Men and women express themselves differently, according to marriage relationship counselor Gary Smalley in his “Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships” curriculum. Men communicate about facts and solutions and view things objectively. Women process their emotions through conversation, focus on the personal touch and view their identity through relationships. If you think your husband doesn’t express his feelings, it could be based more on the difference in communication styles than lack of emotional communication.
1. His Feelings Through Value
Your man expresses his feelings through the things he values, according to Dr. Phil McGraw in his “Dr. Phil’s MAN-ual” on Oprah.com. He demonstrates love through acts of service, gifts or the things he shares with you. If he loves for you, he encourages you to build a relationship with his child or invites you to spend time with him. He might wash your car and change the oil without being asked or call you on his way home to see if you need anything from the store. He prioritizes time with your child and parents in his unique style.
2. Relationship and Fear
Your lover makes relationship choices based on fears that he will come up short or be inadequate in some way, according to Dr.Phil. He doesn’t like to look fearful or insufficient, so talking about his feelings could make him uncomfortable. Help him talk about them indirectly, suggests the WebMD staff in the article, “18 Secrets Guys Wish You Knew.” Ask open-ended questions about what he does or thinks, suggests Roland Warren, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative in “What Do They Want With Us?” on Oprah.com. Ask what he thinks about the new office climate or why he's pouring over finances. Listen for the underlying message, such as uncertainty about job lay-offs or concern that his retirement benefits won’t be enough to care for you. Address those by saying, “That must make your job more stressful” or "I appreciate your concern for me."
3. Different Emotional Needs
When your guy is worried, upset or stressed, he retreats for down time, instead of talking it out like you do, according to therapist Richard Drobnick in “6 Ways Men and Women Communicate Differently” on the PsychCentral website. Give him the alone time and then ask him about his concerns when he comes out instead of invading his “man cave" for information. He might use that time to find the needed solution and only share when he know his next step.
4. Ask for Connection
Explain that you need meaningful communication to feel loved, suggests Smalley. Tell him you need it like a plant needs sun and water, which is an emotional metaphor he would understand. Help him see that metaphors can make talking about feelings easier. Express appreciation for his efforts and limit the time spent to ease his discomfort. Assure him that you understand the feelings behind his loving actions, so he knows you understand and appreciate his communication style, too.
- Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships; Gary Smalley
- Oprah.com: Dr. Phil's "Man-ual"
- WebMD: 18 Secrets Guys Wish You Knew
- Oprah.com: Men: What Do They Want With Us?
- Psych Central: 6 Ways Men and Women Communicate Differently
- Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images