Like Rome, marriages aren’t built in a dayPublished 8:00am Sunday, May 11, 2014
Column: The Nice Advice, by Leah Albert
Editor’s note: The Tribune is proud to present a new feature each Sunday, an advice column with a local approach.
Question: How do you get your partner to open up to you? I’m a very expressive person, but I’m having a hard time getting my husband to have a deeper conversation than what to have for dinner.
— Full of Angst in Albert Lea
This is probably one of the most common dilemmas that couples face. Each person does express him or herself differently. But even if someone isn’t talkative, he or she should make an effort to connect meaningfully with his or her partner.
However, good communication is a two-way street. Each partner needs to make an effort to meet the other where they’re at. Perhaps your husband hasn’t had a lot of practice or there might be something on his mind that he doesn’t want to burden you with. It’s best to approach the issue in a non-confrontational manner and understand it might take some time for him to open up.
The worst reaction is to expect him to change right away or get angry with him for his lack of attention. Many people will express their affection in ways that aren’t as apparent — such as helping to wash dishes after you’ve made dinner or putting on your favorite CD when you come home from work.
You can start by letting him know you want to make an effort to connect with each other. You can write it in a (love) letter and tell him you want to invest more time in each other because he’s worth it and so is your relationship.
Talk with your husband to find out when he’d prefer to talk. Right after work when people need to unwind from a hectic day probably isn’t ideal.
Strive to remove distractions during your one-on-one time: put down the smartphone, turn off the TV and wait until the kids have gone to bed. Focus solely on one another and what you have to say. Often undivided-attention can get even those strong and silent-types to open up.
It’s important for couples to set aside time to talk to each other. Life, and all that it entails, is busy and overwhelming, and even more so if you have kids. Setting aside non-negotiable one-on-one time to check in with each other shows that you value each other, your relationship and keeping it healthy. This might not happen every day, but make a goal to try at least once a week.
I would guess since you’re writing for help with this situation, you’re in the relationship for the long run. You’ll find that every investment you make in allowing your partner space, time to open up to you in his own way — he may just want to sit with you in quiet at first, and it’s important to respect this — and acceptance of who he is, imperfections and all, will pay off.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in day and neither are strong, healthy relationships. Keep up with the one-on-one time and you might find that your conversations broaden beyond “How was your day?” sooner than you thought.
Leah Albert is a fictitious character. She likes wine and writing. Don’t ask her to be a matchmaker. Do send your questions to Leah at email@example.com.