Dr. Murray, my husband isn't a big talker and a lot of the time I feel really lonely in my marriage. I feel like I'm bothering him whenever I want to talk about anything. I love him very much and he's a great person. How can I get him to open up more? -Deb
Hi Deb, Your question is great and one that I think so many women can relate to. As a matter of fact, it's a common issue in my private practice. Did you know that women typically speak about 7,000 words a day and men speak about 3,000 words a day? Talking is the way women connect. We also process information and our thoughts verbally while men don't need to use their mouths to think. Shocking, isn't it? When you don't have a partner who will talk it can make you feel lonely so I would encourage you to think about a few ideas. First, don't use your husband as your girlfriend. Men don't need a lot of info and in fact, their brain "floods" when they get too much of it. So, while we gals love to give details of the baby shower we went to, usually our man just wants to know if we had a good time so save the deets for your female pals. Second, let your husband know that not having communication with him makes you feel lonely in the marriage and ask him how he likes to give and receive info best. Many men feel overwhelmed by long strings of information and do better with very short sentences in which they have an opportunity to respond. Also, perhaps the phrase men dread most is: We need to talk. So, if you begin many of your exchanges with that--or a similar--line, your husband may have turned off before you begin your conversation. You may want to start with, "Can I get your opinion about something?" or, "I have a thought I'd like to run by you." Men do well when they're Mr. Fix-It and this type of phrasing appeals to their inclination to solve problems rather than feel like they have an overwhelming issue they can't win. I hope this helps!