In her counseling session, Anne was at the end of her emotional rope. After 10 years of marriage, she said the vibe she got from her husband was more roommate than romance. When she asked about his day, he gave one-word responses, like “long.” When they went out for dinner she did all the talking. And at night, he either fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow or he was just interested in sex. Her loneliness was growing into resentment and she found herself saying, “I need to learn how to help my husband open up.”
Anne was frustrated. The more she tried, the less emotionally present her husband became. It’s not that he didn’t care; he just wasn’t on the same page. I explained how men and women connect differently and gave her these 4 tools—and she saw how her approach needed to change.
Show a genuine interest in his passions.
Your husband probably has hobbies you couldn’t care less about. But having a basic understanding of his hobby will make room for him to share his thoughts about it with you. You don’t need to participate, but it’s important that he is able to share things about it with you without having to explain it every time.
He will appreciate that you know what a carburetor is, why certain flies are used for fishing, what wins at poker, who the characters are in his favorite video game, or how his favorite sports team is doing. These things are important to him and it’s what he wants to talk about.
Be genuinely impressed by his job.
Most men need to feel like they are a hero to their families. And they often get a sense of value from their jobs. Even if they do something mundane every day, make sure to comment on things he did exceptionally well. Listen when he talks about what he does. Tell him you’re proud of him and how much you appreciate the sacrifices he makes for the family. As you do this, he will want to tell you more about himself. Try to give your husband seven times more affirmations than criticisms.
Physical connection through platonic touches and through sex.
Women need to feel emotionally connected prior to sex. Men feel emotionally connected following sex. But then they tend to fall asleep. Help him build that connection by initiating platonic meaningful touches during the hours leading up to sex. Touch his arm as you pass by. Grab his hand and kiss the back of it for just a moment. Rub his shoulders or his feet while he watches TV with the kids. He’ll become more aware of you in the process and he will begin to feel more emotionally connected.
Ask for his thoughts, not his feelings.
Most men tend to think more than feel. When you are asking for his opinions, use thinking language instead of feeling language. For instance, let’s say you need his input about your child who’s struggling with bullies at school. Ask him this way: “Honey, some of the boys in Joey’s class are teasing him about his glasses and won’t play with him at recess. What do you think about that? What do you think Joey needs from us?” Invite him to talk about things in thinking terms, not feeling terms.
This is what I tell my clients who say, “I need to know how to help my husband open up!” What are some things that have worked for you? Share them in the comments.