Strong but Silent? Gentle Ways to Get Your Spouse to Talk, Part II - I Do Every Day - October 6

Strong but silent? Gentle ways to get your spouse to talk, Part II

By Janel Breitenstein

So one of you is more of a talker, and the other is more of a … not-talker.

How can you deal? 

Personality type or “love language” isn’t an excuse for greed or selfishness in conversation or energy levels—just like it’s not an excuse to hole up, plug in, and tune out. 

Look for that sweet spot where you’re both getting needs met and laying down your wants. That’s marriage, right? 

Today, we’ve got more practical tips.

3. Ask permission to come in. 

  • Is this a good time, or are you in the middle of something? 

  • So can I ask you a question about that? 

  • If you disagree: So … can I push back on that a little?

Sometimes, if my husband might feel ambushed by my idea, I try, So I’m not sure you’re going to like this idea,but …(Bonus: It can have a bit of a reverse-psychology effect on a spouse: Well, you never know! I might like it!)

4. Find your rhythm.A lot of guys, in particular (though this can apply to women, too), emerge from work with an overflowing conversational percolator. They might need time to let the day filter through in order to receive more words. 

It’s counterintuitive, but if you want to converse, first give your spouse down time so they can feel like they have their whole brain back.

He or she might feel overwhelmed by a day when more ground was lost than gained. In this respect, consider asking questions that aren’t so open-ended. “What are some wins you had today?” “Any highs or lows?”

Can you find a conversational rhythm that meets both of your needs? Hint: It may involve asking for what you need and interweaving that with your spouse’s best times for conversation (which may not be at the end of the day).

Perhaps you can plan a catch-up time alone over decaf for 15 minutes after the kids go to bed. Maybe you’ll have the music off when you drive together so you can chat, or plan time alone together on Friday nights. Maybe you’ll pick a regular date night or “date in.”

5.That said, ask questions that invite your mate in. Use your exuberant social skills and warm conversation to gently, patiently mine your spouse’s depths—his or her desires, fears.

  • What was that like for you?

  • What are you afraid will happen?

  • What do you hope will happen?

  • What do you wish would happen?

Gently try to come into your spouse’s world.

  • That sounds intense.

  • That would catch me off guard.

  • That sounds like it would be really hard.

  • That sounds like a big win.

  • When I think about [a related experience from your past], I’m thinking this would be [adjective] for you. Is that what it was like? 

Then insert a questioning look―“Am I right?”

And then? Silence. Let your spouse fill in.

Click here for more conversation starters.

The good stuff: If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. (Proverbs 18:13)  

Action points: Pick one of the ideas above to incorporate into the way you draw out your spouse. Don’t forget to explore beneath the “symptom”: What heart attitudes keep you from listening well?

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