How do I get my boyfriend to open up and share with me what he is thinking when we are having a problem/discussion?
Does that mean he doesn’t talk to you at all? Or does it mean he agrees with everything you say as in “Yes dear,” to get you to shut up and get back to normal?
I’ve taught a couples’ workshop where a woman had a similar complaint to you. She asked, “Why won’t you tell me what you feel?”
He answered, “I would be glad to, but sometimes it takes me a week or two to figure it out.” I was okay with his answer, but shocked when every man in the room nodded vigorously.
Sometimes when you’re having a discussion the agenda is yours and he is caught off guard. He has not been thinking about the subject at all. That seems strange to you because you have probably been thinking carefully about it for some time, before bringing it up.
In either case, the issue is giving your boyfriend enough time to answer — or at least to think about it and answer.
How are you at listening? How are you at asking open-ended questions?
If you ask questions with yes or no answers, that’s exactly the kind of answers you will get. If you make statements instead of asking questions, he won’t have anything to respond to. On the other hand, if you ask something like, “What would you do if….?” Or “What did you think when you…,” of course he may say “I wasn’t thinking about anything” or “I was thinking about whether the car needs new tires” —and he will be right — he did something on automatic without thinking.
On the other other hand, he may be afraid to tell you what he is thinking because he expects you to tell him he is thinking the wrong thing. And of course, he is thinking the wrong thing — like how do I get this to stop so we can get back to normal.
Try saying something like “Is there anything else?” and being quiet for 10 seconds. The 10 seconds will feel like an eternity — maybe to both of you. Sometimes you are so uncomfortable with silence you fill it up and because you are less comfortable, you speak first to fill it up and he never has to do anything about his discomfort.
These suggestions may help.. Maybe the best thing you can do is ask him what you need to do to get him to give you more information about his thoughts and/or his feelings. Then wait for the answer. If he doesn’t answer, ask the same question again. Is this you?“I don’t need therapy, but I could use some advice about…”
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