I'm a "searcher" who's always looking at new ideas, and sometimes I feel stifled by his lack of curiosity and depth. I know he believes in God and lives a giving life, and his work consumes a lot of his time and energy, but I also want and need more stimulation than I'm getting from him. I've tried to just see his positive qualities, but at the end of the day, I need someone to talk to and share things with. Although I have mentioned my needs to him more than once, he is unwilling or unable to meet them. I realize this is a "typical" male/female problem, but knowing that doesn't make it go away.
--Ellie from Tucson
A: You're correct that this is a common male/female problem, and in years of counseling couples we have seen many examples of this dynamic, even with the gender roles reversed--if a man loves to talk about his feelings and the relationship, he usually winds up with a woman who doesn't. The dynamic also exists in gay and lesbian relationships. But its presence is usually an indication of complementary strengths, not irreconcilable differences. It is helpful to recognize that your situation is not an aberration, although we understand that pointing this out does not relieve the distress you are feeling.
There's a tendency today to believe that individuals who talk, share their feelings, and know all the current, popular, spiritual concepts are also higher beings. This simply isn't true. In fact, many, if not most, of the deeply spiritual people we know do not talk about their spirituality. They practice it in daily life.
Your husband, even if he won't talk about it, is aware of your dissatisfaction with him. And it probably feels like a criticism and a judgment to him. No one becomes a more sensitive and generous person by being judged. Relinquishing judgment not only frees him but it also frees you. However, this doesn't mean that you will suddenly be free of your need for communication and stimulation.
You don't want to move from fighting your husband's need for silence to fighting your own need to talk. Instead, acknowledge your need and be open, creative, and willing to experiment by seeking new ways to meet it. It is rare indeed that a relationship gives both people everything they want today and forever. People's needs change, situations change, even personalities change, and part of maintaining a healthy, strong relationship is accepting these changes when they occur, just as every loving parent accepts the changes in their children, and every loving friend is tolerant of the stages their friends go through.
Above all, remember that your best friend is always with you. Talk often to the One who never leaves your side and never leaves you comfortless. Remember, in that relationship, you are always welcome.