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DH has always been a quiet man but now it feels worse

(51 Posts)
ladyluckylula Tue 22-Oct-13 23:30:57

I'm so worried about my relationship with my dh. He has always been quiet. I knew that when I married him. But now it feels like we don't communicate very well at all. I end up asking all the questions and making all the effort. I feel like he comes in from work with nothing to bring to the table. No stories, no jokes, no questions. Its baffling.

I can't understand and get so cross about it and then end up blurting it all out which I know must make it worse. He says he can't change and 'that is the way he is' but I think it's got worse. He's got lazy. All of the romantic gestures have disappeared as well. It's like he's lost his imagination.

We have two kids (4 and 2) and he's fantastic with them. He chats and plays and jokes with them. Sometimes I hear him ask my dd a question. Might be something simple like 'what was your favourite bit of today?' and I think.... He wouldn't dream of asking me that! I don't want him to treat me like a child but I just wish some magic and wonder and excitement would come back.

18 month ago I remember having a conversation with a friend who had got divorced and actually thinking 'I can't relate to that happening at all' and now here I am wondering if he is the right person for me. I keep thinking as he gets older its going to get worse and worse.

I love him but it drives me mental and it's such a massively important part of the relationship. I work from home a lot and although have a fabulous support network of amazing friends I still want that intimate, happy, fun wonderful thing with my husband. I told him to many times now ... he just gets angry, goes even more quiet, doesn't look at me. But what else am I going to do? I just think he needs to learn how to be more active in a conversation. It all starts with questions but also an interest and desire to learn more from the other person. If he doesn't have that then we are truly screwed.

MorrisZapp Tue 22-Oct-13 23:39:11

Oh man. I can relate to this. Have nearly ended it with DP a few times when the lack of chat was getting me down. What pisses me right off sometimes is when I overhear him talking to a friend on the phone, laughing, being animated and sounding like an engaging character. Then the convo ends and we sit in silence.

Fwiw, I've made my peace with it. I get my chat and stimulation elsewhere. I do value DPs many qualities and I do want him in my life. Seeing him with DS reinforces this.

I don't know how to advise you, but I think the nation is groaning with chatty women going demented with monosyllabic men. You're not alone.

MrsTwgtwf Wed 23-Oct-13 00:44:56

I sympathise, OP. sad I've sent you a PM, hope you don't mind. smile

Stealmysunshine Wed 23-Oct-13 03:29:03

I feel your pain OP.

My Dp has his moments but my frustration mostly when we are out! We'd be at a restaurant, for example, and I'll be pulling teeth and talking about curtains just so we're not sitting in silence and as soon as we get in the car/back home he's blabbering away, by this point I'm usually already seething at him..

With my problem though I can just about tolerate it because its not all the time, and I have learnt that somedays he just not in the mood to talk, so I get my entertainment from MN instead and other forums.

My advice is if he wants to be quiet then leave him to it and do your own thing.

MrsBranestawm Wed 23-Oct-13 03:31:11

Beat me to it, MrsT!

beachesandbuckets Wed 23-Oct-13 03:56:22

Same here. I ask him how his day has been, he grunts, and doesn't ask me likewise. If I pull him up on this, he gets grumpy.

And then I hear him being a bundle of laughs with dcs.

He is normally a nice dh, so just grin and bear it.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 23-Oct-13 06:53:43

I am glad he at least makes the effort with your DCs but with a DW it shouldn't be an effort, should it?

It's not unreasonable to want some attention in the form of chat and easy communication. I assume you are prepared to listen as well as converse. Romance and novelty - "date nights" - might be harder to keep at a consistent level but to clam up is unkind.

I understand if my DH wants time to switch off after work and relax but we still manage to communicate. If he shut down I'd feel lonely and ultimately neglected. Silence is golden and all that but there's a limit. How much can you push for what he finds hard to give?

If he is an avid texter or always on his phone (you haven't mentioned it so I guess not) I think I'd be livid.

If there are no other signs that he's switching off from you, (loss of intimacy, more time spent working and outside interests that fill up his time), it may just be the way he is so you have to decide if a varied social outside the home and contacts you have through work are enough to fill the gap.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 23-Oct-13 08:03:48

Sadly, if it's 'just the way he is', and he's been like that from the off, he's telling you that he has no intention of behaving any differently. This is as good as he gets. FWIW I can't imagine being in a relationship with someone that blanked me.... I can't even imagine having a friend that behaved that way.

swallowedAfly Wed 23-Oct-13 08:23:52

generally for me this was when i realised i didn't want to be with someone. i can actually remember the moment i realised it in one relationship and knew it was 'the end' - i wasn't feeling great and we had gone out for a meal and feeling a bit flat i wasn't chattering away and 'making' the evening and without me doing that it was just a dull, heavy silence. i saw he was perfectly happy to just live off my energy. if i went quiet he wouldn't take up gauntlet but just sit there and look at me and if i didn't resume ask me what was wrong.

to me it was where the illusion of who they were and how they made me feel subsided into the reality and then i stopped conjuring the illusion and nothing was there itms.

however i obviously wasn't married and i didn't have children with these guys so obviously your situation is very different.

thing is i don't think people can change that about them - they either have that spark and interest and passion about life, you, ideas etc or they don't. glad he's making an effort with your children but maybe that's because they're young and when it becomes more grown up engaged conversation he'll clam up with them too?

fortyplus Wed 23-Oct-13 08:27:39

I left my dh last year - he was just like this. Took me 28 years - don't leave it that long.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 23-Oct-13 08:30:48

That's a good point about grown-up conversations. Does he socialise much, have friends, show an interest in others, pick up the phone to parents or whatever? If not, then it really is his core personality. However, if he can can be sociable with others and engaged with his children it would mean the only person he feels it's OK to be morose around is you.

ladyluckylula Wed 23-Oct-13 12:33:28

It's so complicated ...
He's always been quiet but there were a few factors different which I think kept us afloat (or kept me stimulated enough). We had more money as now job situs have changed. So we both loved travel, skiing etc and now that is not possible. So a shared interest in travel has gone. We now have kids. Exhausting. But he loves being with them and is amazing with them. But it's almost like before we had kids, he used to treat me a bit like a kid sometimes even sometimes with the odd tickle fight! Sounds weird but it wasn't. Now I'm 'mum' so I have a different role I think and it's changed everything.

My main problem seems to be when he gets in from work. We both put the kids to bath and bed, read story. Then we go downstairs and he wants to put the tv straight on. Sometime I have work to do in the evenings aswell but not often (I freelance from home) So time together is precious. Simple things that I find easy to think of just don't enter his head to ask me. I have banged on again and again about romantic gestures. God, I would love a bunch of flowers occasionally. But it rarely happens. He used to be quite romantic and thoughtful.

I do wonder if he is borderline aspergers. But looking at the test, there are many things that he's fine with.

One thing I've always found weird is he doesn't dream (or remember his dreams) I'm just so different. I'm creative and sometimes impatient and scatty. It's like we go at different speeds.

He does have friends. Lifelong since they were kids friends and he does meet up with them.

He reads a lot of fiction, loves films etc but doesn't ever say things like 'the book I'm reading is getting so good' or 'That film we watched has really haunted me' it's like it goes in and it comes straight out.

I guess it is just the way he is. But I've tried to make him see that you can learn how to communicate better even if it takes a bit more thought and effort. Was looking at getting him the famous 'how to win friends and influence people'. Might really piss him off though.

We had a terrible row last night as I find if we don't engage in anything meaningful during the evening and it feels flat, he we get into bed and I feel like exploding. I think, as he gets older it's going to get worse and worse. It feels like we're a couple of pensioners at times.

We do get intimate sometimes but as we have had these issues that keep rearing their head it gets harder. I just end up thinking I'm to blame and I pick on him. I also sometimes think 'I wish he would make me feel fantastic - make me laugh, tell me a story from his day that we can talk about' but then maybe it's not his job to make me feel anything. I have to do that by myself. Maybe I demand too much. As he says 'there's always something'. But does the perfect guy exist. He does have a lot of qualities like being calm, logical and trustworthy.

To be honest I used to get a lot of stimulation from working and the amazingly funny and witty individuals that I worked with. I miss that. I just sometimes wonder why on earth I choose him. I hate to say that out loud. I do love him.

DontMentionThePrunes Wed 23-Oct-13 12:39:18

Yes, exactly what MorrisZapp says, except I haven't nearly ended it. I am a terrible introvert myself, although I'm sociable. Coming to terms with essentially no longer having a joint social life (because he doesn't really want to) has been very very hard. But I need my silent time too and I'm sure he is driven mad by me introducing him to new people in the hope that he'll click with someone. We're a bag of contradictions really.

That said, I was reading the thread about unromantic things partners say, and read a few out to him. I realised that he doesn't ever really say things to me, romantic or unromantic. It's very hard sometimes. But we have ds and I'm in it for the long haul with them both.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 23-Oct-13 12:42:36

My own DF is a fairly introverted type. Happier one on one than in a room full of people. Happier quietly reading or watching TV than engaging in lively conversation. My DM is the polar opposite. 50-odd years they've spent together... her complaining that he's dead boring & never wants to do anything. What a rotten waste of a life. hmm

Mrsmindcontrol Wed 23-Oct-13 12:52:01

My marriage was like this. I left exH 2.5 years ago because I just couldn't face a lifetime of having to instigate every conversation, feeling rejected, blanked & at times, actively disliked. On a long car journey once, I stayed silent, waiting for him to talk to me. He said NOTHING, not one word for FOUR HOURS. hmm

We did (do!)have 3 children together & I won't lie and say it's been easy since but I'm so very much happier now. Am with a new DP who is very chatty, engaging & interested. So much better. It's changed the way I feel about myself more than I can say.

It's a shame, exH was/is a good man but the 'bond' we had before we had kids died away with the stresses of parenthood leaving us with a foundation of nothing at all.

JeanSeberg Wed 23-Oct-13 13:00:13

Agree with fortyplus, don't be that couple in the pub/restaurant sitting there with nothing to say to each other.

You can analyse it all you like but your personality types don't sound matched and sadly there's nothing you can do about that.

swallowedAfly Wed 23-Oct-13 13:04:47

i don't think it's about introversion in this instance. it sounds kind of witholding tbh if the OP has talked to him about it and he still doesn't make any effort.

it's not like it's that hard to say, 'how was your day? how's that piece of work going?' when it has been spelt out to you that it hurts your life partner not to be spoken to.

if it's too much effort to make a bit of conversation with someone you know is feeling hurt and frustrated by you not doing so then.....?

it does sound like you're just 'mum' now and that's not fair.

ladyluckylula Wed 23-Oct-13 13:19:12

He does sometimes ask me things. It has got better than it was. I have had a conversation with him about finances and I know that for some reason the drop in finances has affected him greatly. He doesn't share that burden with anyone and he says 'it's a mans job to sort out problems not talk about them' sounds so old fashioned. I couldn't believe he said that.

But it's not like we are in terrible debt or anything. But it's done him no good at all mentally. He's not a big go-getter but wants to provide for his family. Maybe I had pushed things in the past trying to get the house up together. But again the issue is communication.

At the moment the thought of us separating would tear me apart. But that's because of the kids. I just think if we could get some more fun 'us' time together it would bond us again.

It's so good to know there are others out there with similar issues. I've tried calling him. Didn't pick up.

ladyluckylula Wed 23-Oct-13 13:23:30

Has anyone tried actually writing down a list of suggested questions for him to say? Or setting a little 'find a story' type of quest. Like, listen in to somebody's conversation, find a newspaper article to talk about etc. It might sound patronising but I feel like he needs to change his habits and then it will flow better. Am I being too hopeful. If he doesn't have that spark he just doesn't have it ..... I want spark.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 23-Oct-13 13:36:13

You can't turn someone into something they're not. Especially if they tell you 'it's how I am'. You either have to take them on face value and love them exactly the way they are warts and all, or you have to reject the person and move on.

swallowedAfly Wed 23-Oct-13 13:42:57

only you know if it's temporary, to do with your life stage, a phase or just who he is and always has been ladyluckylula.

if he's always been like this then no, i don't think he's a puppy that can be trained to behave in ways you'd like him to be you know? people can change habits and ways but only if they really, really want to and even then god knows it's damned hard not to fall back into the same old patterns and habits that you wanted to change.

Mumsyblouse Wed 23-Oct-13 14:06:12

Trying to change him is just not going to work, he doesn't want to know what you think about XYZ article and that's that.

You either accept he's a quiet type of person and get your kicks/interest/intellectual stimulation from friends/work if you rub along nicely in other ways or you decide you really can't face the blank wall for another 40 years and get divorced.

If you keep saying 'if only he's do this' then you will always be disappointed. I also think he has taken to heart the loss of his income quite badly and probably is internalizing all his feelings about this as well.

I have plenty of friends with husbands a bit like this- in the main, the happier ones see that having a partner who doesn't mind being bossed about a bit, but is happy to go along with what you like doing, or support your dreams and goals but isn't that stimulating himself, is a good thing. If you see it is a very bad thing and can't reframe it, it will eat away at you.

Dahlen Wed 23-Oct-13 14:14:12

Like some PPs I think the harsh fact is that you have to decide to put up with it or leave. He won't change.

FWIW, I wouldn't tolerate this. I am quite extroverted in a social setting, but very quiet at home. I am good at sitting in companionable silence and I like it. Noise and inane chatter do my head in (why did I have DC? wink). However, I don't consider anything my DC or my BF has to say as inane chatter because - and this is the crux as I see it - I am interested in them. How their day has gone, how they feel, things they've picked up from others/the news - all these things matter to me because these people matter to me.

This is only my own perspective, not psychology fact, but IMO that level of conversation is akin to a complete lack of interest. A way of saying "you don't interest me" which is not only incredibly rude but also incredibly disrespectful. There doesn't have to be constant conversation to show someone you're interested in their POV and their feelings.

I wish I had a solution for you, but if you've spelled it out and he still doesn't care enough to ask a few simple questions and listen to your answers, I'm not sure I could stay. Sorry. sad

lurkinglorna Wed 23-Oct-13 14:23:13

I was discussing this with someone a couple days ago (about another "reserved person", not you OP smile)

Came to conclusion its passive aggressive to just "declare yourself a quiet type" then expect the other to work round it.

people are talking about "chatty women and quiet men" but I think the "quiet men" force the women to be extroverted and "work it" like a performing seal? Dominant and bossy and taking social charge is not my natural personality -I'd feel unfeminine and angry if I had to be like that all the time. BUT its the one I'd have to develop if teamed up with someone who acted like a 12 year old gamer, not cool.

It's like someone who is always submissive, it's actually quite controlling, demanding the OTHER person has to chase after them socially or sexually so they can feel uber desirable.

The chap in question isn't a partner or someone I'm dating but a (possibly soon to be ex) friend.

He goes to every effort to be seen as "calm, logical, and trustworthy" as you state OP. But what that means is he basically doesn't engage - in every interaction he is "nice and polite" but it's all a "protecting my image" exercise, avoiding disapproval by trying to control the interaction. It's essentially selfish and creepy, not reserved and polite?

I needed to speak to him about something quite serious, and literally EVERY reply was some vague straw man argument or "trying not to make anyone think I'm wrong". I think he had a dominant angry mother, and just shut down at "taking emotional risks" at any stage? (and by emotional risks I mean basically ANYTHING that isn't going to lead to the other saying "awww you're such a perfect guy aren't you, you never say anything wrong?")

ladyluckylula Wed 23-Oct-13 14:27:51

Mumsyblouse: you have hit nail on head. he is actually very happy to go along with me. v supportive of my interests etc. But at the end of the day ( and I think this is due to my situation with being at home alot) I need something more stimulating when he comes through the door.

I know deep down he won't change. Just got to work out if grass would be greener? and if I had someone who was self-obsessed abd out at the pub every night of the week I wouldn't be happy either.

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