Learn to Speak Your Spouse’s Language

My greatest desire is to connect emotionally with my husband. Over the past few years as my relationship with God has strengthened, I have started opening up so much more with Jim. At night I lay on my husband’s chest and pour my soul out to him. I share my insecurities, struggles with God, my hopes and my dreams and it has been amazing. The problem is that I don’t want my husband just to listen to me. I want him to emotionally connect with me too. I want him to become an equal partner.

Our Greatest Struggle

Connecting emotionally has become our greatest marital struggle. It is the crazy cycle that we enter over and over. Usually it goes something like this…

First, I share and it feels so good connecting to let Jim know what is really going on with me. But then I start wondering about him. As I get naked emotionally, he stays safe. He’s like a spectator, like he’s going along for the ride without really participating, and I start to feel hurt.

So, I start asking him questions and soon he’s sharing surface details about his day.  Sometimes I am fine with our conversations, but other times I just crave something deeper. And as I start pushing, my husband begins to get that deer in the headlights look of, “I have no idea what you are talking about it.” When I ask how he feels about something, it is as if I am asking him to speak a foreign language. And I feel like I am banging my head against the wall over and over because he never really gets how to emotionally connect.

In my deepest darkest times of frustration over my husband’s lack of skill at connecting emotionally, I have thought, “this must be what it feels like to a man when his wife does not understand the importance of sex!”

Disclosure: What follows uses generalizations about men and women to illustrate a point. If you don’t fit these generalizations then please don’t take offense. Even though your marriage may not fit this scenario, figure out your spouse’s individual desire, take it seriously, and do what you can to grow so that you can meet it.

Different Languages

Men and women seem to speak different languages. When our spouse asks us to speak their language, it feels foreign, terrifying and at times absolutely impossible.

If you crave connection through sex, then take all your feelings of frustration over your wife ignoring your sexual desires, and realize that she probably feels exactly the same way – just over different issues.  And if you’re banging your head against the wall because your husband doesn’t know how to open up and talk from the heart, then understand how hurt he feels because you won’t take steps to embrace sexuality as a powerful way for the two of you to connect.

Learning a New Language

Use your frustration to create compassion towards your spouse and to motivate you to make changes. Just like learning a foreign language, learning something new will require intention. It will not just happen. You may need to take a class, see a counselor or read a book to get started. Learning a new language will take practice and time. If you only remember to apply yourself after a fight, you will make little progress. If you feel coerced or forced to learn something new,  your Spirit will rebel with a, “You can’t make me do it attitude.” Do it because you love your spouse, because you want a better marriage, and because God wants you to learn something new.

You might even feel like what your spouse desires is impossible and want to give up. Change is hard and you can’t do it on your own. But with friends to encourage you along the way, and by depending on Christ, all things are possible.

Our Journey

Some people might think that I am crazy for expecting my husband to learn to connect emotionally. After all, men just don’t operate that way. The same could be said for expecting women to learn to crave and enjoy sex. We just aren’t wired that way, but we can learn new things. When we don’t, we miss out on an amazing part of life.

Little by little, my husband and I will continue our journeys of learning to speak a foreign language. Though I might have embraced connecting through sex first, he has begun to understand my deep desire to connect emotionally. Recently he has made huge strides and I give him a lot of credit. Often those first steps are the scariest. I hope that some day he enjoys my native language, connecting emotionally, as much as I have learned to enjoy sex.



Comments 6

  1. Thank you for your postings and the good that you do Ruth. I encourage you to reconsider this comment:

    “Some people might think that I am crazy for expecting my husband to learn to connect emotionally. After all, men just don’t operate that way.”

    Well, I’m very much a man, as well as a heterosexual one, and one of my deep desires it to connect emotionally with my wife. I can tell you that I’m not the only one out here, although that doesn’t matter. God made me who I am.

    I am a good communicator and someone who is emotional. It is tiring that those qualities are typically considered female traits. Hey, “Jesus wept.”

    Maybe men are put in boxes of expectations and they’re afraid or not expected to be in touch with their emotions. As it is, I’m coming to grip with the fact that sexual intimacy with my wife continues to greatly decline through the years because of child rearing, busy lives, money problem, unresolved resentments, etc… so what else can I hope for but an emotional connection?

    Please watch out for the global man statements. They isolate me further.

    • mm

      Thank you for your comment. And you are absolutely right that I was speaking in generalities, which is always a dangerous thing. To be honest with you, I know that there are many exceptions, I just get lazy because it is easier to write in generalities. Please forgive me and keep reaching toward your wife any that you can.

  2. Thank you for this reminder and encouragement!
    I know this subject of emotional connection is mostly being talked about from the angle of “women are the ones that look for the emotional connection and men are the ones avoiding it”. In my experience that is not the case. Maybe I’m different and I also see many husbands commenting on blogs who are looking for emotional connection with their wives much more then she does.
    In our marriage I am almost always the one looking to make an emotional connection where my wife seems to be much happier with allot less.
    But one thing that is being talked about very little is “emotional connection in the sexual arena of a marriage”. That I think is what men are missing the most and may be a great way for a wife to get her husband to open up emotionally.

    • mm

      Thank you for your comment. Yes I agree that there are many exceptions and I should have added a disclosure that my generalizations don’t apply to everyone.
      But you end with a paragraph saying that a great way to get a husband to open up emotionally is to connect through sex. I understand that might be what comes naturally to him, but can’t he learn to connect emotionally even when he hasn’t had sex? Just like, can’t wives learn to connect during sex, even when they don’t feel emotionally connected to their husband. When can we learn to take responsibility and learn something new regardless of what our spouse does? I cringe at the idea that I need to have sex with my husband so that he will talk to me. I have sex with him because I want to love and connect with him.

      • “But you end with a paragraph saying that a great way to get a husband to open up emotionally is to connect through sex.”

        I think you may have misunderstood me. I did not mean “to connect THROUGH sex”. I meant “to make an emotional connection through our joint sexuality”. Maybe that doesn’t make any sense to you, but to me, I can have a wonderful emotional connection with my wife talking about our sexual relationship, things we heard, read or thought about that day, that have to do with our sexuality or sexual relationship. Or share goals for the future, or experiences from the past in that area.
        The way I see it, it’s true that most men are not enticed that easily by some of the everyday (sometimes even mundane) things that happened in his wife’s life (even for a guy like me who likes to talk), but she can get his attention any day with the subject of sex. And who knows, after she created a great emotional connection to him, she may even be in the mood. But for me, unless we haven’t had any in days, it’s not a must, just a great connection.

        To me there are many different emotional connections about different subjects. Not all are equally interesting to every man. Find what turns his wheel and start there.

        • mm

          Thanks for explaining. I agree that talking about sex is a great way to connect emotionally and like you said, can lead to great sex afterwards.

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