Women are always asking me how they can get their husbands to talk. “He just won’t talk to me, Dr. Leman. I just can’t seem to make out what he’s thinking and he won’t tell me.” Women love to talk. They’re wired to be verbal. In the average day woman use about three and a half times as many words as men. To put it another way, women could write novels with their conversations while men prefer the CliffsNotes version. That’s quite a difference.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get your husband to communicate with you. But it may not happen in the way you think. And I can tell you this: getting your husband to talk isn’t going to start with interrogation. Let’s start with what not to say to your husband.
Never ask your husband “why.” Why you ask? Because it instantly puts your husband on the defensive. If your husband is trying to communicate with you and you ask him “why,” you’ve effectively killed the conversation. Asking him that is like saying, “Explain your reasoning to me because I think you’re pretty stupid and you obviously can’t figure this out without my help.” This may sound extreme but male egos are much more fragile than they appear. “Why” is a challenge to your husband, and the defensive walls that will rise from this question can make you feel as if you’re actually talking to no one.
So why not try statements instead? This may sound counter-relational, but your husband won’t hear it that way. When your husband is talking to you try saying, “Hey, that’s really interesting. Tell me more about that!” Take an interest in what your husband is talking about (even if the subject isn’t thrilling to you). If he’s into baseball he would love it if you asked him how his fantasy team was doing! Even if your husband is presenting an idea to you that you’re not crazy about, stick with the “tell me more about that” vein. Don’t ask him why he would want to do this or that. It will only clam him up.
Men and women are different creatures. But communication is possible! Let your husband know that you care about what he cares about and he’ll be more than happy to open up. Just remember—you don’t always need to know why.
To learn more about the way your husband communicates, purchase Have a New Husband by Friday. Available at all bookstores and online at Amazon, B&N and Christian Books.
Oh, my. You don’t know my husband! I don’t ask why because I want the cliffs notes version and he gives the full nine yards plus. Yikes!
You’re right, I don’t know your husband, but he is far from typical. According to the latest research a woman will use 3 and a half more words in a given DAY! Enjoy your differences, it helps keep you a married moan! KL
You are overgeneralizing. I am a very silent person while my husband would suffocate if he couldn’t talk to people constantly.
This fits my husband to a “t.”
So…is this also why they take (oh, let’s see, what time is it now?) an hour plus to get something out?
Thank you for all your work. I am a Christian Counselor and refer to you often. Your books are my recommended reading list for my clients, Christian or not. I have used your parenting videos in many parenting classes. You are an amazing Biblical reference and I thank God for the work He does through you!
HA! If I had read this 13 years ago, the first five years of our marriage would have been WAY better. I always asked why– but I really wanted to know! :) — It took me years to understand. Now, when I really want to understand, I preface with, “I’m not questioning–I really want to know this!” It’s true. WHY is a bad word.