Open, honest communication is key to a good marriage, so when you're having trouble in this area, you're bound to start having doubts about your entire relationship. If you feel your husband is avoiding your questions, your feelings are hurt and you're probably angry with him. It's helpful to take a step back and try to objectively analyze the situation and figure out the reasons behind your husband's reluctance to answer your questions, so you can take action to correct the problem.
Try to remember when this reluctance to respond began. Perhaps your husband has never been a great conversationalist, but you've only noticed it recently because you have some important questions on your mind right now. If this tendency to avoid answering is a recent phenomenon, there might be something else going on that you need to discover.
Choose the right time for your questions. You're more likely to get his attention if you approach him when he's having some down time and not when he's in the midst of watching a big game on television. It's also a good idea to first ask if it's a good time for him or not.
Make "I" statements and avoid accusatory "you" remarks before you launch into any questions. For example, it's much less confrontational to say, "I get worried imagining something awful has happened when you're home late," rather than, "You're so inconsiderate not to call to tell me you'll be late." It's even better to make "we" statements. Try, "We used to be more considerate of each other's feelings. Can we try to recapture those times?"
Decide whether you suspect your husband has something to hide. If you're asking him to explain why he's suddenly coming home late and he doesn't answer, you have more reason to doubt his faithfulness than if he ignores you when you ask him what he'd like for supper.
Make an honest assessment of the type of questions you ask and the frequency you're asking them. Perhaps you feel a need to know details of his day and ask him to rehash everything. You might believe that spouses should share every thought and feeling they have, while he finds that intrusive. If you pepper every conversation with a barrage of questions, your husband might resent what he feels is nagging.
Decide to what extent normal gender differences contribute to the problem. As a general rule, women prefer to talk through their problems, while men are usually reluctant to dwell on unsettling situations. If you're questioning your husband about matters that he finds disturbing, he might not answer because he finds the topic too stressful.
Don't expect your husband to be able to read your mind. He might be unaware that his behavior upsets you. Choose an opportune time when you're both relaxed and tell him directly that you feel he's ignoring your concerns. Really listen to any explanations he offers.
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- If despite all your efforts the situation doesn't improve, consider marital counseling. Your family doctor can recommend a suitable therapist.
Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.
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