He Didn’t Say
I can’t give you my recipe for a successful marriage because I don’t have one. My husband moved to another state four years ago and is involved with another woman. What I can do is give you advice about how to not go wrong in terms of communication in your relationship based on my experience at failure.
Perhaps the simplest thing you can do as far as communication in a relationship is to keep your messages kind. It sounds simple, but it is easy to minimize how important this is.
The only time I heard my husband say I was beautiful in 36 years was when he concurred with someone else’s opinion. When I told him a friend I’d met in the supermarket parking lot told me I looked beautiful, he said “You are beautiful.” Most women really like to hear kind words like this. I don’t know why my husband never said it.
We need to ask for what we want and clearly communicate those needs. We need to be heard and also hear what our partner says. One of the biggest predictors of divorce according to many experts is the practice of stonewalling.
Wikipedia defines stonewalling as a refusal to communicate or cooperate. Such behaviour occurs in situations such as marriage guidance counseling, diplomatic negotiations, politics and legal cases. Body language may indicate and reinforce this by avoiding contact and engagement with the other party. People use deflection in a conversation in order to render a conversation pointless and insignificant. Tactics in stonewalling include giving sparse, vague responses, refusing to answer questions, or responding to questions with additional questions. In most cases, stonewalling is used to create a delay, rather than to put the conversation off forever.
With the clear vision of hindsight, I now know why my husband stonewalled me whenever I wanted to discuss why he was so cold, distant and preoccupied. I think he was trying to protect us both from the truth. What this did was simply delay the inevitable. He knew he couldn’t live with my disability until death but it was too painful to admit it. Some hard truths slowly slipped out and were incredibly painful to hear. He didn’t love me like he used to and felt it was more like the love between a brother and sister. He was not physically attracted to me anymore. I struggled to find ways to improve our connection not knowing he was already checked out.
He actually went for therapy supposedly to help figure out a way back to me, but it turned into more of a treatment for his drug problem. There was more stonewalling whenever I wanted to discuss how he was doing. This was tricky because I know we are allowed to keep thoughts and feelings to ourselves. We went for counseling together, too, but I never got the answers to my questions there, either.
I’m not sure knowing the answers to my questions would have prevented the marriage from ending in separation. It’s entirely possible we would have had more to work with if there was more open communication.
Stonewalling becomes a vicious cycle that leads to more distance between partners. It begins as a protective measure, but will spiral out of control if left unchecked.