Why Some Men Won’t Communicate In Marriage

Identify Marriage ProblemsOften, women are shocked when they come to us for marriage-couple’s-or relationship counseling and their men open up, start talking freely, and begin sharing their very deep thoughts and concerns—things they have not communicated before. Women find it nearly impossible to believe.

For the first time, in a long time, their man has opened up and women are surprised to discover that he has a lot to say. But if you asked them why their man has remained “closed mouth” when they attempt to talk at home, most women couldn’t answer that question. I’m going to attempt to provide some insight in this brief article. I’ll begin with just one word of caution. That is, I cannot speak for all men; however, much of what I want to share applies to a great many men and has been learned from our over 30 years of marriage counseling experience.

The first point I’d like to make is throughout a man’s life—from birth, childhood, his schooling, dating, marriage, and even into old age men have a lot of women telling them what to do. Many, if not most women feel the need to make suggestions, “share their ideas,” or “advise” the boy/man because they know what’s best for him.” Maybe you’ve heard the old adage that “men wouldn’t know how to come out of the rain unless a woman told them how to.” That’s really an insult. It diminishes his dignity and self worth.

It explains, in part, one of the reasons why some men have the tendency to shut down and don’t talk especially if he doesn’t feel heard. It also explains one of the reasons why some women have trouble attracting and keeping a man. Just as women want someone to talk to and be heard, validated, and understood so do men. But many men believe that they can’t “get a word in edge wise.”

If the man feels that he’s not going to be heard, he may find someone else to talk to who will hear what he has to say. And we know that there are always females who’ll give him time, attention, and conversation, or whatever. It has been reported, for example, that some men are so desperate to be heard that they will pay a prostitute just to listen to them. Also, if a man believes that he’s going to be told what to do, he’s likely to shut down and/or exit the relationship emotionally or physically.

If you are in a relationship with a man, and you believe that you have figured out a solution to whatever any given situation is, then all you have to do is to convince your man that you are right. If he raises an objection or has other ideas or alternatives to suggest, they are often not heard and/or discarded by the woman. So, when he is asked to offer an opinion, most men have decided that it isn’t going to be heard anyway so why bother saying anything. Rather than being angry or frustrated, many men decide that they don’t want to have an argument like so many others they’ve had with their woman that just wasn’t very pleasant. So, they just shut down and don’t talk.

In case women who’re reading this article wonder about how accurate my description and explanation is, let me respond by saying that this is precisely the kind of thing that men talk to each other about when they’re together at the local “watering hole.” Men simply complain that often they don’t feel heard by their woman. They don’t want to go home and argue. So, their solution is to keep quiet. Is it a solution? Absolutely not! People have to talk together to solve and resolve mutual problems—especially if you’re a couple. But many men just don’t know how to get their woman to listen, in all earnest, to what they have to say.

I also want to note that recent brain research seems to suggest that women, physiologically, may have some advantage in their ability to process a broader range of factors in considering alternative courses of action in problem identification and problem solving. Certainly, women do tend to take into account specific factors that most men just don’t think about. And while that may be true, it is also important to point out that whatever a woman may think about, it is only one point of view. Men also have a point of view too. When both points of view are offered and considered, the couple is likely to make better decisions together because considerably more perspectives are being taken into account.

To Your Relationship Success,

Jesse Johnson

  • what do i do hes not speaking to me

    My husband is angry and is not speaking to me. We have financial hardship and don’t communicate. What should I do?

    • http://mfgmarriage.com Melva Johnson

      So sorry you are experiencing your husband’s anger and unwillingness to speak to you.

      It must be very frustrating – even painful. Sometimes when people have an opportunity to “cool down” they are open to having a conversation to work things through. This may or may not be true for your husband.

      However, consider being proactive in the the following way. How you approach him is important. Consider writing a letter to him that includes an intention for working things through in a way that the two of you not only problem solve but to figure out a way to become closer as a couple.

      Own any contribution you have made to the problem, ask for forgiveness for that and even through he made a contribution as well, keep your focus on turning things around in a way that works for both of you.

      Please let me know if you’ve found this helpful and how we can further guide you!

    • http://mfgmarriage.com Jesse Johnson

      It seems that you and your husband are at a stalemate. It is unlikely that you will be able to communicate effectively on your own to resolve your problems or you would have already done so. It appears that the two of you need the support of a third party to help you get pass your impasse.

      The ideal would be for you to seek the assistance of a marriage counselor, however, you may not be able to afford it due to your financial hardship. It’s also possible that your husband might be too angry to go with you. If he is willing, I’d suggest that both of you search for free or reduced fee martial counseling help and/or go to a minister or religious leader for help who has some professional training in marriage counseling.

      If your husband refuses to go with you, I’d suggest that you go on your own for help and support in exploring ways that you might be able to open up the communications between you. Good luck and best wishes to you in what must be an extremely painful situation. Keep seeking and you’ll find the help you’re needing.

  • loveless marriage

    Married for 8 years to a man who recently was diagnosed with erectile dysfunction. Eight-nine months have passed and there has been no sex between us. No attempts by him at all. He refuses to let me buy him a pump, does not believe in performing other types of sex, such as oral sex, tells me to masterbate if I’m craving sex, tells me I’m “badgering” him and to leave him alone, recently cancelled his appointment his physician set up to see a urologist and agrees to schedule marriage councelling appointments and does not follow through.

    I’ve recently posted my profile on a dating service and told him that I’ve done it. He doesn’t act as though he believes me — but it’s true. I have other men contact me for a date and get really excited when contacted. I have shared with my husband that I have considered filing for a divorce but he doesn’t believe I’ll go through with it.

    I’m not going to beg for sex from him; just want to enjoy life like a woman should. What do you think?

    • http://mfgmarriage.com Melva Johnson

      My heart opened up to you when I read your message. Your frustration, disappointment and pain makes so much sense. No woman wants to beg for anything from her husband – including sex. I applaud you for being proactive and inviting your husband to respond to you and take care of himself and your relationship with medical care for him and marriage counseling for both of you to preserve your marriage.

      Here is my recommendation: Stay away from the dating sites for now. Even though your husband doesn’t’t believe that you will follow through on that or that you will file for divorce. At this point both actions might make things worse. You best bet, in my opinion, is to get help for yourself with a therapist who specializes in marriage counseling. He or she will assist you to work through what must be a devastating experience for you. You can also look for help in presenting your message in a way your husband can hear as well as explore additional options to support and care for you and celebrate your womanhood.

      Wishing you the best,

    • http://mfgmarriage.com Jesse Johnson

      It appears that you have been exploring various ways for you and your husband to resolve this issue. Yet, in spite of all of your best efforts, your husband seems to find a way of not participating in various possible solutions. I imagine that this, in addition to not having sex for months, must be added frustration to the situation.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if your husband was not extremely depressed. This might explain why he has been unwilling to participate in the various options you’ve suggested. I would highly recommend that both of you try some individual counseling first. He needs to address his underlying emotional feelings because of his dysfunction and his possible depression. He’s probably not feeling very good about himself right now and is likely to need help dealing with all this. I’m hoping that he will go because, based on my experience working with him like him, he needs the help!

      I suggest that you get counseling for yourself to sort through your feelings and to consider various options related to this issue. There may be options that you have not considered.

      Finally, I’d suggest that you stop posting on the dating sites for now. Such posting is likely to intensify your frustration and I don’t think that this is helpful to you right now.

      My sincere best wishes to you, regardless of the outcome.


  • Totally Taken For Granted

    My husband went to a high school reunion and started talking to two girls he barely knew in high school. Then they started communicating on Facebook. Things were not the best between my husband and I at the time either. I thought that he was completely disregarding his responsibilities at home and not prioritizing the things that “I thought” should be more important to him – like me and the kids. I am a talker, and a yeller, and he doesn’t talk at all. What usually occurs between us is that I ramble on and on about everything that is upsetting me and he just sits there and pouts. He has not talked to me about anything regarding our relationship in the last nineteen years.

    Anyway, to make a long story short, one of the girls from high school got obsessed with him but he wouldn’t stop talking to her. I found out about it because I snooped and read one of his emails. The things she said made me believe that the two of them were intimate. I got upset and confronted him. He told me that nothing happened between them and that the girl is very disturbed. He wanted to handle it himself and wished that I didn’t interfere. I asked him if he would have handled it if I hadn’t and he said yes. Needless to say, they continued to communicate through text messages every day for the next eight months. I found out about it and had a breakdown. He told me that the girl threatened to hurt herself because she couldn’t have him and he didn’t want that on his conscious. I asked him if he ever thought of what it would look like to me if I ever found out? He said that he knows what it looks like and all he can say is that he’s sorry. He then said that he finally came to the conclusion that this girl was all talk and he quit communicating with her for good.

    The problem I’m having now is that he continues to communicate with her best friend and even calls her when he’s going out with the boys to see if she can meet him out. Although I’ve expressed to him that I don’t mind if he has female friends as long as he’s open and honest with me, he keeps this from me as well. He does not know that I know about this either, and I don’t know what to do. Why is it so difficult for him to tell me the truth? How can I ever trust him again if he continues to hide his relationships with other women from me? And why can he talk so openly and freely to them, but not to me? I do not like either of these girls and wish nothing more than he stop communicating with them all together, but I would never deny him the right to have these friendships. I am open enough to accept that he is his own person and needs to have these experiences, but it hurts me that he can’t confide in me or trust me enough to tell me the truth.

    As a side note, I am going to counseling but he refuses to go with me. He doesn’t believe in counseling. Also, he will not tell me what he and the girl who was obsessed with him talked about for eight months. He says it’s because I will tell all my friends and this girl’s business is none of anyone else’s business. I believe that is a cop-out so that he doesn’t have to have this discussion with me. Can you give me some advice? I’m desperate!

  • Tall Silent One

    I stopped talking with my ex-wife when I came to the conclusion that she was insane (after about 6 years of marriage). The exercise was pointless for me. Calm discussions seemed to go completely ignored, raising my voice was pointless (I only yelled at the woman 4 times in our 17 years, those occasions involved our children’s safety). It turns out my conclusion was correct. My ex-wife is ADHD, BP, BPD, ODD, OCD.

    This goes WAY beyond communications style. It is NOT all women as I have worked both for & with women very successfully. SOME women (1/6 .. 1/3) are in fact operating from a cognitive deficit standpoint. Why bother trying to talk with them? I could sooner walk on water. I did not get married to act as someone’s therapist. I did not get married to have a pet, to have to stroke a damaged mind or self-image perpetually. In my case, I shut down because I came to the correct conclusion that there really wasn’t anyone “home” as far as my ex-wife eas concerned. I regret that I didn’t come to see the facts before 17 years of my life were wasted.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EAZ7PJVCKZVTX7RTBWTTRPBL3E wiggens

    We have been married just over 45 years and my husbands idea of communication is with notes. We haven’t a decent conversation in 45 years. Not only that we haven’t done anything together like hold hands, sex, kiss just plain nothing. He eats and sleeps in the basement, just far enough away from each other. Being married is really something I never experienced, just two people who live in the same house. We have Two separate lives I have my own friends and he hasn’t any friends, goes no where, hasn’t a computer, phone, TV and totally departed from the outside world. Just rather stay cooped up down stairs. Some may say hes gay, I don’t have any idea who would go out with him in the first place. When I do see him he looks terrible super long hair and straggly beard and wears 60s style clothes full of holes. I have tryed to say something to him and all I get back is a primative grunt or groan. All these years I’ve been confused, depressed, and wondering what the heck went wrong. I hung around and I don’t know why, and were in our 60s now and on a fixed income but have super benefits.

  • lost…

    I have been married for almost 18 years, in the beginning it was great. it usually is right? Well about 6 years ago his mother died, he was having problems at work. He then began being verbally and emotionally mean to me. I tried to support him, but I would get mad and argue with him. We then bought a new home, trying to put a band-aid on an open sore. He then re-signed from his job, his daughter went to prison and we had to take custody of her 2 year old daughter who had a lot of problems due to the life she had been living. I don’t blame her, but my husband made this experience a living hell. See, I have 5 children and he has 3. His children have children they don’t support or take care of. I try to be supportive, but no matter what I do it is never enough. He was diagnosed with bi-polar about 2 years ago and I feel as if I live in a nightmare. He went back to work this September and complains about his job everyday. Gets mad when he has to contribute any money to the household responsibilities. I make good money, I don’t need hiscmoney, but thats not the point. When he wasn’t working I worked two jobs. Not just for the extra income, I didn’t want to be home. Now he thinks his money is his and he can do whatever he wants. He has always been selfish, I learned to deal with that, but the lack of communication, respect and just being nice to me. He is always angry, can’t say anything nice to me, there is no communicating at all. He will treat me like crap, then ask me to go to a movie he wants to see. He won’t do something I want. He is a hyprochondriac (spellng is probably wrong), there is always something wrong with him. He goes to the Dr. about 3 to 4 times a month.He gets pills from 4 different Dr.’s and yes they don’t know this. He tells me he is going to kill himself and it is my fault. His father was diagnosed with Dementia about 3 years ago. I have known his family for a long time and his actions remind me of his dad’s. I’m not saying I am perfect, but I don’t know who I am anymore. I have been told so many mean things, I just don’t know anymore. I want to live a happy life. I have asked for a seperation, but he says he won’t go. I don’t want to loose my home. I rreally don’t know if I love him or am afraid to carry through with starting over. I would love to go to counseling, but he always has to blame me for everything and it always ends up worse than what it started out as. I don’t know what to do…I am 47 and confused. 

    • http://mariarmcdavis.com/ Maria Reyes-McDavis

      We were deeply touched as we read the details shared with us as you described your current marital situation. Clearly, there are multiple issues that involve you, your husband, and your children that need to be sorted out and addressed. We would strongly recommend that you seek the help and support of a competent therapist who will work with you privately. We are concerned that you need your own personal support to enable you to consider various options in deciding what’s best for you and your children. We would urge you to seek individual counseling first and if, during the course of your work, it is determined that couples counseling is required, then, that should follow your individual counseling. Our extent our heartfelt best wishes to you.

      Melva and Jesse

  • Ena

    Hmm. This all sounds great except for the fact that I do make a huge effort to just listen and empathize rather than fix. My typical response: “I’m so sorry that happened.” (Pause for a hug) “Is there anything I can do to help?” (More hug and applicable encouragement offered to let him know how great I think he is).

    This does not work. He talks to me and tells me good and bad things that happen throughout the day. But he never shares what he is personally feeling on any levels. He never expresses his feelings about me of what he feels toward me. He gropes me when he wants sex but I don’t get a lot of affection or considerate foreplay or ANYTHING. Not many hugs or anything like that unless I hug him. And if I stop being affectionate, then that’s the end of it. I am very patient but he’s about as emotionally open as a rock with me. And that’s compared to OTHER MEN!

    I never rant or nag. I always try to make him feel like a king in our home. But this just isn’t working. The only emotion I ever see coming out sometimes is negative emotion.