Do you feel like you and your husband don't talk anymore? You're not alone! These 15 tips will teach you how to get your husband talking so you can enjoy each other, reconnect, deepen your relationship, and communicate honestly and constructively.
Do you feel like your husband doesn’t talk to you enough? Are you looking for ways to get him to open up and communicate with you better? If so, you’re not alone. I hear this so frequently from women I know. The house suddenly seems so quiet and lonely once the kids leave home and when they turn to their husband for conversation, they find he isn’t really interested in talking.
- Is it Normal for Married Couples to Not Talk?
- When is Not Talking a Warning Sign?
- How to Get Your Husband to Talk to You
- 1. Ask Yourself if You Really Want Your Husband to Talk More or if You’re Really Looking for a Listener
- 2. Don’t Take it Personally
- 3. Dial Down the Pressure
- 4. Learn His Love Language
- 5. Ask Him About Things He Enjoys
- 6. Learn to Listen
- 7. Pick the Right Time to Talk
- 8. Get Out of the House
- 9. Be a Safe Space
- 10. Talk About Something Fun and Unexpected
- 11. Turn Toward Your Husband
- 13. Compliment Him
- 14. Ask His Opinion
- 15. Give a Heads Up Before You Start a Difficult Conversation
- Bonus Tip: Reach Out to a Therapist for Advice
Is it Normal for Married Couples to Not Talk?
Silence in a relationship isn’t necessarily a bad sign. We all get preoccupied with our own thoughts from time to time. Even a happy marriage has its fair share of healthy silences.
When is Not Talking a Warning Sign?
There are some times, however, when silence in a marriage can be a red flag. If you are experiencing any of the following behaviors in your marriage, reach out to a trained therapist for advice on how best to resolve the situation.
The Silent Treatment
If your husband is giving you the silent treatment, it’s a sign that he’s angry and doesn’t know how to communicate his feelings. This type of communication usually shows that there are deeper issues at play. He may also use the silent treatment as punishment or as a tool of manipulation to control your behavior.
Shutting Down and Stonewalling
If your husband retreats from a conversation by shutting down and refusing to talk, he is stonewalling: withdrawing from an unpleasant situation by refusing to engage at all. The marriage therapist John Gottman refers to stonewalling as one of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” a sign that your marriage is in serious trouble.
If either of these seems familiar, please reach out to a therapist to learn more and to learn how best to deal with these behaviors.
How to Get Your Husband to Talk to You
However, if you’re feeling like your husband just isn’t communicating with you the way he used to, there are some things you can do to encourage him to open up. Many times, communication problems in a marriage are simply a result of the busy lives we lead while raising our family. If that’s the case, you can learn to reconnect again.
It takes time to build trust and open communication in a relationship. If you’ve been married for years, it may take some time to get your husband to talk more. However, if you’re patient and consistent, he will see you as someone with whom he enjoys talking.
Here are 15 powerful tips to help get your husband talking again.
1. Ask Yourself if You Really Want Your Husband to Talk More or if You’re Really Looking for a Listener
Sometimes we say that we wish our husband would talk more, but what we really mean is that we wish our husband would listen to us. If that’s the case, ask yourself if you’re truly interested in hearing what he has to say, or if you’re just looking for someone to validate your own thoughts and feelings.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with needing validation! But communication needs to be a two-way street. You may need to open up communication between you and your husband by first learning to listen.
2. Don’t Take it Personally
Don’t take it personally if he doesn’t want to talk. Some men like to work through problems in their heads, rather than talking it out with someone else. Your husband may be processing a situation at work that he needs to think through. Or he may simply be thinking about something that he’s planning to do later.
His silence is not a personal attack against you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let him know you would like to hear what he’s thinking.
3. Dial Down the Pressure
If your spouse hasn’t been talking to you and appears to be pulling back, try letting the issue rest for a while. Sometimes one partner can push the other away by being too clingy or demanding. If you sense this is happening, back off and give your husband some space to come to you on his own.
Stop nagging him to talk to you. This will only make him feel defensive and he’ll be less likely to want to open up. Instead, try asking him specific questions about his day or commenting on something you know he’s interested in. This will show that you’re interested in hearing what he has to say.
It’s ok to let him know that wish the two of you talked more. But phrase it as a positive, “I love talking to you so much and I miss you when you’re so quiet,” rather than a negative, “You never talk to me.”
4. Learn His Love Language
Sometimes we have difficulty communicating with our spouse because each partner shows love differently. I highly recommend Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages for learning the different ways people show love.
For example, if your husband’s love language is Acts of Service, he might show love by doing things to help around the house rather than expressing his love with words. You may discover that your husband is actually expressing his feelings without talking.
This quiz will help you identify your love language. Why not ask your husband to take it too? If he doesn’t want to take the quiz (my own husband would probably rather die), you can try taking it from his perspective and see what you learn.
5. Ask Him About Things He Enjoys
A good first step in getting your husband to talk more is to ask him questions about something he’s interested in. If he enjoys sports, ask him about his favorite team. If he’s into cars, ask him about the latest models. This will help get the conversation started on a topic he’s comfortable with.
You can connect with his interests even if it’s something you just don’t care about. For example, I’m never, ever going to care about what guitar my favorite musician used for a particular song. But I love seeing how engaged my husband is when he’s talking about specific guitars and occasionally I’ll discover that I am interested after all.
6. Learn to Listen
This tip is really difficult for me. If I’m talking with my husband and he says something that reminds me of a situation that happened to me, I can be off and telling my story without even realizing I’ve cut him off.
Instead of being like me, reward your husband when he talks by practicing active listening. Give him your full attention and ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation going.
7. Pick the Right Time to Talk
If you greet your husband with “How was your day?” as soon as he walks in the door, you may get just a terse “Fine” in return. Many people need some time to decompress and transition from work-mode to home-mode.
Try waiting until later in the evening to talk (perhaps over dinner?) This will give him time to relax and reflect on his day, making him more likely to open up and share with you.
8. Get Out of the House
Sometimes a conversation can flow more easily in a new location. Try taking a walk together, going on a drive to a new city, or planning a fun date night at a new restaurant. Getting out of the house can break the monotony of day-to-day life and can give you both something new to focus on and talk about.
A shared activity can do wonders to restart the conversation. It’s so fun to sit and chat with my husband over a drink after we’ve just finished doing something fun we both enjoyed.
9. Be a Safe Space
No one wants to open up to someone who will judge or criticize them. If you want your husband to feel comfortable talking to you, be a safe space for him. This means being accepting, non-judgmental, and open-minded.
Don’t trivialize the issue if he wants to discuss something that seems unimportant to you. You are there to listen and support, not judge or fix. Respond to your husband with empathy and resist the temptation to judge, lecture or offer advice.
10. Talk About Something Fun and Unexpected
We tend to fall into the same patterns in any long relationship. Instead of starting a conversation with “How was Your Day?,” try an unexpected question to get the conversation going in a new direction.
You’ll Also Love
A few years ago, the New York Times published an article called To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This. Apparently, the best way to make anyone fall in love with you is to simply share the answers to 36 questions while…
You could also share the latest gossip in the neighborhood and ask your husband what he thinks. Or tell him a dirty joke you just heard. If you can make him laugh, he’ll be more likely to open up and share with you.
11. Turn Toward Your Husband
If your husband says anything to you, no matter how small, encourage him by responding right away and giving him your full attention. In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman discusses how both partners in a marriage often reach out to connect by making a “bid for attention.”
A bid for attention can be something like a seemingly small moment when your husband says, “Oh my God, those birds kept me up all night last night. They’re so annoying.” But how you respond can determine whether he’ll want to reach out again in the future.
Gottman explains that If you ignore the comment or respond negatively (“What’s your problem? I love hearing birds at night.”) then you’re turning away from your husband and rebuffing his bid for attention. This causes negative feelings that can be difficult, over time, to get past.
Instead, try turning towards your husband when he makes a bid for attention by responding positively. Your response doesn’t have to be big. It can be a simple, “I know! Those birds are so loud. Who could sleep with them chirping like that all night.”
It can even be a neutral comment like, “Oh, funny. I like hearing the birds at night, but I understand why they might bother you.”
The more times you respond to your husband’s bids for attention, the more often he’ll want to reach out and talk.
13. Compliment Him
We all respond positively to praise. If your husband starts up a conversation or responds to something you’ve said, be sure to reward his effort by giving him your full attention and positive feedback. Let him know you enjoy talking with him.
This will encourage him to continue talking and let him know that you’re interested in what he has to say.
14. Ask His Opinion
Everyone loves to be seen as an expert. If you have a problem you need to resolve, try asking your husband what he would do in the same situation. This will help him feel needed and appreciated, and it will give you the benefit of his insight and wisdom.
It might surprise you how helpful he can be!
15. Give a Heads Up Before You Start a Difficult Conversation
When you’re married, you have a partner to help you solve those difficult problems in life. Unfortunately, though, married couples can sometimes fall into the trap of talking only about the current problem. That’s particularly true if the two of you are dealing with a tough family situations or having issues with finances.
If that happens, it’s normal to want to avoid all conversation with your partner. Nobody likes being surprised by an unpleasant conversation.
If you need to have a hard conversation, give a heads up and ask for a time to talk. You could try saying something like, “I need to talk to you sometime about how we’re going to pay Mandy’s tuition this semester. When would a good time be for us to talk about that?”
This will help your husband prepare for the conversation and relax without worrying about being ambushed.
Bonus Tip: Reach Out to a Therapist for Advice
If it seems like nothing you try can get your husband talking, don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist about the issue. A qualified family therapist can help you look at the patterns in your marriage and suggest ways you can both be happier.
Your husband may want to attend some sessions with the therapist with you (and that would probably be ideal) but you can still gain insights into your issues if you visit the therapist alone.
Just remember to have hope! It is possible to get your husband to talk to you again. It might take time, and it may require some changes in your behavior, but when those lines of communication have been reestablished, you can connect with your spouse in a whole new way.