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What do you do when he won't communicate?

(8 Posts)
YouStillLookLikeAMovie Thu 24-Dec-15 13:08:09

I have been with DH for 15 years, 3 kids. Youngest is only 18 months and it probably doesn't help matters that he's an awful sleeper.

We have some issues. Not big things, but niggling things that are getting worse because they are not addressed.

I feel like they would be resolvable if only he would open up and talk. But he won't. Any attempt at discussion is shut down and taken as a personal attack. So:

- if it can be denied, it will be. "Why are you upset with me?" "I'm not"
- if it can't be denied, he'll claim it's not a big issue
- if that doesn't work, he'll huff "Well fine, I won't do X any more then, if it annoys you so much".

I just don't know how on earth to open up communication. In the past, it was less of a problem. There were fewer issues pre kids and he's also closed down more over the years.

I don't want to get to breaking point, but I can see that it might happen within the next few years if things keep building.

OurBlanche Thu 24-Dec-15 13:18:09

Yesterday I said "Don't you dare! This is easily sorted if you'd just talk to me"

That works because, after 30 years with him, I have managed to rein in my usual speech patterns, he always heard them as being accusatory and so went into defensive mode. Then we worked on him remembering that I love him, so if he heard blame it might not be what I had said. We still work on his standing silently... I have to be patient... Once we had both acknowledged that we communicate differently, and both have to make some adjustments, it became easier.

Mostly I tell him to talk to me, silence sounds sulky even if it is just thinking time.

You need a sit down chat, non combative, explore the issues from both perspectives. He may be just like mine, internalises every perceived slight and can't let go, cos everything that goes wrong is his fault.

And every time we do that dance I remember who made him like that... and why it took him so long to go NC with his siblings.

flatbellyfella Thu 24-Dec-15 13:36:16

Would he respond to a request to write down his problems on paper rather than verbally. Communication has to be made somehow to save your relationship.

YouStillLookLikeAMovie Thu 24-Dec-15 14:03:43

Flatbelly - No. He would claim he had no problems to write down. He might answer if I did. (I did that once about 13 years ago, but we were living long distance so it made more sense IYSWIM). In his family you do not have problems. You may, however, swear and mutter under your breath.

Blanche - that sounds very familiar. I don't know how I have a 'sit down chat'. He will close it down. The speech mode is definitely an issue - how did you go about changing it?

Joysmum Thu 24-Dec-15 15:08:54

I had a non communicative hubby. I got fed up and in the end told him I hoped there was a problem he was hiding as I'd had enough and this wasn't good enough for 'normal'. Over the years I've without fail pointed out that things have been so much worse by him not communicating and it wasn't fair. Gradually he's been retrained to realise that any misguided thoughts of protecting me or trying to minimise impact on the family has made it 10x worse.

OurBlanche Fri 25-Dec-15 09:55:42

Morning smile

I persisted. It took a long time, years, before I found the right way to start a chat in a way he didn't find challenging. I listened to how he was defending himself and modified my approach a little bit every time. And I kept reminding myself he is a very nice man, I love him, but his mum was extremely messed up and used him as her whipping boy, allowing / encouraging his younger siblings to do the same.

But you have to keep repeating the whole rigmarole, he isn't consistent in his response. I find myself saying "Why would I have meant that?" quite a lot - don't do that, it only encourages them to argue that they know what you are thinking better than you do smile

I know it sounds exhausting, and it can be, but I can now approach him head on and get him to stop more quickly. Though I am sure he still just backs off to avoid what he sees as an argument, so we don't ever manage to sort anything out. It is the one thing that I remain sad about, he just can't get passed the guilt he feels when I am upset and that leads to knee jerk reactions, like yours mine is prone to saying things like "Oh, well I will just stop breathing / working / doing something I like (that I have no problem with) altogether then!". If I ever took him at his word his nose would have been cut off many times, his face would be well spited smile

You'll have to decide whether this is all too much for you. I put up with it as it doesn't happen all that often and he is, otherwise, a great, supportive partner who has very few stereotypical 'male' thought patterns. We are a partnership of equals, usually!

Good luck with finding your own way of coping!

OurBlanche Fri 25-Dec-15 13:20:41

And today we have had him 'off for a pint'. No problem with that, but why wait until 11 to tell me? Quick chat about communicating such stuff in advance, have a nice pint.

He came back we peeled the veg... he kept coming back in to see if there was anything he could do... over and over and over again! Didn't even sulk when told to stop it, he just smiled and found the cheese and put it out for later, sorted a bottle of red, popped the plates in to warm and said yes he could think of such things for himself smile

That is how it goes after 30 years together! He slips, I comment, he no longer sulks withdraws (as much) he just gets on with whatever needs doing.

So don't despair, it can work out. Have a good day xx

YouStillLookLikeAMovie Mon 28-Dec-15 18:32:36

So sorry. I didn't realise I'd had more responses. Thank you for answering me.

Overall, I think he's a great person. I mean, years on MN has taught me never to count my chickens and all that, but I trust him, enjoy his company, etc, etc.

But like this morning, I made a mistake on something and I knew it annoyed him. I said sorry. But he wouldn't acknowledge he was annoyed. It was 'it's fine, don't worry'. Then grumping around. Just fucking say "God that was annoying of you" and then I can say a proper sorry and we can move on.

Or a sex one. He has got into the habit of only trying to initiate sex as we are going to sleep. I have three small children, one of whom doesn't sleep, the chances of me feeling sexy when my head has hit the pillow are minimal. Especially as he gives no signals if he wants a 10 minute quickie or something rather longer. So he ends up being turned down, or his advances not returned. And he's fine with that. But it's not nice to always be rejected. And I've shyed away from trying to discuss it because I know he'll claim he wasn't propositioning me, or he doesn't mind, or "Oh fine, I won't then". And all I want to say is "Please try at 9pm not 11pm" without it turning into me accusing him of being unreasonable.

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