Relationship Connection: The silent marriage

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, UT. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Question:

My husband and I have nothing to talk about. We go on dates and just sit there and watch other people and talk very little. It’s like that at home, too. We’ve been married for 16 years and it seems like we just go through the motions most of the time. I’m worried about us not having anything to say to each other. Is this normal?

Answer:

While it’s hard to say what’s “normal” for any couple, it’s clear this pattern appears to be distressing to you and possibly your husband. It’s worth looking at and figuring out what can be done.

There are lots of reasons couples can go silent. In my professional experience, the two most common contributors are unresolved resentment and the disconnection that results from failing to nurture the marriage relationship.

Unresolved resentments can come from previous injuries to the relationships, such as betrayals or misunderstandings. If these injuries aren’t adequately resolved in favor of the couple, then there can be hard feelings that keep the couple distant.

If you don’t see any unresolved issues in your heart, gently ask your husband if there are things that he’s still upset about from the past that need to be discussed. Give him a chance to think about it and then get back together to discuss. Sometimes it takes a while for these to surface. If the coast is clear, then I recommend looking at ways to get the two of you reconnected as a couple.

Dr. Bill Doherty said that “one of the biggest threats to modern-day marriage is daily living.” In other words, if couples aren’t proactive about capturing time together, they will wake up one day and realize they don’t even know each other.

I’m guessing you didn’t lack for conversation when you were dating. Most couples have plenty to talk about when they’re getting to know one another. It’s typically the daily grind of life, parenting, work, and other commitments that makes it tough to nurture the marriage.

Sometimes a marriage simply needs a “booster shot” in the form of a couple’s getaway. This shouldn’t be any vacation, but rather a chance to specifically get reacquainted with one another. It’s a way of showing each other that your marriage is a priority.

You might also consider changing up your dating routine. If you’ve been doing “dinner and a movie” for years, maybe it’s time to mix it up a bit and try something new that will get you talking. Our brains crave novelty and it makes for great conversation!

The marriage should be thought of as a separate entity that needs to be nurtured on a daily basis. I’m a big fan of the book “Take Back Your Marriage” by Dr. Bill Doherty, which explains how couples can resist the pull of life to keep their marriage front and center.

The most important thing you can do is keep working to build the connection to your husband. Instead of complaining that it’s boring to be married to him, let him know how important he is to you and how much you want to interact with him. Find out if he feels the same way. You might be surprised!

email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

twitter: @geoffsteurer

Copyright 2012 St. George News.

 

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