I watched this husband shut down right before my eyes. In their counseling session, his wife shared her frustrations with his lack of emotional participation. She angrily talked about all the things he didn’t do. I then asked him how it made him feel to hear what she was saying. He said, “I feel like I can’t do anything right anyway, so why bother.”
Wives say, “My husband won’t communicate.” We want them to talk but unknowingly, the things we do to get them to talk are the very things that shut them down. Here are 4 common things wives do to shut husbands down and some better ways to get them to listen, participate, and open up.
Everyone feels defensive when told they are the reason someone is upset. Telling your husband that he is the problem will cause him to protect himself and disconnect from what you need him to hear. You become his problem instead of the behavior being his problem. Getting him to actively engage in what you need is more likely if you tell him what you need and how his actions feel to you.
Use the formula When you___. I feel___. I need___. Don’t say, “You only think of yourself and I’m tired of being the only person who cares around here!” Say, “When you play video games at bedtime I feel abandoned and overwhelmed with responsibility. I need your help to make bedtime go smoothly.”
Walking in the house after a long day of being apart is not the right time to hit him with a ton of information or with your needs. It’s important to have a transition time where connection is the priority. Don’t discuss all the difficult things you’ve had to deal with or discuss problems with the kids. Do tell him you missed him and how nice it is to see him. Save the hard stuff for at least 30 minutes and only after you’ve made a connection with each other.
If your husband won’t communicate be mindful of how frequently you correct him, criticize his actions, or make demands of him. Most of us do it without really thinking about it. When he hears mostly corrective communication from you he will feel inadequate and shut down. He may start to passive aggressively avoid the things you want from him. Try to give seven positive affirmations and words of appreciation to every one corrective or critical thing you say.
Try to give seven positive affirmations and words of appreciation to every one corrective or critical thing you say.
Not Trusting His Parenting Style
Moms and dads approach parenting differently. Don’t expect your husband to think and act like you would toward your children. Men and women think different. Children benefit from his differences. Dads are typically less emotional and more behavior focused. It doesn’t mean you can’t give him input about your child’s emotional needs. It means you may also learn something from how he views things. If you run interference he may decide that fighting you isn’t worth it and defer to your way of doing things. That would be unfortunate for your kids.
Which one of these do you think is the easiest trap to fall into?