Dear Renita,
My husband does not speak to me. He is quiet most of the time and spends his free time watching television or sleeping. When we are together he keeps reading the newspaper. I keep telling him things, but then I too feel bored because there is no response from his side. He has one friend whom he meets often and I have seen that he is happy in his company. Now I am expecting our baby and most days I feel so sick and lonely. He does not even bother to ask if I am ok. The only thing he discusses with me is money. I am a software professional and most of my time at the office is spent in front of a monitor. Going back home I still feel lonely and sometimes I feel I will forget to speak.

I have tried talking to him about this but he puts the fault on me. He says I love you, but does that mean I keep telling you everything? Our other problem is he doesn't like my parents and sister, and he finds all kind of silly matters to fight with me regarding them.

The only thing I do is pray about it. I have not discussed this with anyone except you now. I feel he is only bothered about money and himself and nothing else. Maybe I am wrong.

Kindly pray for me,
--My Husband Doesn't Speak

Dear "My Husband Doesn't Speak,"
It is impossible to know whether money, in-laws, or something else is eating away at your husband and causing him to clam up if he won't open up and clear the air between you two. And you are right to be concerned about his silent treatment, especially now that the two of you are expecting a new baby in the house. Sure, a newborn baby has been known to bring couples closer than they ever thought possible, but I wouldn't count on it. Couples who rate their communication level as strong before having a baby have been known to experience meltdown in their relationship from the stresses and strains of late-night feedings and ongoing sleep deprivation.

It's possible, of course, that your husband appears more alive around his friends because there's no pressure to talk about his feelings or anything up-close and intense in their company. Face-to-face talk about personal feelings is too intense for lots of men. Have you tried writing letters or dropping him an email inviting him to open up about what he's feeling? Some men find the personal exchange of email or notes a more satisfying way of sharing. Face-to-face, verbal repartee with women who seem never at a loss for words can be intimidating to some men.

Could it be also that he's more outgoing around his friends because they share interests in certain activities that excite him, or that he feels that his friends accept him the way he is and don't pressure him to change? Why not try finding an activity the two of you can share which might provide a new boding experience for the two of you? Better yet, how about experimenting with a new way of approaching him when you want to talk? Try striking up a conversation for the next few days without whining, complaining, criticizing, fault-finding, or taking jibes at him for something he's done or failed to do. Try complimenting him on something he's done or approaching neutral topics where neither of you has to win or be right. Sometimes in our zeal to be helpful and to stay on task, we don't know how to communicate with our partners without giving them a list of reminders or complaining about things that haven't been done.

It may seem that I'm saying that it's the wife's fault when her husband shuts down and refuses to talk. That is not what I mean to communicate. Self-examination is just one place to start when you're trying to figure out what is wrong in the relationship.

Let's be clear: Living with a spouse who won't open up and communicate his feelings can be maddening and demoralizing. You begin your prayers with "Is it me, God? If so, show me where I've wronged and offended him." After months of silence of being giving the cold shoulder you find yourself praying, "It must be me, God. What other explanation can there be for months of silence?" Silence, especially from someone you love, feels like a form of violence. It's almost always a tool for controlling you. You're reduced to groveling, feeling anxious, and second-guessing yourself.

You and your husband simply have to find a way to open up the communication between you if this marriage has any chance of survival. Marriage counseling is a route you may want to consider. Your baby deserves to be born into a family where there's love and open communication between the parents. Remember: babies are unable to explain what they are feeling or why they are crying, and so we're left to scrambling and having to figure out what they need at that moment. But husbands can talk, and must do so if they want their marriage to be healthy, happy, and mutually satisfying.

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