our everyday life

How to Get Your Spouse to Open up to You

by Tamara Runzel

Communication is one key to a successful marriage, but communication is difficult if your spouse doesn’t open up to you. Communication differences could be due to gender; Focus on the Family notes that men and women communicate differently. Men are more likely to communicate through actions, whereas women are generally more verbal. Regardless of why your spouse does not open up to you, you can take some steps to enhance communication.

Figure out how to best fulfill your spouse’s emotional needs. Marriage and family life expert Gary Chapman believes that everyone speaks one of five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. Figuring out which love language your spouse speaks will help you meet his emotional needs, making it easier for him to open up.

Keep communicating even when you’re frustrated. If you withdraw, your spouse is more likely to withdraw as well.

Find a quiet time without any distractions to explain to your spouse how the lack of communication makes you feel and the negative effect it has on your marriage, advises Dustin Riechmann on YourTango. Think about what you want to say ahead of time so you can convey your feelings in a respectful and honest manner, recommends the website Focus on the Family.

Ask your spouse if you can set aside a short amount of time each day to talk without distractions, suggests Focus on the Family. Let your spouse pick the length of time; most spouses who don't want to talk will agree to this plan if they know it's for a limited amount of time.

Find opportunities to turn routine activities into conversations. For example, a trip to the grocery store might present an opportunity to talk. Oprah.com notes that men are activity oriented; going for a walk or doing a simple activity together when you want to talk might lead to more conversation.

Find time to talk when there is a pressing matter. Dr. Dave Currie, writing for FamilyLife, notes that regardless how busy the two of you are, you must intentionally make time to establish a more emotional connection. Dr. Currie recommends planning date nights and writing each other into the other's schedule.

Ask some warm-up questions if you have a heavy topic on your mind. These questions can help lead your spouse to more meaningful conversation. Listen to your spouse’s responses and try to focus on where she’s coming from.

Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements when talking with your spouse so your spouse won't feel like he’s to blame. If you need to point out a certain situation, Reader’s Digest recommends using the statements like, “When you do XYZ, I feel XYZ.”

Recognize when your spouse does open up with you. Tell her how much it means to you and that it makes her even more attractive to you.

Give your spouse positive reinforcement often. Find things during the day that you appreciate and make a point to tell him, whether it’s face to face, in a text message or through a short note.

About the Author

Tamara Runzel has been writing military, parenting, family and relationship articles since 2008. Runzel started in television news, followed by education before deciding to be a stay at home mom. Her articles have appeared in military publications as well as numerous online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from University of the Pacific.

Photo Credits

  • Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images