Post # 1
My SO is “The One” We adore and love each other to death. One thing that drives me nuts that we have absolutely got to learn to figure out: how to argue.
My SO’s father is known to get mad and take it out on everyone in the house. So, when my man was growing up, he learned to counter his father’s irritability by ignoring it. Problem is, HE DOES THE SAME TO ME!
I find it very hard to just sit him down, tell him what is wrong, and us talk about it and move on. Instead, my SO doesn’t give me eye contact, sometimes I feel like he isn’t listening to what is bothering me, and makes me even more upset and frantic by doing this. I told him that it would be easier if he gave me 5 minutes of his undivided attention so we can talk about a problem, find a solution and move on, instead of not getting the respect I deserve, which makes me madder and sends me even further into a slump.
I need some help in how to deal with this. Perhaps it’s the way I am bringing up the topics? When I ask him why he’s so quiet, he says that he’s got nothing to say. It’s like he doesn’t have the capability to be compassionate when I come to him about these things. He’s quiet as it is, so when a problem comes along, LOOK OUT!
I need some advice. I don’t think I could marry him if we don’t figure this out, it makes me feel unsettled.
Post # 3
I very rarely ever suggest this, but if you have already explained to him how you need to communicate, and he won’t, then maybe its time to see someone so you can figure out the best way of communication that works for the both of you.
What type of work does he do?
Post # 4
Have you thought about going to a counselor? Even if he refuses to go, a professional might be able to give you some good tools and advice.
Post # 5
My boyfriend used to be like this… then we got into an awful fight one day… and then the floodgates opened. I DO NOT suggest you try this method, but maybe just offer something really personal, and ask him to offer something personal in return? Some guys just DON’T DO emotions. My own father is like this, and my parents have been together for 31 years!
Maybe draw a hard line? Just say flat out “it really bugs me that you do this, and it makes me nervous about communicating in the future” and maybe ask that he just try to be more aware and try and find a middle ground? I know it’s SO much easier said than done, but just be clear in what you want/need from him, and usually, becuase he loves you, he’ll get the message.
Post # 6
Have you tried writing your issues and requesting a response. He may feel attacked or put on the spot and so won’t respond. However, if given a chance he may decide to respond in writing after he thinks about it. This is a great way to get a response from someone who may feel uncomfortable in the situation.
Going to counseling is always a good idea as well.
Post # 7
Hmm… my fiance doesn’t like talking about these things either, he’d rather shrug them off and get over it on his own. I am not like that I am a talker! This was tricky for us at first, until I realized that while he doesn’t love to talk he does love to be touched. He opens up to me so much better when I’m giving him that physical touch as a reassurance. So we’ve started dedicating an amount of time at the end of the day to just hold each other and talk. If it’s a really huge problem, I’ll usually even do something extra like rub his back while we’re talking. Usually big issues don’t come up, but when they need to be brought up he is more relaxed and open about discussing it.
Not saying this specifically would help you. I guess I’m saying maybe try to figure out what he needs to feel safe and secure. Try to give it to him as much as you can, especially at times when you need to discuss problems (which is understandably scary) and maybe he’ll be a bit more open? If you don’t think anything like this will help, I don’t think counseling is a bad idea for anyone.
Post # 8
Sometimes , we can have differing opinions about “problems” . Something that I may think is earth shattering or annoying, may not cause my future husbands eyes to blink. Instead of convincing him that the problem exists or it needs to be fixed, try to convey that its important that he listen and engage, regardless.
Also try to view conflict from his point of view, someone who doesn’t open up. This is all very YOU centered, and all the problems are how you feel after X occurs. He may be secretly mortified about how upset you get and ends up shutting down.
Post # 9
@katiebeary: You’re considering pre-marital counseling, right?
At our pre-marital sessions we were actually forced to argue with each other. We had to think of things about the other person that bothered us, we had to bring them to one another and then we had to talk about it.
We don’t really fight or argue either, but it was a really useful exercise. If there is an issue that comes up we don’t have problems talking about it.
Post # 10
Ladies, you are all so wonderful to me. Thank you so much for the advice. I am on “The Pill” and sometimes I just can’t approach the subject by walking on eggshells to make him happy. It seems I get wonderful response from him when I am completely cool, calm, and collected. . .but sometimes it doesn’t work like that! And MrsArgentina, you are SO right! When I come to my man and tell him about a problem that I feel “we’re” having, he’ll be extremely quiet and I’ll ask him why he’s being so quiet. His response: “I have nothing to say. I don’t feel there is a problem.” So I guess women are just good at making small situations into much, much larger ones. I just need a “back-up” plan for when I can’t walk on eggshells before I speak with him, and I think that your method would work, MrsA (concerning letting him know that the situation might not be important or ground-breaking to him, but to listen and engage anyhow)
I’m not so sure we need counseling, I think combined with his habit of shutting down due to his upbringing, and my hormones being crazy from being on The Pill, it’s just a matter of learning how to make it work for both of us. Thank you ladies for all your wonderful advice.<3
Post # 11
@katiebeary: Something that’s helped communication between my husband and I greatly has been agreeing to make a concerted effort to share what we’re *feeling* rather than just what we’re *thinking* in arguments/discussions/etc. It’s a very difficult practice to get comfortable with but has REALLY helped open up the lines of communication between us. Before, both my husband and I felt the need to fully rationally understand why we were feeling a certain way before we shared anything with each other. This created an environment where we would shut ourselves off from each other whenever something went wrong, rather than sharing a problem and working together to figure out a solution. We might eventually end up talking about these issues, but only after a lot of distance and and a lot of agonizing. Now, once I realize I’m getting frustrated, I’ll say “I’m getting really frustrated with this conversation. I don’t really know why, but I feel like crying and am getting upset with you.” Then, my husband will have the opportunity to share how he’s feeling in response, and both of us can try and care for one another and work together to figure out why we’re feeling upset and what we can do about it.
Maybe this sort of approach–of both of you learning to identify what you’re feeling and share that with each other–would work with your fiance? Perhaps you could talk calmly with him when you’re not upset and ask him to tell you when he’s feeling uncomfortable with a conversation or when he’s feeling attacked or worried, or stressed or like he’s needing to withdraw. Then, in the moment, if he says “I’m feeling really uncomfortable with this conversation,” you can work together to figure out why, what you’re feeling, and what can be done about it.
If your fiance isn’t able/willing to admit that he is actually shutting down, though (and if he can’t/won’t work to identify what he may be feeling), then it sounds like he could really benefit from some therapy. Fighting/arguments are natural and can actually be incredibly productive and healthy, but only if the lines of communication are open.