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.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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’.

  4. 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.

  5. 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/

  6. 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?

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

    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

  8. 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.

  9. 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

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

    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.

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

    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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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