Is Your Spouse Avoidant? How to Communicate With Them.
We all have different communication styles. If you’re in a marriage with someone who seems to have the opposite style as you, it doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is “doomed”.
What it does mean, however, is that you’ll have to find ways to communicate with your spouse that work for both of you.
That isn’t always easy when your spouse is avoidant. Maybe they try to avoid too much communication, or they shy away from deep conversations.
While they might label themselves as introverted or antisocial, that’s no reason the two of you can’t enjoy meaningful conversations and connections.
So, how can you increase communication (and, as a result, boost your intimacy) with an avoidant spouse?
Don’t Take It Personally
Communication is essential in a relationship. If your spouse is avoidant, it can make you feel like they don’t want to be around you, or even that they aren’t interested in you or the relationship.
That’s rarely the case.
While it’s easy to take it personally and let your self-esteem take a hit, in most cases your spouse isn’t avoiding you because of your imperfect qualities or characteristics. When you choose not to take their communication style as a personal attack, you’re more likely to approach them calmly and with an open mind.
Be Open About What You Want
When you do talk to your spouse, it can be tempting to play the blame game. You might want to tell them everything they’re doing wrong and talk about the things you don’t want in your marriage.
Instead of doing that, tell them what you do want. More importantly, express what you need.
Your spouse isn’t shutting you out because they don’t care about you. For some people who are naturally avoidant, they might need clear, consistent reminders of how to be more present and communicative in the relationship. Use “I” statements as much as possible, avoid blaming them for any problems within the relationship, and don’t overcomplicate your needs.
When they do fulfill those needs and show an active interest in doing so, let them know. Positive reinforcement can go a long way and will encourage them to communicate more frequently.
Understand Their Perspective
As important as it is to communicate your feelings, it might be even more important to listen.
When your spouse does want to open up and talk, be an active listener. Let them know you understand their point of view and their communication style. Validate their feelings, and offer understanding and respect.
When they feel heard and understood, they might start to open up more, or at least put in more effort to fulfill your communicative needs.
Seek Help Together
If you’re struggling to communicate how you feel to your spouse, and you’re not sure how to handle their avoidance, you don’t have to deal with everything on your own.
Often, avoidance stems from childhood. Your spouse may not have had their emotional needs met at a young age. They may have even been discouraged from expressing their emotions.
That can be difficult to change as an adult. However, it’s not impossible as long as that individual is willing to get to the root of the problem. If your spouse is willing to do that, consider encouraging therapy for them. Personalized treatment plans can make a big difference. They can learn more about what caused their avoidant attachment style and how to overcome it.
You might also want to consider couples therapy or an intensive marriage retreat. It can improve communication within your relationship and help to build intimacy while developing a better understanding of each other’s needs.
If these problems sound familiar, your relationship can still be great, and you can have your communicative needs met. Feel free to contact me for more information, or to set up an appointment.
Couples from out of Arizona are welcome to attend one of our intensives.
Maybe a marriage intensive is not right for you. If you are looking for more traditional weekly marriage counseling for your Christian marriage and to be redirected to Crossroads Counseling, click here.