, cleaning, working 40 hours per week. He liked to drink his problems away and I wanted to talk. Wasn’t happening. Here we are 2 years later and it’s worse. He refuses to talk to me about anything of importance and has been unfaithful a few times promising it would never happen again and he would change. Again, empty promises. I am in a masters program for social work as well as working at a residential treatment center. Even I can’t help our situation. Lost and confused..

  4. tstein on November 16th, 2013 4:42 am

    Hi Katie
    I am sorry to hear about your situation, especially only two years into the marriage. Interesting description about “growing up” as we know from research that a males frontal lobe (executive system = sober second thought system) does not fully develop until 25 to 27 years of age and females sooner. I have a hunch that things weren’t always so perfect but you were in stage one of marriage which is “passion prevails” when a couple is passionate and the feel good chemicals are on override in the brain. This then leads to the inevitable crash and stage two which is “what was I thinking?!”. You are clearly questioning his commitment to the marriage and describe him as still living the single life in many ways. I strongly would encourage you to seek couples counseling as these are major problems only a short time into the marriage. You clearly are strong, committed and know what you want and expect in your marriage. Keep those expectations! If he refuses to go, seek a competent marriage therapist on your own and they can help you come up with a plan to get him to join you. Be certain to check out our article on choosing a therapist. T

  5. selina on December 27th, 2013 6:47 am

    my husband and i have been together for 10 years and married for 4. He was previously married and still takes care of his ex wife,they have no kids together but share custody of their 2 dogs. What i dont understand is that everytime the ex calls he wont divulge the contents of the call. Whenever he sends groceries to her he sometimes take our kids with him and she acts all lovey dovey with him kissing him infront of my kids knowing fully well that they will tell me. When i confront my husband he said she caught him off guard and she was doing it to get to me. That she did! What’s worse is my husband being angry with me for not trusting him and making our kids to spy on him. I mean its like i cant catch a break. I have since stopped him from taking my kids to his ex’s place. He holds that against me everytime we fight. I really need help with this because it is ruining my marriage. I just dont get it. Why is he so defensive over this matter? Pls help me understand,

  6. tstein on December 30th, 2013 2:38 am

    Hi Selina
    I understand your frustration. It feels to you as if he is keeping secrets from you and makes you wonder why would he want to protect this area of his life from you! You are not feeling very reassured by him through this and of course, are trying to be the “bigger person” but this is like a thorn in your side. There are two reasons I can think of for his behavior. 1) He feels like you don’t trust him and when you ask him questions, he feels interrogated and withdraws OR 2) there may still be a connection between the two of them and he is having a hard time setting limits on the relationship. From what you write, it sounds like number 1 is more likely. He wants to know that you trust him and that he loves you and he would never do anything to jeopardize the relationship. Sometime when women ask men questions showing interest, the men take it as an interrogation. Changing the frame of the picture on how YOU approach this is important. His upset about not letting him take the kids suggest he has nothing to hide in his mind. Giving him context of your questions first is important. “Honey, I love you and trust you more than anything. When I am asking you questions about what you and (ex) talk about, I want you to know it is me only wanting to know about what is going on in your life as your friend, as if I am asking about what you and Larry talk about. I know you may not want to share, but I can tell you when you do share the details of the conversations, it makes me feel more safe and secure in our marriage. I hope you will consider sharing more of the details when I ask because when I feel safe and secure in our relationship, it makes all the difference for you and for me. I trust you.” Something like that…of course, some men get lost after the first five words! If that is your spouse, then a better way may be to communicate that you trust him no matter what is through what you do and don’t say. For example, instead of asking questions about the relationship between them, focus on him and how he always does the right thing, and what you appreciate about it..for example “Honey, I know I have been peppering you a lot with questions all the time and I know that you must feel like I am interrogating you and don’t trust you. But I have to tell you, I actually really admire you. I admire that you keep your word with her, take her groceries and help her. I admire that because that tells me the kind of heart you have and those are the things I love about you! You are a good man!” This will catch him off guard and is the proverbial, “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Be sure to keep that up each time he visits or talks with her and you might find he just might open up more without you having to ask.
    In prayers.
    T

  7. Sarah on January 8th, 2014 6:11 pm

    My husband and I are both 27. He is works in IT full-time, and I’m a SAHM (although I’m in the process of applying for a telecommuting job). We met (and shortly after, married) when we were in the military, 8 years ago. We made a “mistake” by not really getting to KNOW each other, but in the grand scheme of things, at this point, that’s basically irrelevant. We have 2 sons (5 and 7) and we have done a good job with raising them. I don’t doubt that he Ioves me, and despite everything, I truly love him. In the first half of our marriage, he was very hot and cold. There were a few suicide threats, to which I handled with concern and love, and lots of rage took out on apartment walls (never in front of our children). He was buckling under pressure for the issues we were facing in our marriage (porn, video games, household responsibilities, etc.). He came from childhood abuse (alcoholic stepfather and father, with an enabling and “helpless” mother). My parents fought like everyone else, but I’m happy with my childhood. I should state that I am firmly against divorce. He isn’t physically abusive and never has been. But emotionally… Let’s just say that I have adapted with a new layer of thick skin. Although our children are clearly affected, regardless, he doesn’t act horribly when they’re present and he’s never been abusive to them. I am an optimist, but also, a realist. This last half of our marriage has been tough… He got an iPad and iPhone for his last job (2 years ago) and he has gotten lost in the gaming community. He has clans, guilds, chat apps, tons of different email addresses, headsets, bosses on a timer, the full nine yards. A few years ago, it was Xbox and WoW. He rarely has anything to do with me, unless he’s interested at bedtime, which for him is late. I calculated his “hours” spent on the game to be the equivalent of another full-time job. So no time for me, and no time for our sons. We eat dinner together every night and I demand that he stops what he’s doing to tuck in our boys for bed, but after work and “the game”. The only time he seems interested is when we go to bed, which I embrace and do my part. But that’s just not enough and my needs of genuine intimacy are not being met. I feel isolated at home with no means of a second vehicle, and abandoned by the person that I have put so much forgiveness, love, compassion, and faith into. I am very good at communicating, but he’s not reciprocal. We’ve tried counseling twice, but we can’t afford it and I believe that it was inadequate care, to be honest. I’ve explained, asked, rewarded, praised, and then some. He is inconsistent with his behavior and isolated. The couple of friends and family members that I’ve discussed this with, and that know him, say that they can’t believe that I’ve stayed as long as I have. I know I’m slightly delusional and must have a screw loose somewhere, but I won’t give up on my marriage. I think of Ruth from the bible and my faith gives me strength. Now, that’s all fine and dandy, but how do I/we improve without relying strictly on God touching his soul? I just don’t want to be miserable forever, there must be a turning point somewhere…

  8. tstein on January 17th, 2014 1:43 am

    Sarah
    My heart goes out to you during your suffering in silence. Our modern day technology has become an intimacy killer. It is also very, very addicting and stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain, which is why many who spend countless hours gaming or on their IGear get lost in it. They can experience physiological changes in their brain! Individuals like your spouse who make changes (give up time in the games) become depressed and irritable because they go through withdrawals and no longer get the stimulation they once experienced in the fantasy worlds and quickly relapse. You describe a long history of his having difficulty soothing himself emotionally. He is substituting false relationships for real ones and will wake up one day and realize all he has lost. I think your situation may call for drastic action and a frank line in the sand. It is time to start making some changes. The first step is to do the unexpected. Be clear that it is no longer ok that he spend so much time on games and he needs to set some limits on it – that you did not sign up for this but understand the enjoyment he receives. Be clear with the amount of time that is acceptable to you. Don’t criticize though…state specifically want you want in positive terms, “I know how much you like gaming and I am glad you have a hobby and I want you to be able to play it. I also want to spend time with you. I miss you. I love you. I want you to know that for me, it is only ok that you spend X hours a day playing. After that, I expect us to spend time together and would like your help doing X, Y, Z. I know this will be a challenge for you to give up some time so I want you to know how much I appreciate you making the time for me. I know this will be a shock to your system so let’s plan on starting this not today, but tomorrow.” Additionally, let him know that during some of these times he is gaming, you are going to start enjoying life again and he will be responsible for the kids. Begin scheduling regular time away with your girlfriends or other fun activities. Just because he is lost in this world does not mean you have to be miserable. Join a Bible study, start working out, etc… I also recommend you getting with a good counselor..it can help to have someone to bounce ideas off of – just be certain they are marriage friendly even through the most difficult times as these.
    In Prayers
    Ted

  9. Sarah on January 30th, 2014 8:40 pm

    My husband and I have 2 kids under the age of 5, whenever I try to communicate how I feel about something has a few different reactions none of which make me feel like he loves me or even cares about my feelings! One reaction I get is I get ignored and I can get ignored for week by try to discuss my feelings. Or he’ll just get in the car and leave I never know where or for how long. Or he’ll sit there and repeat the word “yep” before I even say anything. The other day was a new one he laughed in my face. His also forced see onto me in the middle of the night when I’m asleep, most nights if I wake up I don’t even fight it but some nights I do and that’s another reason for getting ignored. I think this has more started over the last year due to me falling out of love with him because of his behavior to me. I don’t in any way feel connected with him anymore. His never been the one in the wrong it always comes back to being my fault somehow so I’ve never received an apology just excuses and blame. His hidden money from me we received for tax cause he was currently ignoring me then a month later when he told me about it he lied to my face saying he just got it, i found out cause I seen a bank statement when i confronted him it was my fault because of trying to communicate and he thought I would spend it all! Another time when I went out with friends because I was sick of being ignored he took all our money out of the account and locked and I hadn’t realize until after I’d fueled up the car when I tried to call him I still got ignored I had to get a friend to come pay for it. Yet again it was my fault cause I went out and was going to spend it all! Yet again no apology and followed by further ignoring. Never getting an explanation never communicating. Lately it’s just getting worse he snaps at the kids more often and he made one of my son’s friends cry and doesn’t think he handled the situation badly at all when I found out it wasn’t even this poor kids fault! When I married him I thought he was a nice man but now all I see is a monster! Nobody else sees this they all thinks his a great person but that’s because his always got time for them and is more then happy to help them I just wish he’d be more willing towards me.

  10. Yolande on February 1st, 2014 10:18 pm

    Hi there, ive been married for almost 18 years now and out of all those years have only been happy 2 or them. My husband works away most of the time and when he is home we do not communicate, to me it feels as if he just wants this perfect marraige when he never ever has to deal with any problems at all. things bother me and i want to talk,,,when he doesnt want to talk i get angry,,,which is 98% of the time in our married life time. I seriously need and crave for his love and attention. Omg i just really need him to talk and help me to figure things out in our lives. We have 2 sons and Not even once has he backed me up with disciplining our sons. i have always had to be the bad one in the parent situations and he has been the one that is more of a friend than a father. This is so very frustrating to me…My eldest son and i do not get along as we are astranged from each other and we seriously cant take each other….yes i know its sounding bad,,,,,well let me tell you it feels much worse than what it sounds. I feel that if my husband backed me up with the disciplining of the kids then i would have been much closer to him and my eldest son. but i feel resentment towards both of them….i cry so much i feel so bad and need to talk so much with my husband that i have actually become bitter,,,,,and he seems to not give a damn. Please oh please i need so much help as i feel as though im going insane. Regards Yolande

  11. Maeve on February 15th, 2014 3:01 am

    My husband and I have been married nearly 6 years–we are both mid-30’s. I got pregnant within a couple weeks of us meeting. We now have 4 children. He has cheated on me in the past, and we even separated for a bit when our youngest was only 2-months old. It’s been “rocky,” but we do really love each other. Recently, we’ve actually been in sync, and are in a place financially where we have enough money that it doesn’t cause fights! However, I have now done something stupid, and it’s breaking my heart. I’ve been feeling unattractive lately–I’ve gone from a size 4 to an 8 (early peri-menopause), and honestly, I haven’t been taking care of myself as much as I should. I’ve always been really confident, but lately, I’ve been really down. Comments that were always seen as teasing before have been really hurting my feelings (we’ve always had a trash-talking thing–it’s something that we bond over and use in lieu “lovey dovey”). There have been medical issues on both sides (my stupidly early hormonal changes, and a back injury for him), so it’s put some stress on us. Anyway, the other night, I was feeling low, so I searched for some online validation (a “cheating” site). I never had any intention of taking it further than anonymous flirty chatting (and I didn’t). However, the next morning, he saw my search history (he wasn’t snooping – I just never thought to hide it). I told him I was just flirting and it didn’t mean anything, but now he hasn’t spoken to me in days (since the initial questioning). He thinks I was trying to have an actual affair. It’s stupid, and I know I was just looking for a “quick fix” for my self-esteem issues: what I need to do is work on myself (more exercise, sleep, and making time for me–less drinking and being lazy). But I’m scared. I honestly don’t know if I should try to wait him out or try and force him to talk to me (leading to a big argument). Can you help?

  12. tstein on February 15th, 2014 10:13 pm

    Maeve
    My heart goes out to you. The internet make it easy for many people to seek validation and attention outside of the marriage. To get right to the point, I think it is great you are thinking about the healthy ways to feel good about yourself and take back your life in an active way. He has heard you tell him that it was a mistake. Give him his space to process it and let him know your plan to do the healthy things and then start doing them. If you talk about it, just let him know that “I just wanted to again let you know how sorry I am. We will make it through this. I know you are suffering. I love you and am not going to talk about it anymore unless you want or need to. I hope you will come to forgive me for this.”

    And then let it go. You have done what you needed to do. He may need some comfort and reassurance and offer it when he needs it. Otherwise, you have done what you needed to do. Then, start doing those things that are healthy so he can see you mean what you say and so you can start feeling better about yourself. Don’t expect him to be delighted when you start doing the healthy things though as he may see it as threatening (IE, getting yourself ready to leave). At that time, it is simple – reminding him that “You are the only one for me. I know I made a mistake and you are scared now. I am committed to you and us. Again, I hope you will forgive me when you are ready.”
    In Prayers.
    T

  13. tstein on February 15th, 2014 10:22 pm

    Yolande
    You are not going insane! We know from research that when a husband is not making himself available to talk to the wife and listen, that it creates a lot of anxiety and distress for the wife! Your pleas and cries have fallen on deaf ears and you are feeling really alone and vulnerable. On the other hand, you have been married a long time and that is great! It makes sense to me that both of you want things to go well as he works away most of the time. Of course, when he returns, you miss him and want to talk to him about what has been happening and how you feel to reconnect with him. I suggest staying away from “problem talk” for a few weeks when he returns home. Just talk to him about all that has been going well for you. After a couple of weeks of this, then lead with at least four things that have gone well before bringing up only ONE problem. It must be brought up gently as well, “Can I talk to you about one and only one thing that has been bothering me? What I need from you when I do this is……(just listen and understand, advice and a solution, or comfort). He is most not likely receiving the bids for connection when you want to confide in him with all of the negative things that have been happening and is shutting down. So, time for something different. When you approach him gently and tell him specifically what you need from him as above, it will be helpful to him. Again, this is only after resetting the negativity for a few weeks. I am suggesting this because it is important for you to understand how he may be receiving you (putting yourself in his shoes).
    In Prayers
    T

  14. tstein on February 15th, 2014 10:27 pm

    Sarah
    The problems you describe are very, very disturbing. You are describing what I would consider power and control tactics/behaviors of a husband in a marriage, where the husband is not open to influence from his wife. These are very, very serious problems. I can only imagine your suffering right now. Regrettably, what you described requires more than I can post in a blog. I simply urge you to find a competent counselor in your area.
    In Prayers
    T

  15. Southernann on March 23rd, 2014 1:56 am

    My husband and I have been married for almost 11 yrs. Second marriage for both of us. I am now 57 and he is 62. Our problem is: he does not have any sex drive what so ever. Before we married, we had sex at least 3 times a week. On our honeymoon night, he ignored me, turned on his side and went to sleep. And it’s been down hill from there. In all of 2013 we probably had sex 4 – 5 times. He shuts me down every time I try to have sex with him. Sex always has to be on his terms. He is also extremely lazy in bed, just lays on his back and lets me do all the work. I am a highly sexual woman and I crave human touch. It’s now gotten so bad, he won’t even speak to me about sex, he just quickly changes the subject. If I’m lucky, he will have sex with me once every 3 – 4 months. Every time we do he says he enjoyed it and promises to have sex more often, but never does. I’m really over it, exhausted, frustrated and at wits end. Can you help?

  16. Ashley on April 3rd, 2014 4:18 am

    My husband always stonewalls me for many different reasons. He also expects me to do many different things for him all of the time. I feel obligated to everything because if I don’t it won’t get done. Which makes everything even worse because than he gets the WORST attitude towards me. I feel a serious lack of respect. The worst part is most of the time I’m asked to do something but in the manner that it is actually him telling me to but in a question form or just flat out telling me to do something. I love my husband, but I need help!!! We are coming up on the end of our first year of marriage. We have already been through so much together. My husband is in the military which has put a serious strain on our marriage. What makes everything that much worse is I see why he is the way he is. His jobs drains him of everything. We are also both still young. Which I know are all just excuses and don’t make it acceptable. I’m just not sure what I can do.

  17. andrea on April 11th, 2014 7:19 pm

    My husband and I have been married 3yrs and are in our mid 30’s. he has recently joined the army and has been away at boot camp. We got into an argument the other day over money (which we never fight over) and he hung up on me and is refusing to talk to me for days now. We are not from the same country therefore there are some cultural differences. I have spoken with his family and they say to treat him the same way he is treating me. I however would love nothing more to talk this out and move on. He knows how much it bothers me when he behaves this way because we have spoken about it before. I feel like he does this just to punish me. It is hurtful and disrespectful. I don’t know what to do because he is not here with me and I cannot reach him by phone and he is not calling me.

  18. Mark on April 13th, 2014 10:21 pm

    My wife and I have been married 19 years,but together for 27. We have very different ways of dealing with confrontation both between us and with third parties. Between us my wife is very sure of her own infallibility. I find it difficult to impossible to get her to see there is someone else’s point of view and that it is different from hers and equally valid. It is worse when we are arguing over something that actually can’t be proven because there is no CCTV in the house but something I saw her do but she denies outright. She scraped the car on one of the brick pillars on either side of the driveway – I tell her she did and she denies it. She leans a tool against an expensive racing bike wheel and says ‘no I didn’t’. She simply doesn’t seem to care about the impact on our friendship – she simply can’t give in. At the very least she will just say that its a different of opinion and clam up. If I give her space the subject is never re-raised by her even though the problem is like a boil than needs lancing.

    The worst thing is her lack of loyalty or support. I do feel strongly about things, more than she does. She will often do nothing until the worst happens then she might act. When I say that it was obvious and I even told her, she will cry that it was unforeseeable. She uses ‘it never occurred to me’ as an argument, but to me it is a lack of common-sense of forethought.

    At the moment we are arguing with the local Government over a planning dispute. It has been hard-work and quite unpleasant. It involves lying, bias and manipulation by local officers. My wife has suddenly started getting cold feet over complaining. When I confronted her she started talking about repercussions, then said ‘I just don’t want something to come back on me’. She then starts using scare tactics like ‘we might be accused of libel if we complain about an individual’. Then she finishes off with ‘well maybe it is important to learn when you have done all you can’.

    All of these seem like a mixture of cowardice and apathy, but it also contains a fair measure of contempt for the ramifications for me.

    Before anyone comments, it is important to know that if we don’t fight this, a house will be built right behind our back fence and every tree in our garden which also happen to lie next to the boundary will be killed when their root systems are cut in half.

    It is not quite pulling the plug on life support but it is close and I can’t believe my wife’s defeatism or lack of sensitivity.

    It is not the first time she has backed out of supporting me over a complaint – she literally walked away when I confronted a Spanish post office clerk who gave us the wrong currency. She walked away when I was hauled over by police when they heard me yelling at a woman who had just missed running us down when she turned without indicating. She simply puts her own embarrassment ahead of supporting someone in a confrontation.

    It’s a lousy feeling suddenly realised you have been abandoned fighting OUR battle. It’s as if her default position is ‘do what makes me comfortable’, ‘put my sensibilities ahead of yours’.

    It makes you wonder what the marriage is meant to be about. To me it is ‘it might not be important to me in isolation, but it is important to me because it is important to you’.

  19. Joe on April 24th, 2014 1:07 pm

    I’m in the opposite boat. I’m the sensitive husband who wants more intimacy with my wife and she seems incapable of providing it. The line about gentleness and acceptance being emotional barometers of the relationship hit home with me because that is what I need above all else. Because I’m the guy in the relationship my wife feels like she can always “tell it like it is” — in other words, never pull punches, intentionally being blunt and hurtful because I should be able to handle it. Example: I finish a home project and she’ll focus on the 1% wrong with it instead of the 99% that’s perfect, making me feel like, what the hell did I bother doing this for? I could go on but it’ll start to resemble a rambling rant. I don’t know how to restore her affection and sensitivity toward me.

  20. tstein on May 26th, 2014 9:32 pm

    The marriage you described is what is referred to as the “Sex Starved Marriage”. Michelle Weiner Davis coined this to describe a marriage where sexual intimacy is present only 10 – 12 times or less per year. It is not uncommon as I have discovered in my 20 years as a therapist that men also experiences low bouts of desire. Most often, my first suggestion to the wife is to realize it has nothing to do with your attractiveness or how much he loves you. This is difficult to hear for many as it would “make sense” to draw those conclusions from years of chronic rejection. There are sometimes other reasons for low desire – physical health, low testosterone, and/or stress outside the marriage. It could also be there is some lingering problems that need to be addressed. Husbands frequently tell me that they want to feel close to their wife to be sexual and if there is anger and resentment present, that may need to get addressed first. Husbands also don’t want to be criticized or approached as if there is “something wrong with you.” That only pushes the husband further away. Most wives want to talk it through with their spouse, only to have promises made or worse, the discussion go no where. That leads to the next step – more attempts to talk! These also result in more of the same. Repeat two or three more times…While there is no ONE solution that will work most of the time, my first thoughts are what is different on the nights he is agreeable? How does that happen? Can you find the common denominators and build on those? In the meantime, a great reference I recommend visiting this website http://www.sexstarvedwife.com/
    T

  21. Lili on September 8th, 2014 2:09 am

    I have been with my boyfriend for 4 years now. We are still a bit young, 24, but we have been talking about getting married for a long time. Lately though when i think about spending my life with him, i get these panic attacks and cant breathe and start crying. For the past week ive been extremely depressed and a bit suicidal….I didnt tell anyone because I thought I could handle it, yesterday I was close to suicide and really scaring myself so I reached out and told my boyfriend, who was sad to hear it and after a 20min. Conversation left me alone all night…thats when I kind of opened my eyes.. You see i love him very much but the trust between us is broken. He hasnt ever cheated on me or been with someone else while we were dating but throughout our relationship he has lied to me, little lies but the same ones over and over and over again. He seems to have a hard time holding my hand or touching me in anyway when were out In public. When were home he goes straight for sex skipping all the kissing and hugging thats so important to me. He doesnt look at me the same way, before I could see the.love and admiration in his eyes, now he hardly looks at me at all (unless were having sex) when we talk its all routine, how are you, what did you do, even the I love yous are so emotionless. We hardly have any real conversations. He is a good man, kind, respectfull, smart, and at some point im sure he did love me but now I really doubt it and I dont want to string him along much less marry him if he doesnt feel what I feel…ive told him this countless times and he always says he loves me and he’ll change..which he does for about a week, then it all goes back to the way it was…..what do i do?

  22. tstein on September 8th, 2014 5:01 pm

    Lili
    You have been together a long time and it sounds like the relationship was very serious and now, your heart is broken. When you ask yourself the question, “Do I deserver more?” the answer is Yes! It is good that your eyes are open and you are waking up! As I Christian, the greatest example of real love is Jesus and God. God so loved the world that he gave us his only son. He gave up his only Son up to death for everyones wrong doings so that all who believe and receive him shall not perish but have eternal life. Think about it! God loves you that much that even before you were born, He gave you and all of us Christ. He washed away all of our shame so that we can be born again, have joy again, and be free from bondage. This is the Good News! Your heart is broken. My Bible says in John 8:32, 36 – “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. So if the Son makes you free, you will be truly free.” Lili – can see the truth, you have heard the truth, but you want to deny the truth. Don’t deny the truth. The truth will set you free. All you have to do is believe and receive. Give yourself the greatest gift you can give yourself! Did you know that the greatest command given is in Matthew which says, 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
    In His Name, I pray for you Lili
    T

  23. Julie on October 3rd, 2014 2:39 pm

    I’ve been married for almost 2 weeks. Yes weeks. We met in Florida a year & a half ago where I lived, fell in love and a few months later, I left my home, job, friend & family to be with him in Canada and help him through a difficult time in his life. I couldn’t get a work permit so I moved to Buffalo alone to be close to him- 90 mins away. I’ve been in Buffalo 6 months. My husband is unemployed on disability for “PTSD” from being a correctional officer for 11 years- not worked for 10 months and not looking for work. We got married so we can be together- I brought up taking a break and instead we got married. But he still spends most of his time in Canada at his folks house- 90 mins away. When he’s across the border, he hardly speaks to me. Its 10:30am and I haven’t heard from him since yesterday afternoon- no response to my calls & texts. When he’s home with me, he doesn’t want to talk about our future or his plans to find a job and gets angry when I say I’m concerned. He only seems happy when we are going to the bar & having fun together. I knew this would be hard, but I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing here married & alone in Buffalo when I should be in newlywed bliss. I shower him in love, positive texts, tell him how I much I miss him & can’t wait to see him. I walk on egg shells when it comes to bringing up serious topics so I try to keep our communication light & positive. We got married to be together, but I’m just so alone & no one to talk to- i’ve met people but don’t want to bring up my pain/fears to new friends and don’t want to worry my friends & family back home. What am I doing wrong? How can I get the fun loving guy at the bar who adores me to come out all the time? Or for him to want a life of happiness together? I’m just hurting so much trying to be patient.

  24. tstein on October 3rd, 2014 4:27 pm

    Hi Julie
    I hear your sorrow especially since you got married to be together and then unseen forces began keeping you apart. Now, there are forces that are keeping you apart even when together! You have tried to get his attention, been patient, keeping things positive but are alone when he is gone and lonely when he is present. This is not the contract that you signed up for. It also seems as if your attempts to negotiate change are being met with stonewalling. First, I would start by focusing on being the best you possible. Exercise, eat healthy, time with friends, church, journalling, etc and remember, the problem isn’t you. Your best bet is to find a good counselor in your area who you can confide in and can help you through this difficulty. Individuals with PTSD often have depression as well. Irritability, withdrawal, avoidance are all signs. Self medication is a great way to feel no pain and suffering. Is he taking care of his PTSD though counseling? If not, then it will not go away. PTSD is a diagnosis that is very treatable but one must be in treatment for it. You have a right to be concerned about your situation and worried for his health. Depression and PTSD, left untreated, can be destructive force. Most of the time, PTSD can be treated with 12 to 15 sessions with a trauma focused therapist. There is also a great resource called “Stop Walking on Eggshells” that you may find helpful!
    In prayers
    T

  25. Doug on October 8th, 2014 10:32 pm

    Ladies:
    Did ya try the sex? Men are different.

    Think about it this way:
    Before mariage: Men think “sex is just sex” and for women, its “an emotional things with x,y,z tied into it and…”

    AFTER mariage, that flip flops. Men want and NEED sex as an emotional re-conformation of your emotional state. Women see sex as a “chore.”

    Realize where you’re coming from, and it should make life easier.

    Men: talk more
    Women: Sex more.

    If you give more, you’ll get more.

  26. tstein on October 11th, 2014 3:51 am

    Doug,
    The takeaway that I agree with is real love is doing real giving – from both sides. Both persons need to choose to make their partner a priority. Marriage neglect is the large reason for such a high divorce rate. We all are responsible for our choices. Choose real giving as much as possible. I will add that it is not just talking more or more sex – but quality of each is important. When you think about it, two people can say a lot without any connection/understanding. Two people can have a lot of empty, loveless sex. I would add that intimacy, both verbal and physical, is about knowing and understanding your partner. There is no greater gift that knowing someone knows you as much/better than you know yourself AND responds accordingly.
    T

  27. ARandomDude on October 16th, 2014 4:49 pm

    Why is it that men have to quantify a woman’s needs? There is so much rhetoric out there about what men aren’t doing for their women, yet I have never seen much in the way of the reverse.

    Some men are sensitive, a good portion are not. We are raised with the “warrior” mentality, emotions only get in the way. We learn over time they’re not, but you cannot easily undo a lifetime of indoctrination. This is not an excuse for us, simply how it tends to be.

    I for one get angry that I need to “do something” to make my wife feel “valued”, “loved” etc. I understand women may need this but to hinge the entire relationship on “he doesn’t talk” is utter insanity to me.

    I love my wife. She loves me. I don’t feel it’s necessary to say this every single day, on the hour every hour. My actions should speak louder than my words (in some cases here, comment-wise, this isn’t always true, some of the guys are just jerks) and I shouldn’t have to be dissected by some armchair-psychiatry because I don’t talk much in the way “my wife needs it”.

    The opposite side of this is, “I need intimacy” because I don’t feel connected/close to my wife without it. Yet I have to play games, jump through hoops and basically make her feel secure in who she is and who we are before I get what I need?

    Just makes me wonder sometimes why men even bother with women to begin with, it tends to be more trouble than it’s worth. Maybe I got a broken one. Maybe I’m not progressive enough. I don’t know.

    Just getting tired of seeing all these blogs/posts about how us men are “failing” our women in ways that make absolutely no sense to a rational individual.

    Men are logical, women are emotional. How we ever managed to become dominant species on this planet sometimes amazes me.

  28. Sportsmom23 on November 7th, 2014 2:44 am

    My husband and I have been together for 13 years, married for 5. My problem is my husband refuses to communicate with me. He has made several large purchases in the past few years without consulting me first. We are now are in a boatload of debt, having a hard time paying our bills. Every time I bring up the fact that we have expensive “toys” thst we don’t need my husband shuts down, becomes angry and usually walks out while I’m talking. He then turns it on me telling me to get a “real job”. I am well educated with a good job but only work 32 hours a week instead of the “real job” status of 40. Im beyond frustrated, and scared about our financial future, as we have two children we can barely support. I also found out he’s hiding a significant amount of credit card debt. I decided to separate our bank accounts because he refuses to work on our finances. since then our electricity was turned off because he didn’t pay the bill. I am humiliated by this, as we are well employed “professionals.” I feel so alone about this and am realizing he is a big, selfish child, is there any hope?

  29. Luz on December 4th, 2014 12:29 am

    I don’t understand my husband.. I feel like i’m suffocating in this marriage… we been married for 3 months… before we got married he didn’t want to have sex with me because he was nervous… he wanted to wait until we were married. the night of our wedding I was mortified when he rejected me in sexy lingerie… I feel rejected every day, he doesn’t communicate with me, he doesn’t share anything. a few weeks ago, I discovered his phone with downloaded naked pictures of females. I’m smart, have a great job, very fit, and consider myself good looking. my life is a nightmare and I have been nothing but patient, understanding, loving, caring and so on…. but I could only do it for so long. for the past week i’m irritable, bitchy, annoyed, I sleep on the couch sometimes,,,, I even have asked for a divorce. I’m dieing in pain.

  30. Tanny on January 12th, 2015 11:45 am

    My partner and I have been together for nearly 16 years and we have two children together. We have had a few troubles a few years back in which I drifted away from him and although we lived together we weren’t really together for about a year. I realised I did love him and we worked things out and then we had our 2nd child. Our youngest is now 6 yrs old and our eldest 14. For a while now we have just lost all communication and we just are not the same. I try really hard to jump on things quickly if we have an argument and try to fix the problem straight away but he always walks away, has a drink and ignores me and the problem and shuts himself away. He is pathologically shy and has a lot of issues especially with being able to communicate. I know it is not easy for him to communicate but he used to at least try, now he does not. He is one of the best dads to our 6yr old boy (when he’s sober) but once he has a drink he just turns into this ignorant, careless, unloving and heartless person who doesn’t care about me or the kids and our feelings. It hurts so much because our boy idolises him but then I get the feeling he gets insecure and emotional and scared and clingy if we ever have an argument in front of him (although I try not to but when I ask if we can talk later on away from the kids he says no and walks away). Our daughter is a lot like my partner in the way that she doesn’t like to communicate and the two of them are not close and are both too shy and uncomfortable to talk to each other much, it’s alway me in between to try and urge one of them to talk to each other or do something together. It’s really hard because I know how important it is to have a strong loving caring and supportive male in my daughters life but neither of them make any effort to build their relationship. My children are affecting by our constant bickering or tension when we are not talking to each other and I am just hurting all the time and feel so alone a lot. I don’t know how he is feeling but when he does talk to me he just brings up that all I do is nag at him and want him to change but in fact all I want is for him to be how he used to be and try to put some input into bettering our relationship and his relationship with the kids and not letting alcohol take over. I want him to be able to enjoy a drink or two but its like he has to be the last one standing and turns into a selfish unloving person. I just dont know what to do. I don’t know how to make it right. I get so angry and go through the emotions when I try and he just walks away. Is my relationship over? I need help, I’m tired of feeling so sad, alone and hurt.

  31. Annette on January 26th, 2015 9:32 am

    I have been married to a passive-aggressive man for 22 years. being ignored is the story of my life. The advise is good here as long as you have a willing partner. Whenever there was difficulties I would try to get my husband to talk, to open up, to express his thoughts but the PA does not really confide. They pass off responsibility, won’t deal with issues and then when you do you are told that they wouldn’t have handled it that way. When asked a question they are vague. When they agree to something that doesn’t mean they will follow thru. if you anger the PA you will be ignored. They do not tell you what you said or did. If you try to guess they will not be truthful. Slowly this erodes at the relationship and little by little you start giving up on the marriage.

    In my case, I would concentrate my the kids, the home, my career, spend time with friends while husband pretty much did his thing. Many times his love for life were things that were destructive to the marriage…..drinking with his buddies or just heavy drinking at home, porn searching, infatuations with other women. he’d tell me that I just needed to accept him the way he was.

    Earlier this month I told him I wanted a divorce. At first his response was “fine” but since such anger has come from this man.

    It takes two people willing to put in the effort to make a relationship work. Communication, working together for goals and plans, confessing to poor/destructive behavior and making a real effort for change I vital. Otherwise, what do you have??

  32. Renee on January 31st, 2015 3:28 pm

    My husband and I have been married 19 years and I over the years I believed and I kept telling myself “things will get better” and in actuality, do they? No. Who was I kidding? My husband rarely never talked to me. I was the chatter-box. I was the one who always commented about every TV show, commercial, or issue at hand. He just kept getting himself another beer. Then when he was obviously loaded, that’s when he “came-out-his-shell” and would talk somewhat. We went to counseling over this issue about 6-7 yrs ago and the counselor advised my husband to “make an effort to listen to me and give feedback to whatever the subject may be” — and it worked and I was so proud of my husband. I guess over the years, I didn’t recognize the problem came back. I confronted my husband and told him that he has no conversation and that he doesn’t talk to me. He just gave me the cold-shoulder treatment like I was a total stranger. Ok… You have no conversation for me, well I have no conversation for you. So what we have here is two 50-something year old adults living in a household who haven’t said a full sentence to each other in two weeks. He wouldn’t even text me (while I was away from the house) to ask me a question about our dog and her medication. I finally asked my husband what is wrong with him and why he won’t talk to me. He told me we were invited to an event with some friends and I told him I didn’t want to go if he was going. (I can’t see myself going anywhere with him at this time when we’re not talking and as soon as we get to this event with our friends, he’s going start talking to me like everything fine and dandy…. until we get back home them here comes the silent treatment again). I went to bed and here he comes and he begins grabbing on me as to say he’s sorry but there’s no words coming from his mouth. What did my first sentence begin with? Married for 19 years….I been down this road before. My husband will touch and grab like he wants to have sex. I got out of the bed immediately. I told him in a very soft and sweet voice, “no, you’re not going to treat me like that; you don’t want to talk to me so you shouldn’t want to touch me either.” Wow, I hit a nerve with that one. He turned away from me in our bed and I softly suggested going to counseling again and he literally became irate and blew up at me and got all ugly in the face and said “why is counseling the only thing you know – no, I’m not going to counseling.” I asked him why and he just said he wasn’t going. I said so you don’t want to work on our marriage or our relationship? No response from him. I asked him if he’d rather I filed for divorce? He just said: “I want to live a quiet and peaceful life. At that point I left well enough alone, turned out the light and stayed on my side of the bed. We’re still not speaking, talking or communicating. What an ugly way to live.

  33. moo on February 10th, 2015 4:53 pm

    Hi, I am in a rather difficult situation, my husband and I have been married for 2 years one son, we are having communication problems. He has forbidden me to work and wants me to be a stay at home mother, we are going thru financial difficulties, to the extend tht we had to stay with our families for a time, yet he still refuses to let me work, I have become so utterly depressed, when I stopped breastfeeding the baby and was going thru the pain he ddnt help with the baby, he was accusing me saying I’m starving the baby, yet I breast fed until our son was 1year 4 mnthsn I have tried talking to him he won’t listen to me, he says if I want a job then we divorce! I’m concidering this option right now! Please help its not easy!

  34. Amy on March 12th, 2015 3:41 am

    Well my husband won’t talk to me either plus he won’t, sleep, have sex or be in the same room with me. We have been married 47 years and its been this way since the day after our wedding. We’ve only had sex once in all this time and he lives his whole life in our basement and worked the midnight shift all week ends, vacations, holiday’s so as to not be home with me.
    I have my shrink and my pill’s to keep my life moving along.

  35. Mia on April 5th, 2015 4:33 pm

    Dear Mr. Stein,

    I found your article and began reading through the comments. I could relate to so many of the posts. I have been married for 27 years. I was only 19 when I married and he was 20. I came from a background of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. I was a mess and he could somehow see me through all of the baggage. At least that is what I told myself. I look back now and think that I was so needy and desperate to be loved that he had to do very little for me to feel attended to. I was always able to have hope–hope that one day I would be valued and loved. I was always joyful in spite of my past because I would one day be loved. He was my knight in shining armor. I quickly realized that he was not. He does not talk — to anyone. He has no friends. He says very little to our children. He is a complete loner. And I am lonely. I used to work very hard at seeking out couples we could befriend. I would plan parties, dinners, etc. He would actually fall asleep while they were at our house. I gave up. So then I started doing everything on my own. What kind of marriage is that? I keep myself so busy that I don’t have to realize how neglected I am. I have a BS in Psychology, MS in Psychology, MS in Chemistry and I am starting medical school. I have all these accomplishments and would give them up in a heartbeat just to feel loved and valued. I have clung to the promises of God and refused to divorce. I don’t know how much longer I can sustain this level of loneliness. I have tried every form of communication to express to him my needs, my hurts, my loneliness. He isn’t capable. What do I do?

  36. Debbie on April 14th, 2015 9:36 pm

    Ive been married for 32 yrs and my husband has always put up a wall of silence if i point out a fault of his thats upsetting which is always his cell phone. He is NEVER off it. We sit on the sofa in the evening and i may as well be on my own. He is constantly texting. He’ll put it down for about 5 seconds then picks it up again, its so frustrating. 4 weeks ago we were sitting watching tv (well i was) and he was engrossed in his phone so i said something to him about it. He hasnt spoke to me since, wont even be in the same room as me and we are now in separate bedrooms. I am feeling very anxious and can’ t concentrate in work. Hecis going on holiday in 3 days for a week with his mates. This isnt the first time hes done this, the last time lasted 2 months

  37. Cassie on May 6th, 2015 6:00 am

    We have a been married almost 7 years now. My husband & I have had a rough marriage from the start. He is 12 years older than me & had never been married before… He does not like to talk hardly at all. He comes home from work & plays solitary until bedtime. We have a 1 year old daughter… I know he loves her dearly but never gives her a bath or plays with her hardly at all. He just comes home & plays on his phone. There is no “Hi honey… How was your day…” from him or anything. We have sex only when I ask for it and not all the time does that work either. There are Times We have went a month or longer without being intimate of any kind. This started even before our daughter was born. He has in the last month told me that he isn’t attracted to me cause of my baby weight. He says things like “u had her a year ago there’s no excuses.” I am not super heavy I do have a little weight from being pregnancy. He also will say things like “I don’t even know why I am with u anymore.” this he was saying before our daughters birth. I am a firm believer that divorce isn’t an option. I take my vows very seriously. I am not sure how much I can take. I feel very beaten down inside and just lost. He is always yelling when he does speak to me or putting me down. I now am concerned for my daughter. I do not want her growing up in a home with no love. He says I live in fairytale land. He has never just reached out to hold my hand, he doesn’t just kiss me for no reason, he says “I don’t need to hear u love me daily”, he talks poorly about my siblings, he says things like “your daddy bought u your diploma didn’t he.” He is just never HaPpY. I recently had to stop working for childcare reasons. He doesn’t deposit money into our account on a regular basis. I feel I have to beg for everything. I do not want a fairytale But I would like him to hold me when I cry, kiss me for no reason, ask me how I am, talk to me daily without tv or phone on, look at me when talking, go for walks me or just act like u like being with me, come home and grab our daughter and kiss her and play with her before anything else…. I am crazy? I feel lost…. My family doesn’t care for him. They are concerned for me. Just today my sister made a comment to me “is there anything your allowed to do?” His sister has even commented on the way he talks to me… Please can u give some insight…. Am I fighting a lost cause?

    Thanks.

  38. Linda on July 26th, 2015 4:42 pm

    I’ll be 64 in December and I have always had a fear of being alone.I have been having heart palpitations probably due to stress.. My x husband and I were married in 1996 and lived together (mostly Happy) for a few years then got a divorce but remained “friends”.We even still lived together a while.. But then I found these senior apartments and the rent is subsidized which is good since I’m on disability and he is retired on social security.We both live in separate apartments and he LOVES it I don’t because I have always had a fear of being alone . But I thought with him just across the way I could handle that.. I cannot handle it .I still feel very much alone..and I have panic attacks all the time.. He comes over and the whole time he tells me he hates my shows on tv and he is too hot over here and he wants to go home..We both watch our grand daughters during the week they are older now 9 and 13 but we love them dearly. But when everyone goes home here I am afraid and alone with panic attacks ,and my heart feels like a ping pong ball bouncing around in my chest .. I went to the doctor and to the ER and they say its common to have that.. I think they are crazy this is SO HORRIBLE? HOW CAN I CONVINCE HIM WE SHOULD LIVE TOGETHER AGAIN? I am so desperate and by the way , this man is beyond stubborn. He is almost to the point of abusive towards me .But he has never hit me.. just his words really hurt.. Sex is not involved he is diabetic and lost that ability years ago..He never even holds my hand or any kind of affection and he won’t even sit by me on the sofa.. After re-reading this I wonder why I would even want to live with him but the only thing is I love him even after all these years and ALL THE GROUCHINESS TOWARDS ME.. Am I crazy?Please I hope some one can help me.

Got something to say?





Make an appointment Information Request Form