Marriage Counseling Tips: What to Do When Your Spouse Won't Talk

How to get a spouse's attention so that he or she will communicate with you is an issue that mystifies many couples. Spouses report trying many techniques, such as trying to talk rationally and logically, watching to see when a spouse is in a good mood, and waiting for a time when the television is off. They also share stories of begging, pleading, threatening, and finally, yelling and screaming.

If you are having problems getting your spouse to talk to you and to share feelings and opinions, here are some additional things you can do to facilitate communication. First, you have to grab your spouse's attention, which is what these tips are designed to do.

1.When you're talking to your spouse and start getting overly-emotional, lower your voice instead of raising it. This breaks the pattern of tempers escalating, followed by loud yelling. If your spouse asks what you're doing, just say that you read that lowering your voice was a way to defuse anger. Maybe your partner will decide to try it, too.

2.Write your spouse a letter or e-mail stating your feelings, requests, or questions. Include how not talking about or resolving the issues is affecting you. For example, you might say, "When you call me horrible names, I feel like I've been betrayed. I don't want anything to lessen my love for you, but I know that if this continues, I won't feel the same way toward you. Can we please agree not to call each other names (or can we make an appointment with a marriage counselor, etc.)?"

3.Buy a cute, funny, or clever greeting card and include a note asking if you can schedule a time to talk to him when you both will be uninterrupted. Some spouses have an easier time talking to their partner in a restaurant over dinner, so you could suggest making plans for going out for a meal.

Obviously, you wouldn't want to discuss your most emotional issues in public, but maybe you could use the occasion to handle some relatively routine things. And then agree on a future time to talk about the more sensitive topics.

4.When you give your spouse a card or note asking if you can schedule a time to talk, include his or her favorite candy bar or a package of chewing gum--some small item that shows you pay attention to what your partner likes. With a candy bar, you might attach a note that says, "To my sweet Sweetie--could you please let me know when we can schedule a time to talk? Thanks so much. Enjoy the candy!"

5.Make a written list of your questions and include a "yes" and "no" box next to the question. Also include boxes that say "Undecided" and "Need More Details." Be as specific as you can. For example, you might make a list of possible activities and places to go on a "date night" and ask your partner to respond. In that case, you would put a category of "Other suggestions" at the bottom so your spouse could include additional ideas. Or you could make a list of possible times during the week that the two of you could reserve for private talks. Another idea is to make a list of things you think are important to resolve, and see if your spouse agrees or disagrees.

6.Look for something to "trade" with your spouse, such as offering to take the kids to a movie so your spouse can have friends over or enjoy some private time to relax. In return, negotiate for an uninterrupted time to discuss pertinent relationship issues--maybe a relative can keep the children or they can spend a weekend afternoon with friends. Or you might offer to do a certain chore that your partner detests doing in exchange for some "talk time," which your spouse may equate with being slowly tortured. Make a creative trade-off.

7.Just because you think the tips won't work, don't prematurely discount them. I have worked with numerous clients in marriage counseling who have tried these tips or variations of them, and the results have often been amazing. Spouses who don't normally express feelings verbally sometimes respond in writing, much to the astonishment of their partners. In other cases, spouses who receive letters have initiated conversations about how the letter has opened their eyes to things they didn't realize before.

Use these seven tips to jump-start your thinking about different ways to open communication channels with your spouse. And if one attempt falls flat, try another. That's what all successful researchers do--and they don't hide behind the words, 'It'll never work." Experiment with an open mind and you may be surprised at the results.

Nancy J. Wasson, Ph.D., is co-author of Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says "I don't love you anymore!" This is available as an e-book at ,where you can also sign up for the free Keep Your Marriage Internet Magazine to get weekly ideas and support to help you improve your marriage. Nancy can be contacted at


Family Closeness: When it gets to be too close for comfort

Are you so close to your family and extended relatives that there is no room for anyone else?

I thought of this question when I realized how much time had passed while sitting on the phone talking to relatives 3000 miles away a few years ago. I could have best used that time exploring my community more, possibly getting involved in a group or organizing some event with people I didn't know. I had allowed my pregnancies, newborns, money woes, and relationship challenges to discourage me from making friends and finding a home in one of the most coveted places in the world, California.

I think many new mothers do the same. Trying to fit parenting in a life that is already crowded with family and their activities. We don't even bother to think about including new friends in the mix.

I found my way back to my childhood home briefly on the east coast about a year ago after one of my children turned one (I blogged about this in the past.) While taking a breath for a time at a familiar spot, I found myself wishing that I had taken advantage of my time in San Diego and Los Angeles more. So I increased my praying time and before long, another opportunity to return back to the beautiful state occurred.

Presently, I see doors beginning to open as I get out more both on and offline. Did I tell you that in the past I would spend a lot of time talking to old classmates too? I ditched my old Facebook account (thanks to hackers.) I had connected with all the people from the past that I was curious about, so if I died or they did, there would be no regrets. It was time to say goodbye for good to many of them. No high school reunions were necessary, I had, had my fill online -- many of those photos said it all! It was time to make room in my life for people I didn't know.

I think sometimes we lean on family and friends (whether toxic or not,) because we are either too lazy, too scared, too ignorant, too insecure, too mean-spirited, too troubled, too depressed or too something else to connect with anyone outside of our inner circles. Some of us have been recycling the same old toxic family members in the hopes they will change only to get hurt again and again by them! Sometimes "our kind of people" are really not our kind of people just human beings that we just so happen to know by no choice of our own.

I think this issue of family closeness is not only healthy, great, wonderful and all those other positive words to describe it, but it can also suffocate our dreams, opportunities and new life experiences. Sometimes it takes one person in the family (usually older) to tell us "to get away from the family, stop worrying so much about the family, and live your life!" Take heed to his or her liberating advice!

Nicholl McGuire


They Told Me I Didn't Know What I was Talking About, But Now I Do

When I wasn't a mother I had my opinions just like everyone else (who never raised children,) they told me I didn't know what I was talking about, but then my turn came and oh how enlightened I had become!

Being a mother of four, I can tell you it is no walk in the park! It is easy to write a book, make a video and do other things to encourage others, but when you live motherhood each and every day (without daycare or family) it is grueling!

People will tell you, "I understand." No you don't. You really can't comprehend the hormonal changes, the strong willed, hypersensitive, active group I got! However, to help some understand just how challenging motherhood can be, I suggest you offer your time, money and any other assistance you can give when you see a mother has her back up against the wall! I recall a few scenes as I write where strangers helped me open doors for my children seated in a double stroller, another scene where someone dropped money in my hand and told me to buy the children something with it, and plenty of scenes where people prayed for me! These are blessings in disguise when you least expect it!

Mothers don't just scream just to be screaming about issues in the household, over the phone, via email, or at the workplace, they have real aches inside their minds, bodies and spirits! Something or someone on the outside contributed to her woes, no matter how much we reason by saying, "She should have, could have..." She is crying for various reasons some that are easily understood and others more challenging. How dare anyone assume that because she cooks, cleans, cares for the baby, runs errands and does other duties that she is happy? Just because someone goes to work everyday, doesn't make them content? There are many women that no matter what you buy or do for them, it isn't going to resolve the issues that she repeatedly her family to do.

The best Mother's Day is the one that she doesn't have to worry over the following: getting bills paid, a table being a mess, the floor being sticky, closets not being organized, looking for someone to watch her children, relatives' criticisms, a partner's weak reactions to temptations, childrens' temper tantrums, and friends' petty attitudes about her not calling them. These are just some of the many examples of the worries she rather not have! Mothers everywhere are looking for the gifts that don't come in small or large packages, but the ones that come from the heart! So if she turns up her nose about the gift you gave her or act ungrateful, it is because she is expecting more from you, the kind of things that can't be wrapped up in a bow!

If she is a spiritual mother, she is looking for the gifts that only God can fulfill, the ones that He uses people to create. The kind of gifts that result from an understanding from those who she loves. Those are the real gifts! Those are the true gifts!

May God bless you and yours this Mother's Day,

Nicholl McGuire
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Over 20 years office work experience, six years completed college coursework, background in print media and communications, recognized for exceptional attendance and received merit increase for past job performance, self-published author and part-time entrepreneur, Internet marketing and social media experience. Interned for non-profit organization, women's group and community service business. Additional experience: teaching/training others, customer service and sales. Learn more at Nicholl McGuire and Nicholl McGuire Media

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