Communication Problems in Marriage

Dear Tamara:

My husband and I have serious communication problems. Because I know some men don’t like to talk, when we were dating I never wanted to force or push him to talk if he didn’t want to. But now that we are married with two kids, we need to communicate. When I try to talk to him about anything, he never gives me a serious answer, never looks at me, and gets offended like I’m putting him down. He always gets mad and throws or punches things and storms off like a little kid. Then after a half hour he acts like nothing happened and everything is fine when it’s not. I’m still upset. Our latest communication fail was about getting our son baptized. We come from different religious backgrounds. I’m Methodist, and he is catholic. Our first son was baptized Methodist. I don’t want to have our children baptized in different religions. To me, it doesn’t make sense, and I’m not a fan of the catholic religion. I expressed my feelings on this situation and automatically he got angry with me and thought I was putting down his entire family since they are catholic. The whole time I’m trying to get some type of an opinion from him, he just blows me off and says, okay, or whatever. I don’t understand why we can’t talk about everyday topics that all of humanity talks about. Is there anything I can do? It hurts me that we can’t talk.



Dear P.S.:

I certainly understand your frustration. Communication is a necessity in every type of relationship. I hear everything you are saying about your husband and his communication skills, but let me challenge you to see the situation from another perspective and to reexamine your own communication style.

One, you mention that before you got married you did not press your husband to communicate. You believed that a lack of communication was a common issue for most men, so you gave him a pass. After the marriage, you assumed that his communication style would change simply because you said “I do.” While I do believe that people do and can change, we cannot assume that any change is automatic. Your husband may feel just as frustrated as you are right now. You initially accepted his form of communication, and now you are expecting him to be completely different. What you didn’t press before now looks and feels a lot like “nagging,” and this is something that men definitely dislike.

Second, it seems that your husband is communicating with you, you just do not like what he has to say. Oftentimes when people do not share our same thoughts, we say there is a communication problem. Or when people express their feelings, and we do not agree, we either try to defend ourselves or negate their feelings. We also expect others to be more expressive and show more emotion in order to get their point across.

Three, I believe more communication should have been had on the front end of the relationship about religion and having children. As strong as your religious beliefs are, your husband’s beliefs are probably just as strong. The two of you do need to decide how you want to raise your family. I know people who have different beliefs who expose their children to both religions and allow them to make their own decisions at the appropriate age. I know other couples who compromise and meet halfway, and others who make a concrete decision to follow one religion. This is an issue that the two of you need to discuss and find a solution. It may even be necessary to seek counseling if the two of you cannot communicate and find common ground. Having a third party involved can help with the communication process. I am also concerned that you talk about your husband having anger issues and throwing things and hitting things. Unresolved anger is very serious and can escalate into even bigger issues. Don’t take these fits of anger lightly. It is important to get to the root of the anger even it means participating in anger management or additional counseling.

Lastly, I encourage you to examine your own communication skills and see if there are ways to improve how you receive and perceive information and how you communicate with others. It is easy to see other people’s flaws, but recognizing your own contribution to an ongoing problem or situation can make all the difference in the world. You might find better ways to communicate your needs and expectations as well as receive information and feedback.




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