Even though my hubby’s more of an extrovert than I am, he still struggles to fully engage in a deep conversation with me. That’s because it’s easy for an extrovert to remain on the surface.
Oh sure, they love to talk! They’re ever scanning a crowd for an opportunity to strike up a conversation, especially with strangers. But initiating a deep “heart-to-heart” with their loved ones (especially when they’re male extroverts) is not high on their priority list.
The shallow waters are just fine, thank you! 😉
However, many times the disengaged spouse is an introvert—sometimes an extreme introvert. Therefore, opening up and conversing might not even be in that person’s skill-set, much less comfort zone.
But when a mate disengages, especially a husband, there might be other issues at play that are creating more polarization than would occur if those issues were dealt with differently.
That’s what I’m going to focus on for today’s post . . . Doing some key things differently, in an effort to encourage reengagement—bringing the relationship more back into balance.
Often there’s something of a tug-of-war that occurs when one spouse hungers for more engagement from the other. But just like a tug-of-war, if you drop the rope, your mate will come hurdling toward you.
Though the momentum of that “hurdling” force won’t be replicated (Thank goodness! Someone could get hurt!), you’ll increase the likelihood of drawing your mate to you through these methods.
1. Accept your mate’s quietness.
If you don’t accept your mate’s quietness or limitations in this realm, then your mate will probably want to avoid you. And certainly won’t be motivated to talk more with you, simply because you’re complaining about it.
If your mate is like my hubby, he often has days when he’s much more talkative than others. When I know that he’s not in a “talkative” mood, I don’t let this turn into an opportunity to criticize his disengagement.
I simply wait until a day and time when he’s more open and avoid pouting until that day comes! 😉
2. Patiently wait for “open” conversation moments.
This means asking Open-Ended and Non-Intrusive Questions (OENIQ) whenever you’re together. When and if your mate refuses to answer, then share your thoughts.
But remember to also allow for silence. If you constantly end up “filling the space” because you’re uncomfortable with silence, then you may be inadvertently pushing your disengaged spouse further into his/her shell.
Here’s a silly little riddle for you . . .
3. Do an activity together.
Find something that both you and your spouse enjoy doing together, then ask (OENIQ) as you go for a walk, or go for a car ride, or work on a project together, or play a game together, etc. There’s just something soothing and disarming about doing something while you talk. This is especially true for men. In fact, this is the preferred way that men relate to each other—over activities.
4. Encourage same-gender friendships outside of your marriage—for both of you.
If you’re the disengaged spouse, this will help you to practice connecting with others. In time, that will improve your conversation skills, making deeper conversations with your mate more comfortable.
On the other hand, if you’re the engaged but frustrated spouse, this will aid your need for emotional connection. Sometimes your frustration over the lack of engagement can create too much pressure on your marriage. By having a support network of same-gender friends, you disperse that neediness—relieving the pressure on your mate. You become more well-rounded and secure and that’s always very attractive to a spouse.
Whatever you decide to do, be aware that . . .
The less pushy, critical and domineering you are about your mate’s hesitancy, the more likely you are to encourage deeper conversational engagement.
In what ways have you been pushy, critical or domineering in your relationship?
How have you seen that discourage your mate’s engagement with you?
I’m still preparing for my once-a-month series on sexual hang-ups in marriage, hopefully with your help! If you’d like to learn more about how to anonymously share a part of your story, click here for guidelines.
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