My husband, the clam

Dec 14, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Ever wonder why your husband won't talk with you much? Oh, sure, he's good for the occasional riff about work or sports, and he certainly has gotten good with his share of "Yes, dear," but when it comes to sharing his opinion on other things?  Like issues with the kids, or ideas for vacation (one can dream), or pointing out stuff he's found on the Net? Zip, nada. It's like you're married to a clam.  

Unhappy couple

It's not like he's incapable. He talks with his friends. You hear him laughing and practically gabbing on the phone with the guys. You remember well during the first couple of years how you treasured his easy flow of communication.

What happened?

Take this quick relationship quiz to find out:

He says "Wow – Discovery Channel says sharks are like dogs – they can sense fear, and they won't attack you if you're not scared."

Your response: 

  1. Yeah, I know
  2. I already saw that. It ran last month.
  3. That's ridiculous. Anyone knows sharks have nothing in common with dogs.
  4. Uh-huh. Could you help me load the dryer please?
  5. Really? I had no idea. Tell me more.

If you answered a, b, c, or d – that's what happened. Because your automatic response to pretty much anything he says is either to dismiss or ignore it, he's clammed up. It's a natural reaction. Why on earth would your husband want to share his thoughts, opinions, much less feelings, if all you're going to do is dismiss them or shine them on!

Listen up. Literally.

When your husband offers a thought or an opinion, listen up. Don't just "uh-huh" him, offer something in return. Doesn't have to be much, just enough to let him know that you care about what he thinks and feels, that he matters to you.

Of course, if you feel downright enthusiastic about the subject, do feel free to go for it! Your husband will shed his clam-self remarkably quickly.

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