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How to reconnect and improve communication?

(10 Posts)
LookingForPerspective2015 Sat 03-Sep-16 00:12:59

Have been with DH for 20 years, married for 11. Two children, six and nearly three.

This year has been a tough one for our relationship. He gets low during the winter and can be grumpy and snappy when work is stressful. I went for counselling to help me with my own issues (I overreact to things and can be PA, amongst other things) and think I am much more constructive at dealing with conflict now. DH has also been making a big effort not to take his feelings out on me and the DC. So things improved for a while.

However, we both feel we don't have much in common at the moment. Personality-wise I'm interested in lots of stuff, like to know what's going on with everyone's work, feelings, social life. He's very quiet, is deeply involved in his work (which is very specialist) and is, I feel, not really interested in what I get up to. It's ended up that we're living very separate lives and not really connecting on many levels, seem to have different priorities, aren't communicating very well.

We went out this evening and had a moderately crap evening stalling arguments and totally misunderstanding each other - this is a bit of a pattern when we try to spend time together, though doesn't always happen.

We've calmly agreed this evening we need to connect better and communicate better. The problem is we have no clue how to go about that. Any wise advice out there?

LookingForPerspective2015 Sat 03-Sep-16 00:31:39

PS I maybe ought to say - things are bad enough that I can see the end of the road if we don't sort this out for the long term, and I'm really scared. If push came to shove, DH would do couples counselling with me, but we'd have to be at crisis point. I think we are approaching that, though I'm not sure he would agree.

FeedMeAndTellMeImPretty Sat 03-Sep-16 00:40:11

Hi Looking. Sorry to hear things are at breaking point. Something I've suggested elsewhere in here this evening is Intentional Dialogue - it's a way of communicating your feelings without blame or argument. Google it for more details. But in a nutshell...

You just spell out how you're feeling and then the other person repeats what you've said, so that you know they've heard and understood how you feel. Then they say "that makes sense" because if they take their perspective out of the situation and just listen to your side, it DOES make sense that you feel the way you do.

It has been a revelation for DP and I - he now knows that I'm not looking for him to fix things or change things, just to listen to how I feel and to realise (this sounds weird but its definitely a big thing...) that I AM NOT HIM!

He has always assumed that if he just put his side across that I would automatically see things the same way, but he now accepts that we are two people, with separate minds and opinions and that's ok!

LiveLifeWithPassion Sat 03-Sep-16 00:52:46

Are you affectionate with each other and kind to each other?

I think there are little things you can do to help connect like touching each other affectionately - hugs, hand on the thigh or shoulder, massage or even playful touching like a pat on the butt.

I think a lot of people forget how to be kind to each other. It can be the little actions that make all the difference. Listening without interrupting and encouraging that particular conversation to go deeper.
Buying each other little gifts.
Doing little things for each other.

Just spend more time together chatting. Go into the garden with a drink late evening or light some candles and have dinner together.

the way you talk to each other is important. Try not to make or take things personally. Talk about how you'd like things to be going forward without attacking them about the past.

LookingForPerspective2015 Sat 03-Sep-16 01:11:42

FeedMe I will definitely look into that, thank you. It sounds really useful. One of the issues we face is that sometimes I just want to talk and have a sympathetic ear (say about work being stressful), and he tries to come up with solutions. So I've just ended up talking to him less about problems I face. He's not a big talker anyway - he keeps things to himself when he's worried about stuff. Sounds like it could help with this kind of thing.

LiveLife Thank you for your (very insightful) thoughts. You're absolutely right, we're not very affectionate with each other these days. I used to make a big effort to do so but I'm finding myself actively avoiding physical contact which is awful, especially given DH is making an effort with it recently. It feels a bit like hugging a stranger somehow; it feels false. I guess I need to grit my teeth and get back into the habit of doing it. Shying away is certainly not going to get me anywhere good.

I said this evening, very gently, that I didn't feel he was very interested in my life and he didn't disagree. I used to just tell him stuff anyway and I don't bother any more, and I have to admit I've stopped asking him much about his day as it's so hard to get information out of him. He's one of those people who is very quiet and internal and has very specific interests and the rest of life just isn't that interesting to him.

We love each other for sure, but I'm so scared that's not going to be enough in the long term once we don't have the children to hold us together any more. I HAVE to fix this and I'm really frightened I can't. Can you fix a fundamental difference in personality?

FeedMeAndTellMeImPretty Sat 03-Sep-16 01:17:38

I think that you do need to find something other than your DCs to connect you. If you have very different personalities then you need a shared interest. Does he realise how serious this is? That if he doesn't engage he will be single? It can't all come from you.

RumbleMum Sat 03-Sep-16 01:26:03

FeedMe He's really worried for sure. I've said we need to do something or we'll be in big trouble and he agreed but then started to fall asleep as I was talking so I'm not sure he has the same gut-level fear I've got.

I'm looking into intentional dialogue and it looks good. We just can't seem to find a way into each other's heads at the moment and need something like this. It's going to be a tricky sell (he's not great at taking things like this seriously) but I hope he'll be open enough to try something like this - he says he'll do whatever is necessary so that's good.

FeedMeAndTellMeImPretty Sat 03-Sep-16 01:47:09

Perhaps you need to make a date to talk about it when he isn't going to nod off when you can both focus! This time of night isn't ideal for life changing decisions smile

Sleep on it and pin him down for a day and time in the morning X

LiveLifeWithPassion Sat 03-Sep-16 09:09:19

A fundamental difference in personality doesn't always have to be an issue but a partner who is not interested in you, is.
I think that's really sad if that's definitely the case. It's no wonder you don't feel affectionate towards him.
If it's just a case that you've both drifted off into living separate lives then you can reconnect by spending more time focussed on each other.
If he's genuinely not interested in you and your life then there's a fairly serious problem.

If you want to change the way you speak to each other then another suggestion is to ask questions rather than give a solution.
Ask 'what happened' to make the person feel heard and then ask a variation of 'what do you think you could do about this?' If a solution is required. Often, it isn't.
Like a pp poster said, embrace your differences and understand that what's a solution for one, is not a solution for the other (and even if it is, it's better to come up with it yourself rather than be told what to do by someone else!)

LookingForPerspective2015 Sat 03-Sep-16 09:25:51

This is all sensible advice, thank you both. It's much appreciated. Didn't get a lot of sleep last night but I feel much clearer this morning. We'll have time to talk properly this evening once the children are in bed and go from there

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