Have you ever wondered, “Why doesn’t my spouse talk to me?” There could be a lot of different reasons he or she won’t talk to you in deep, meaningful ways. “If your spouse never talks to you or shares his/her feelings, could there be a reason? Listen as Mark Gungor talks about this common problem in marriages in this bonus clip from his Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage seminar.”
When You Talk to Your Spouse
Consider: Could it be that your spouse didn’t feel “safe” when he or she opened up to you when he or she talked to you in the past?
“You cannot un-ring a bell. After you’ve said something, you can’t take it back. It may seem like a good idea to say something at the time, but your partner will hang on to that hurt. There’s a huge difference between being genuine and being brutally honest. If your partner shares his or her vulnerabilities and you attack them, you violate the trust and emotional integrity of your relationship. When you vent, you treat your partner as the enemy. It’s a lose-lose situation. Before you say something that could be disastrous, give yourself breathing room. This doesn’t mean that you should be dishonest, but it does mean that you should think twice before talking.” (Dr Phil McGraw)
Just because you’re married, it doesn’t give you a license to be mean-spirited and disrespectful in the way in which you speak to your spouse. That is true, no matter how he or she speaks to you. As told in God’s word, “Put away perversity from your mouth. Keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” (Proverbs 4:24) Treat your spouse “as unto the Lord” and you will do well. “The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21)
When you talk, here’s something to consider:
“Are your words controlled by a desire to seek peace and unity, or are they driven by your fleshly desire to sting, aggravate, retaliate, control, alienate, shame, and manipulate through sarcasm? The enemy is camping out at the gate of your marriage. He is lurking about, seeking to find that one open crevice where he can enter. If he has been entering in and camping out in your home through the use of sarcasm [or any other verbal barb], it is time to cast this verbal enemy out and lock the gate behind him. Die to yourself. Fill your heart and mind with the words of Christ, and allow His love, peace, and compassion to be the source of every word that proceeds from your mouth.” (Dale and Jena Forehand)
Apply the following principle:
“Utilize your teeth as gates that prevent ugly speech ‘creatures’ from getting out and gnawing on your spouse (or anyone else for that matter). Worse than having poor communication skills is having the ability to clearly articulate your thoughts if all you want to do is say something mean or demeaning. Never say anything that will confuse or hurt anyone and start being good by practicing on your spouse. Think of mean speech as a verbal dagger aimed for the heart. Never is there an acceptable reason to be mean.” (Paul Friedman)
“With our words we either beat the life out of our marriage or we cultivate, feed, and water it to ensure happy years ahead.” (Jim Daly) Prayerfully consider, is there any chance that your spouse feels you have “beat the life” out of him or her with discouraging, hateful words? They may be words that you never “meant” to say and you’re sorry now for saying them. But they went deep into your spouse’s heart and he or she now backs up from talking much to you about anything that could spark that kind of response from you again.
“Proverbs 18:21 tells us, ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue’ (NKJV). Words are powerful. You can kill your spouse’s spirit with negative words—words that belittle, disrespect, or embarrass. You can give life with positive words—words that encourage, affirm, or strengthen. Say something kind and life giving to your spouse today and see what happens.” (Gary Chapman)
Make it Your Mission to Rebuild
It may take more times than once or twice, but make it your mission to start speaking kindly. Show your spouse by your words and deeds that you are a safe marriage partner within your marriage circle.
“The vast majority of marriages could be greatly improved if couples would follow this simple advice: BE NICE. Oddly enough, many people believe that because they are married, they do not have to be nice. It is as if they think that their marriage license is a license to be mean and nasty. Oh, they would never say that, but that is certainly how they act.” (Mark Gungor)
So… is that how you are acting within your marriage? Are you acting towards your spouse in a way that is KIND, as the Bible tells us to do? Remember what we’re told in the Bible: “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other’” (Galatians 5:15 NIV).
Words matter. Just read the book of Proverbs alone, and you will see what God says about the importance of our words. When you talk, talk in such a way that honors your spouse and God.
When You Talk With Your Wife Remember
With your wife, remember, they shut down from talking to you if they don’t feel safe because your words have stung them in the past. A woman needs to feel safe and honored. It’s like what Gil Stieglitz, in the book, “Marital Intelligence” wrote:
“Without honor, a woman withers and no longer sees the point of the marriage; it becomes a useless charade. Every day she waits for her husband to value her ideas and contributions. Every day she longs for his attention. But in many cases, it never comes. Days without honor are like a starvation diet, and eventually a woman can’t take the deprivation anymore. She doesn’t receive enough from the marriage to tolerate the hassles of married life, so she leaves. Perhaps she’ll leave physically or emotionally, psychologically, or even morally. Her soul receives nothing from her husband, so what’s the point?
“It isn’t that he forgot her birthday. It’s that every day she is slammed with the reality that she doesn’t matter to him. His job is more important, his television programs are more important, the kids are more important, his hobbies are more important, and the latest phone call is more important—almost everything takes precedence over her. The devalued wife realizes she is very low on his list of priorities. It is the accumulation of these blows that requires she take action. She needs and expects so much from the man but feels more like an employee than a wife.”
The National Institute of Marriage gives this advice:
“There are two words that contribute a great amount toward safety in marriage. If spouses engage one another from the postures that these words represent, there is a strong likelihood the marriage will move in a direction that feels good. The two words are soft and slow. Slowing down and softening your tone of voice, your words, your body language and expressions, your pace, your heart, etc. can have dramatic effects. Try it on for size the next time you interact with your spouse and see what happens over time.”
– Additionally –
When you talk or argue with your spouse, here’s some great advice:
“Practice the pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.” (Toby Mac) “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)
With your Husband:
Prayerfully consider something that Gil Stieglitz writes about this matter:
“Most men would never admit it, but they perceive talking with their spouse much like a visit to a psychologist. They want to talk while she listens with rapt attention, asking relevant questions with no emotional reactions. After sufficient trust is built, the wife can provide insight. Men repeatedly return to the same relationships, incidents, and situations for reassurance. It is through these conversations that men express emotions they have difficulty verbalizing.
“Men want their wives to be a ‘lightning rod’ who can draw away the raw electricity of the emotions they feel. A man longs to have a woman who is able to draw out his thoughts and emotions without judgment. There must be a level of trust and guaranteed comfort that will continue when the conversation ends.”
When You Talk
Author and counselor Carrie Oliver wrote the following about this issue:
“If your actual words, or even your tone of voice, communicate any message of disgust or resentment, he’ll probably tune you out by thinking, ‘She doesn’t understand.’ You want your message to be heard, and if he senses condemnation, wrath, or rejection he’s not likely to listen to what you say. He’ll interpret those messages as nagging, and that will only drive him to the safe place of more buddy video game playing. Nobody nags him there!”
It could even be that your “talking styles” are different. “A man talks best when he’s spraying WD-40 on something or hammering something. Men talk better when they fight.” (Charles Lowery) They have a tendency to be more of side-by-side talkers, rather than face-face-to-face talkers.
“Practice ‘by the way’ conversation—with men who are shy about talking, it helps to first join them in any kind of activity they enjoy. (Yes, I did say any kind of activity they enjoy.) As you relax and have fun together, their talking tends to happen naturally, ‘by the way.’” (Becky Freeman)
Here’s something that Sheila Wray Gregoire writes about this matter:
“Remember that men tend to communicate side by side, rather than face to face. They like talking while they’re doing something. They don’t tend to like just sitting around and talking face to face, the way we women do. So the more you can find things to do, the more you’ll likely communicate. And if you start laughing and finding things to do together, he’ll probably want to be with you more.
“So rather than attacking him with accusations that he doesn’t want to spend time with you, or that you want him to do something that you want to do, try to find things that he enjoys doing that you can do with him. Do this, even if you have to stretch yourself or go outside of your comfort zone. The best thing that you can do for your relationship is just to learn to be friends again. So try that out!”
This is true whether you are the husband or the wife reading this. Do what YOU can to talk to your spouse in friendship and try to show your spouse that you are his or her friend, not foe.
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