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We Chatty Cathy's would do anything to get our husbands to talk our ears off. But often, it's a struggle to get them to open up.
"Men are socialized that revealing their feelings and struggles can look like weakness," says Brandy Engler, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of The Men On My Couch. Plus, let's be honest: When we say to our husbands "let's talk," it's often "code for 'let me tell you what's wrong with our relationship or what expectations I have,'" Engler says. And no man wants to willingly jump head-first into that conversation.
But you can get your husband to open up — from innocuous conversation about his work day to serious discussions about what's on his mind — with these seven expert tips.
Use positive body language.
Turning away from your husband or crossing your arms could shut down a budding conversation, stat. Instead, focus on using body language that "is open toward him and shows you're interested in hearing what he has to say," says Jonathan Alpert, psychotherapist and author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days.
Moderate your inner dialogue.
If you assume your husband isn't into the current conversation, you may snappily switch gears and unintentionally steal his time to speak up. "If you want him to open up, then make sure you do your part and be transparent in a genuine and caring way," Engler advises.
Make reflective comments.
Otherwise known as "mirroring," reflective comments are those that reiterate what your husband just said. "They show that you hear what he is going through," says Engler. For example, if he tells you about a stressful office interaction, you might reply, "Having a disagreement with your boss is never easy — I can see why you're so stressed."
Ask open-ended questions.
A close-ended question is one that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." But you want more than that, so ask more open-ended questions, which require lengthier responses. "For example, you might ask, 'how was your day?' rather than 'did you have a good day?'" explains Alpert.
Talk while you work (or have fun).
"You can get him talking while in a shared activity such as going for a walk or a hike," says Engler, who explains, "this is a popular way that men like to communicate." After all, when they get chatty with their friends, it's often over a game of golf or tasting beer at the bar.
Tap into his interests.
Whether his hobbies lean toward music or sports, read up on what interests him so that you can hold a conversation about the things that matter most to your man — even if you could care less. "This is a way to connect, build rapport, and also build trust," explains Alpert. "If he opens up about things that are important to him, then there's a good chance he'll open up about things that are important to you."
Shower him with positive attention.
When he opens up, respond by "touching his arm, making eye contact and nodding your head," says Engler. "All of these non-verbal cues communicate you are interested and care."