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Should You Apologize to Your Spouse for Something You Didn’t Do?

There may be more to apology than just saying the words.

I’m sorry. 

Let’s face it — these two little words are packed with meaning, depending on the situation. 

I’m sorry I screwed up. 

I’m sorry you feel that way.

I am sorry, but it wasn’t my fault.

I’m sorry you’re a jerk. 

Apologies matter in marriage. But we know all apologies aren’t equal. It’s not always whether we use the words, but how we use them that makes a difference. 

Stuff happens in marriage.

Words get said. Feelings get hurt. Expectations aren’t met. Misunderstandings occur. Responsibilities fall by the wayside. Someone forgets an anniversary. 

All the same, these things cause your marital connection to run off the rails. Even with minor instances, you want to get back on track with your spouse. But how do you do that? Well, research tells us apology is one of the most essential tools for reconciliation in the eyes of both the offender and the offended.

Last night, my wife and I were going to sleep, and she decided to have a little fun. She put her hand up close to my face, thinking I was unaware of it in the dark. Unfortunately, she miscalculated my ninja-like sensibilities. I felt it, reacted on reflex, and accidentally poked her in the eye. 

Was it my fault? No, not really. Was it on purpose? Absolutely not. It was a reaction. Did I apologize? Profusely! I would never intentionally harm my wife, and, taken the wrong way, she might think I wasn’t concerned for her well-being. My sincere apology smoothed out the situation. (Her eyesight is fully restored, by the way.

Of course, there’s more to an apology than the words. Most of us were taught the formula: Say the words = everything is okay now. 

Did you bite your teacher’s ankle again, Mikey? You need to go and apologize…

And for many of us, that formula got passed down to our marriage. Apology as words-only, at the least, is ineffective. And at the most, it does more damage. 

Consider these times when you shouldn’t simply say I’m sorry to your spouse: 

  • To simply end the argument because it’s uncomfortable
  • When you don’t know what you’re apologizing for, but you know you’re being blamed for something again
  • To get something from your spouse, like an admittance of wrongdoing or a “return-apology” 
  • To manipulate someone into forgiving behavior you fully intend to keep doing

So then, why apologize? Say it with me:

I apologize when I recognize my contributions to our disconnect

Apologizing isn’t always a matter of something that was “right” or “wrong.” Many times it’s simply a matter of contributing to an issue. There’s a difference. 

Think of it like this: 

I apologize…

  • When I do something flat-out wrong. (Duh. That’s obvious.) 
  • Even when it was unintentional. 
  • When I didn’t do something morally wrong, but still, I didn’t consider your feelings.
  • For miscommunication on my part. 

Studies tell us that a genuine apology expresses ownership and remorse for something, seeks to empathize with how it affected the other person, and tries to compensate in some way for the offense. 2,3 In short, apology is about restoring the relationship rather than erasing the wrong. 

So should you apologize to your spouse for something you didn’t do?

The bigger question is, What were your contributions to the disconnect? And how did that affect your spouse? And what can you do to restore the marital connection? 

Talk about it together. Empathize. Consider your contribution. Take ownership of that. See it from your spouse’s point of view. And then ask, Do I need to apologize?

The result? You move further ahead in your relationship than where you were before the disconnect. There is a deeper right than being right.

I’m not going to share what happened with my spouse after the eye-poke incident. (That’s personal – but let’s just say we weren’t sleepy after that.) But I will tell you that what followed would not have happened without a wholehearted apology. Connection restored.  

When conflicts are managed well and effective apologies are made, your marriage can come out even better on the other side.4 And that’s nothing to feel sorry about! 

Sources:

1Fehr, R., Gelfand, M. J., & Nag, M. (2010). The Road to Forgiveness: A Meta-Analytic 

Synthesis of Its Situational and Dispositional Correlates. Psychological Bulletin, 136(5), 894–914. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0019993

2Anderson, J. C., Linden, W., & Habra, M. E. (2006). Influence of Apologies and Trait Hostility on 

Recovery from Anger. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 29(4), 347–358. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10865-006-9062-7

3Kirchhoff, J., Wagner, U., & Strack, M. (2012). Apologies: Words of Magic? The Role of Verbal 

Components, Anger Reduction, and Offence Severity. Peace and Conflict, 18(2), 109–130. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0028092

4Gottman, J. M., & Krokoff, L. J. (1989). Marital Interaction and Satisfaction: A Longitudinal 

View. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57(1), 47–52. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.57.1.47

Help! We Just Had a Baby and Now We Can’t Stop Fighting

You can have a strong, healthy marriage, even if you fight sometimes.

Having a new baby is amazing. And amazingly exhausting. You can always tell which parents have a newborn. They’re excited, but you can see the stress in their eyes. We’ve been there. When our son was born, he rocked our world. At times, we were so stressed and tired that the slightest frustration triggered an argument. And arguments, when you’re both exhausted, are dangerous. Here’s a secret, though: After having a baby, many couples can’t stop fighting. It’s not just you. All new parents experience high levels of stress and frustration.

Those first few months are filled with sleepless nights, hectic schedules, and disrupted routines. Not to mention you’re both figuring out how to balance work, family, chores, and grandparents. It’s no surprise that new parents experience high levels of stress. And high levels of stress often lead to arguments. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Parenting isn’t stress-free (sorry to burst that bubble), but you can reduce stress and manage it. 

How can you lessen the stress (and fight less) after having a baby? 

Communicate often.

It’s common for new parents to feel like they aren’t communicating with each other. Communication doesn’t have to be complex at this stage. Make sure to take a few minutes each day and talk to each other. Talk about your needs, emotions, struggles, and listen to each other. 

Don’t assume.

Assuming is dangerous, and it leads to frustration. But it’s so easy when you are both tired. Talk to each other, ask questions, and voice any concerns.

Apologize when you see you made a mistake.

If you’re in the wrong, own it. We all make mistakes, especially when we’re tired.

Don’t play the blame game.

When you both are stressed and arguing over something, don’t fall into the blame game. Own your mistakes, voice your concerns, but don’t turn it into a contest of who has made the most mistakes. 

When things get heated, take a break.

Sometimes the healthiest thing to do is walk away from an argument. You don’t want to say something that will cause far more damage in the long term. 

  • Address the issue at hand. Solve one problem at a time.

Tackle whatever the problem is that led to the fighting and come to an agreed-upon solution.

How do you reconnect?

Be intentional about talking for at least 5 minutes a day.

Schedules are hectic when a newborn is in the picture. It’s easy for time with your spouse to take a backseat. Set aside time to talk and reconnect.

Give at least two compliments or expressions of gratitude every day. You look great today. Thanks for taking care of ______. I appreciate all your help with ________. 

Expressing gratitude improves your physical health, reduces aggression, and increases your mental strength.

Be intentional about connecting with your spouse.

In the first few months of parenting, newborns own your schedule. But you can still connect with your spouse. When your baby is napping, it may be more important to sit and talk to each other than clean the kitchen.

Keep your marriage at the forefront of your relationship.

John Medina, a molecular biologist and author, was once asked, “How do I get my child into Harvard?” His answer, “Go home, love your spouse well and create a stable environment for your child.” One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is a healthy, stable (not perfect) home.

If you just had a baby and you can’t stop fighting, remember that parenting is tough, but it’s fantastic. These last eight years as a parent have been some of the best moments of my life. You and your spouse can have a strong, healthy marriage, even if you fight from time to time. Put your marriage first and provide the best possible home for your child you can. 

Other helpful blogs:

Is It Good To Fight In Marriage?

10 Rules To “Fight Nice” With Your Spouse

Help! We fight about money all the time…

Should We Fight In Front Of The Kids?

How to Fight in Front of the Kids

Finding out your spouse has talked badly about you behind your back feels like a betrayal on so many levels. It can feel like they’re confiding in someone besides you. Like they’re not being real with you. Not to mention, you might feel disrespected. Before you let the emotions flood your soul, let’s think through how you can move past this and be better for it.

I’m not going to tell you to suppress your feelings and only look at the “real” issue, because what your spouse did impacts you. And hopefully, you’ll both move past it to better understand how each of you wants to be treated. 

So what can you do when you find out your spouse is talking badly about you behind your back?

  • Gather yourself. Whether you found out through social media or through the grapevine, there’s a good chance you’re pretty emotional. Before letting your emotions take over, gather yourself. Don’t immediately attack or fly off the handle. 
  • Get the facts. Knowing what was said can help you avoid misinterpretations. I’ve tried to highlight my own flaws when sharing things before, but all the other person heard was that there was something wrong with my wife. What my wife heard from a third source blindsided me. It happens. 
  • Try giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Do you believe your spouse’s goal was to demean, ridicule, or humiliate you? Likely not. There’s a chance they’re focusing on themselves when sharing grievances, not how it affects you or the marriage. More on this later.
  • Remember, the goal is to stay on the same team. After all, you are married.

Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty. Your spouse was talking badly about you, and it’s clear. How do you talk to them about it?

Organize what you want to say around your T.E.D., your Thoughts, Emotions, and Desires.

  • Clearly share what you heard they said. If it’s a pattern, share several examples. You can communicate without attacking. You attack your enemies, but you share your heart with someone you’re in a relationship with. Start the conversation with, “It bothers me when I hear that you tell your friends I’m ______________.” 
  • Share what you think when you hear they’ve said negative things about you. For instance, “When I hear you’ve said bad things about me, it makes me think you are _____________ (unhappy, untrustworthy, two-faced).”
  • Share what you think they’re saying about you. “To me, it sounds like you think I’m __________?”
  • Share your emotions. If you felt betrayed, disrespected, or humiliated, voice it. Try, “When I heard some of the things you said, I felt __________________.”
  • Share your desire to deal with the issues or grievances together. “I wish we could work out our issues together. What does it take for us to do that?”

Giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt doesn’t mean you ignore your feelings. 

Your spouse may not mean to disrespect you, but they may have. Several times in my marriage, I’ve heard, “I know you didn’t intend to make me feel that way, but you did make me feel that way.” (Normally, I’m the one hearing that statement.) Lovingly helping your spouse understand that intentions don’t justify hurtful actions can be crucial to moving forward. 

Knowing they don’t intend to hurt or ridicule is essential. It can mean the difference between attacking your spouse like they’re the enemy and helping your spouse understand how you feel.

Does this always lead to sunflowers and roses? No. It’s not unusual for people to naturally become defensive and not immediately own up to doing something hurtful. This may be an ongoing conversation that comes up consistently for some time. Talking to some trusted married friends or even a good marriage counselor might help.

Consider these things in the process: 

  • Ask why they feel the need to share their grievances with others. Is it the culture or friends they’re with? Do they feel uncomfortable telling you? Did they try and felt dismissed?
  • Do they gossip about you, or are they simply trying to get a better perspective? There are times when talking to a trusted friend provides perspective. Even then, it’s vital that you both agree that those friends are for your marriage, focused on helping you lean into (and not away) from each other.

Talking behind your spouse’s back can be painful and divisive. Managing your emotions so you can be heard while understanding your spouse sets the stage for growth. Creating an environment where you can both be transparent, secure, and heard may be the trick to reducing the need to air grievances with someone outside the marriage. That way, you can talk to each other about your friends instead of talking to others about your marriage.

Other helpful blogs:

4 Things to Know About Emotional Safety

What to Do When You Don’t Feel Emotionally Safe in Your Marriage

How to Be An Emotionally Safe Spouse

Should You Tell Your Friends and Family about Your Marital Problems?

How to Stop Sibling Arguments

They can learn a lot in the process.

When each of my sons was born, I was ecstatic to add another person to our family. I thought about things we would do together, like buying matching outfits and taking family photos or trips together. I clearly remember one trip in particular. The boys were 11, 6, and 3. As we were driving to Florida, I heard my 3-year-old mumbling to his 6-year-old brother, “Stop touching me.” The mumble went to a yell, “STOP TOUCHING ME!!!” I was at a loss for words, but I was able to quell that disagreement. However, it was the beginning of what I call the “Rumbling Years,” that time where it seemed like every interaction between the boys escalated into sibling arguments. 

You may be experiencing the same thing with your kids. Perhaps they’re constantly arguing, hitting each other (or on the verge of it), or even ignoring their siblings. You may feel like you’re at your wits’ end. If so, you are not alone. 

These tips can help you make it through your own “rumbling years.”

Remember that it’s normal for siblings to argue.

Let’s be honest. There’s no way to stop or prevent all sibling arguments. Arguments or disagreements are just a part of life. At home, within the family is the correct place for your children to learn how to handle conflict appropriately. Think of your home as the training ground for how your kids will handle conflict throughout their lives.

Help them learn how to handle conflict – it’s a necessary life skill.

Conflict is something that everyone deals with. You may or may not like dealing with conflict, but it’s a part of our lives. As your children grow up, handling conflict is a vital life skill. To handle conflict in a healthy way, your child will utilize the following skills: 

  • NEGOTIATING. Suppose your kids are arguing over who is using the family computer. In that case, you come in and make a declaration about who uses it when. You have just prevented your children from learning how to negotiate a schedule devised by them. Think about it this way: If there were visiting grandparents and the same scenario arose, would you be there to solve the problem for them? No. Instead, teach them to solve the problem for themselves.  
  • HOW TO AGREE TO DISAGREE WITHOUT BEING DISAGREEABLE. Some issues may not be fully resolved. The best solution may be to agree to disagree without being disagreeable. Yes, that sounds silly, but your child won’t get their way all the time. Help them learn that it’s ok to disagree with their sibling while still treating them with love, respect, and compassion.

Establish your rules of engagement.

There will be times when parents need to step in, especially if the disagreement has turned physical. There are times when the best thing to do is let your children work through the conflict on their own. Don’t overreact to their arguments. Remember when they fell as they learned to walk? If you reacted, they did, too. If you were calm, they were subdued. It’s the same with sibling disagreements. You can calmly say, “If you are going to argue, please do so in your own room.” (They may look at you strangely, especially if they are accustomed to your intervention.)

Acknowledge that their arguments make you uncomfortable.

I remember my mother asking me, as the oldest, “Why don’t you and your brother get along?” She went on to say, “My older brother took care of me. Why can’t you do that for your brother?” My mother was well-intentioned, but she was placing the interactions she had with her brother on me and my brother. Has that happened to you? My mother’s fear was that we (my brother and I) wouldn’t be close as adults based on our sibling arguments. Is that a concern of yours?

You are stressed and tired of acting like the referee. And it seems that your children are at each other’s throats all the time. Nevertheless, remain calm, knowing that this time in life teaches both you and your children lessons about patience and compromise. In the end, you all learn that conflict doesn’t have to ruin relationships going forward.

Other blogs you might find helpful:

How to Communicate Better With Your Spouse

These six skills can transform your relationship.

What would the world be like without good communication? 

Airports would be a complete wreck (figuratively and literally). 

Kids couldn’t learn reading, writing, ’rithmetic, and computer coding. 

The barista at Starbucks would write a completely different name on my cup for my order. (Okay, well, that happens anyway.) 

Not to mention… marriage would be chaotic! 

Fortunately, communication in marriage isn’t some tricky thing that some people have, and some don’t. It’s a skill that you, I, and everyone else can practice and improve. 

Here are six of the most crucial skills you can use to communicate better with your spouse: 

1. Practice the art of listening well. 

Listening well means seeking to understand. It’s putting yourself in your spouse’s shoes. 

Seek to understand their point of view. And know that just because it’s not the same as yours doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. 

Repeat back to your spouse what you heard. This lets them confirm you heard them correctly or restate what they meant using other words. 

2. Ask lots of questions. 

The ultimate goal of healthy communication in marriage is to connect. Be curious for the sake of knowing your husband or wife better and how you can strengthen your relationship.

Ask questions to: 

  • Explore: What was it like growing up in your household?
  • Clarify: Am I right in saying you don’t like surprises because…? 
  • Draw out: Can you tell me more about how you feel when the barista gets your name wrong? 
  • Know how to be more compassionate: What can I do to help you feel more relaxed right now? 

Oh, and don’t forget to validate what you hear, even if it’s different from what you’d say! 

3. Go deeper in your communication. 

Communication can be shallow: My day was good. How was yours? I’m kinda tired. Tomorrow is Friday…

Nothin’ wrong with that. It’s just that way sometimes. But marriage can’t thrive in the shallow end of the pool; it has to take deeper dives. 

Your spouse is a complex person (in a good way!). So are you. The joy of marital communication is exploring and appreciating these complexities for what they are. 

And this takes deeper conversations about feelings, opinions, shortcomings, goals, hopes, needs, past experiences, and future dreams. 

4. Practice vulnerability.

Being vulnerable means showing more of who you are. Which means opening yourself up. And that takes trust, which is vital for a healthy marriage. 

Healthy communication is the treadmill that exercises the muscles of vulnerability. 

Showing vulnerability in deeper communication might be uncomfortable. Talk about that with your spouse. Why does it make you feel that way? What can your spouse do to help you feel more at ease and willing to be more vulnerable? 

Keep in mind that building trust through vulnerability requires affirming each other’s opinions—even if they’re different. Respect each other’s differences, and these kinds of conversations can totally help strengthen your relationship. 

5. Practice often.

Schedule times to talk and connect with each other on deeper levels, even if it’s for just a few minutes. The average couple communicates for only 20 minutes a week; choose not to be average. 

6. Learn to work through conflict well.

Disagreements are gonna happen. That’s part of marriage. But how you communicate through disagreements makes all the difference. And if you communicate better with your spouse, that’s a game-changer.

Attack the issue instead of each other. Be solution-driven. Remember, You. Are. A. Team. Establish your Rules to Fight Right: no name-calling, yelling, walking out on each other, bringing up past issues, etc. (You know what I’m talkin’ about.) 

(For more easy-to-use resources, check out How to Improve Bad Communication in Marriage and 6 Ways Poor Communication Can Affect Your Marriage.)

No matter what, remember communication is a process.  Learning communication skills doesn’t mean you’ll get it right all the time. 

Miscommunication will happen. Give yourselves a break and keep on truckin’ to better communicate with your spouse anyway. Look to these resources to practice: 4 Communication Exercises for Married Couples and 3 Great Dates to Enhance Communication in Marriage. Because working on healthy communication leads to a thriving marriage. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

How to Keep the Election from Ruining Your Marriage

You may feel differently about politics, but that doesn't have to change how you feel about each other.

Finally. After endless campaign ads, talking heads, polls and vote counting, the election is over. Now you’ve gotta figure out how to move forward and keep the election from ruining your marriage, especially if you live in a house divided.

One of you may be gloating over your candidate’s victory. But your spouse is licking his or her wounds, wondering how the nation will survive the next four years.

You CAN Keep the Election from Ruining Your Marriage

There’s probably an elephant or a donkey in the room nobody really wants to talk about. How will you navigate marriage in the midst of big political differences?

  • First word of advice: be nice and kind. When our kids start playing sports, most parents drill into their kids, “Nobody likes a sore loser and nobody likes a gloating winner.” You can feel strongly about your stance and still be generous in the way you love and care for one another.
  • Remember that your spouse is a multifaceted human being. Rarely do we look at a person and decide we can’t get along with them based on one aspect of who they are. 
  • Make a list of all the qualities you love about your spouse so that on the particularly challenging days you can refer to it. Let it remind you there’s a difference in how you feel about politics and how you feel about your spouse.
  • Make sure you’re having more positive than negative interactions when you are together. Research indicates a ratio of five positives for every one negative will keep your relationship in the green zone.
  • If you’ve been able to have civil conversation about politics in the past, but feel like things are too electrically charged right now, set some boundaries around what you will and will not have conversations about.
  • Be intentional about making time for fun together. Doing things you both enjoy together typically brings about smiles, laughter and playfulness between the two of you. On the inside your brain is releasing dopamine, known as the “feel-good” hormone. It boosts your mood and makes you want to spend more time together because you associate that time with your spouse in positive ways and you want to repeat it.
  • Guard against taking his or her political perspective as a personal affront against you. Family, religion and region of the country where they were raised are all factors contributing to a person’s political leanings. It likely has nothing to do with you, so your best move is to not engage.
  • Focus on what you DO have in common. It’s just human nature to pay attention to what divides you, but it’s really in the best interest of your marriage to consider all you agree on. Chances are great there is more that unites you than divides you in your relationship. 

When you get down to it, you probably both want what’s best for our country; you just disagree on what exactly that is and the best way to get there. It’s likely true you both want what’s best for your relationship, too. Keep in mind, while elections come and go, you married each other for the long haul. When your marriage matters more than who wins or loses in the election, your marriage becomes the winning team.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

#cancelled #cancelculture #RIP

If you pay attention to the news, you know this is a thing. Cancel culture promotes the “canceling” of people, celebrities and public figures because their beliefs are thought to be offensive or problematic. In other words, a group of people comes together to ruin the reputation and livelihood of someone who has views they don’t agree with.

On the surface, this may seem like a good thing. But if you peel back the onion a bit, you might think twice about whether or not it’s a good thing, especially when it comes to relationships.

Here’s an example of how it works in real life. A few weeks ago, screenwriter and television producer Amy Berg shared headshots of Chris Evans, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt and Chris Hemsworth and stated, “One has to go.” In no time, her Tweet went viral with many saying #RIPChrisPratt. 

Since the beginning of time, people have had differing opinions about politics, religion, the importance of a college education, how to raise children, money and plenty of other topics. What’s different today is the way people choose to deal with those who don’t think the same way. If you don’t agree with my perspective, you are #cancelled and basically cease to play any kind of relevant role in my life.

In many instances, cancel culture has silenced conversations between friends, co-workers and family because it seems impossible to have a civil conversation about a topic you feel strongly about and still walk away as friends.

Some may think that cancel culture is a new thing that has come along with social media, but it’s not. It just has a platform that didn’t exist before.

Yale research psychologist Irving L. Janis first used the term “groupthink” in 1972, defining it as when people will set aside their own personal beliefs or adopt the opinion of the rest of the group even if they actually disagree or have doubts about the perspective. 

Research repeatedly has shown us that “groupthink” is very dangerous. Instead of saying what they really believe, some people will remain silent because they don’t want to risk rocking the boat or in this day and time—being #cancelled. 

Symptoms of groupthink include: perceived inability to be wrong, justifying a group’s decisions based on the supposed majority opinion, stereotyping opposing perspectives and creating barriers to alternative views or information that doesn’t support their way of thinking.

Cancel culture impacts relationships. Can we build relationships instead of canceling them?

Instead of canceling people out, let’s be respectful even in our differences because we all have something to offer.

  • Encourage conversation with people who have different opinions than yours. 
  • Focus on trying to understand where others are coming from instead of only trying to change their mind. This can help people feel heard and valued, even if you don’t agree with them. Wouldn’t you want to be treated the same way?
  • Ask questions—not in a third-degree way, but out of curiosity and wanting to learn more. 
  • Be willing to share your perspective without coming across as though your way is the only correct line of thinking.
  • Stay curious. Nobody has all the answers. There is richness in spending time with people who have differing ideas about how to solve a problem. It’s been said: two heads are better than one. That’s because many times what comes out of brainstorming together is much better than what one person can come up with on their own.

Whether we are talking cancel culture or groupthink, bullying people into agreement or attempting to shame someone for what they think doesn’t build relationships. It doesn’t change anything, either. Instead, it tears people down and creates division. Hanging with people who think and act just like you might be comforting initially, but consider this—in the end, your perspective could be wrong.

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Why Do Couples Stop Talking?

Get 10 ways to spark more conversation.

When you got married, did you imagine endless conversations and an unending exchange of thoughts, ideas, dreams, and emotions? Fast forward a few years down the road and now you find yourself sitting in the bed or eating a meal together in sheer silence, feeling disconnected from each other…

Finding yourself in this place isn’t that unusual. Many couples experience times in their marriage where the talking to each other seems to stop. However, like anything else in marriage, conversations do take a little extra intentionality than when you first began. To start talking again, it helps to understand some of the reasons you may have stopped talking in the first place.

Here are 10 reasons couples stop talking and a few ways you can spark the conversations again:

1. You’re just out of words.

It’s easy to run out of things to talk about. At times it’s okay not to be talking each other’s ears off.

The ebbs and flows of marriage will often self-correct this situation. Conversation starters can begin casual conversations that get you below the surface and learning new things about your spouse. Sometimes sitting and simply enjoying each other’s presence, taking a stroll down memory lane, or embarking on new adventures all aid toward a new batch of conversation.

2. You’re tired and busy.

Life stacks up, and all of a sudden you find yourself lying in bed at the end of the day too exhausted to connect. 

Stop, take a timeout, gain control of your schedule, and consider your priorities. Give yourselves the margin to gain your energy back and reconnect again.

3. You’re tired of having the same conversation over and over again with no resolution.

You know the argument… the one that never ends and neither of you can seem to agree or feel heard. You both feel like your feelings are being invalidated. This affects anything else you talk about, causing tension to build. Instead of saying the same things over and over, you choose to remain silent.

Giving attention to make sure you’re addressing the real issue and not just the symptoms may be the first step in removing the roadblock to your communication.

4. You live separate lives.

You work, exercise, talk to your set of friends, and golf. Your partner works, is a wine-tasting connoisseur, talks to their set of friends, and plays video games. You’re not sharing time, experiences, or interests.

Begin doing something together: cooking, hiking, puzzles, learning a new skill together, etc. It sparks conversations, creates memories, and cultivates curiosity in your relationship..  

5. There’s a lack of emotional safety in your relationship.

You don’t feel cared for or like you matter. When you do share, you feel judged, misunderstood, criticized, or dismissed. To prevent experiencing the sense of rejection, you shut down.

Have an open, honest conversation about how you’re made to feel when you share. Gently give specifics about comments made or expressions that hurt. Share with your spouse what an emotionally safe space feels like.

6. No one is taking the first step.

Neither of you wants the responsibility of initiating a conversation about what may be causing the lack of communication.

Choose to take the lead in meaningful conversation. Just like leading a dance, when one person leads, the other typically falls into rhythm and follows along.

7. Technology has taken over.

Distracted by the phone, social media, and all the technology trappings? 

Consider phone-free and tech-free time just for the two of you to connect.

8. You’re ignoring the elephant in the room.

There’s a topic that needs to be brought out in the open, and it’s causing the potential for any other point of connection to be shut down. 

There’s only one solution for this: have the hard conversation; but, make a commitment to discuss it in a healthy,  respectful way. Remember to affirm each other’s opinions and feelings. 

9. One of you is an introvert and the other is an extrovert.

If an extroverted partner doesn’t leave room for the introvert to talk… pretty soon, the introvert just gives up.

Discuss each other’s communication styles and how you can ensure that both of you have your thoughts and feelings heard and understood. 

10. There is anger or unresolved conflict present.

Something has happened in the past which causes you or your spouse pain. And this pain short-circuits any kind of meaningful conversation you could have with your spouse. 

Whatever has happened needs to be addressed in a safe environment. Each person’s pain needs to be validated. Seeking professional help may be the best option. 

There are lots of reasons why couples stop talking, but you don’t want this to become the norm. You are always in the process of either connecting or disconnecting in marriage; there’s no such thing as maintaining the status quo. Reflect back on why you married your spouse in the first place and become a student of your spouse; there is always more to learn about them, and therefore, always more to talk about. 

Understanding the reason you stopped talking in the first place can be the first step to reconnecting again. Ironically, talking together about why you aren’t talking can be the start of a beautiful dance. The goal to reconnect on a deeper level just might be, at the moment, the one thing both of you can talk about.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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