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"Why Can't My Husband Communicate With Me?" - Marriage Counselor

Posted by Dr. Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC on Fri, Jul 30, 2010

My Husband Can't Communicate with MeQ: My husband and I have been to a marriage counselor to improve our marriage. We have an ongoing issue that we cannot resolve. My question is....Why Can't My Husband Communicate With Me? He lies to me and hides things from me. Mainly pertaining to communication with his ex that he has children with. He has agreed to tell me when they contact him or share with me anything pertaining to their child support issues. However, he still does not tell me these things unless I stumble across them myself. Which I have, once again.

When I ask him about it, he becomes very angry and says he does not share with me because I get so upset over it. I tell him I am upset over the fact that he did not tell me about it and not the issue itself, but he refused to believe me. He turns it all around that I am always saying he is the one that needs to change and not me, because I am so perfect. And around and around we go. He has never apologized for keeping secrets from me and feels justified in doing so. This goes back to our problem of "Who goes first?" Why should he when it's all my fault? Why should I when it's all his fault? It's a vicious circle that we can't get out of. I don't know how to change it. All I want is for him to share with me these communications, but he refuses and continues to lie to me and hide things. I don't know what to do about it. --Erin C

A: I’m sure a lot of couples can relate to your struggle with marriage communication, especially - "Who goes first? Why should he when it's all my fault? Why should I when it's all his fault? It's a vicious circle that we can't get out of… and around and around we go.” I couldn't have described this typical marriage communication dance any better.

One of the answers to your question of why can’t my husband communicate with me is because he feels the need to protect himself from you. It can be seen in his defensiveness. This is a common barrier in marriage communication.

If you can understand some of the reasons why he feels the need to defend himself, you'll find some ways to get your husband to communicate with you more. Try thinking about what could be going on for him, as well as what you could be doing, that are triggering his defensiveness. 

Here are a couple of ideas to help get you started:

      • SAFETY  He doesn't feel safe to share things. This may come partly from your experience together, but it can also come from other past experiences as well. The origins aren’t as important as just being aware that he feels unsafe and that safety and trust needs to be built between you two.
      • HISTORY  Obviously you have a history of fighting over this topic. History has a way of becoming like a snow ball rolling down a hill. It gets rolling faster and faster, gets bigger and bigger, and becomes harder and harder to stop. Look for ways to start writing a new history of how you two deal with this issue without constantly fighting.
      • IDENTITY  He’s protecting his self-identity. Sharing details about his relationships with his ex requires revealing parts of himself that he’s probably uncomfortable with others, especially you, knowing. Use this knowledge to be more understanding of why he's uncomfortable communicating with you.

--Kurt Smith, Marriage Counselor

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