The Dance of Connection

Rescuing women and men from the quicksand of difficult relationships.

Married to a Non-Talker?

Lighten up about differences.

If you’re a talker, you may find it hard it to live with a more private do-it-yourselfer. Surely, this is a difference that makes a difference. Maybe you admired his cool, self-reliant style when you first met, but what initially attracts us and what later becomes “the problem” are often one and the same.

While self-disclosing is one way to be intimate, it’s not the only way. Social psychologist Carol Tavris recalls:

Years ago, my husband had to have some worrisome medical tests, and the night before he was to go to the hospital we went to dinner with one of his best friends who was visiting from England. I watched, fascinated, as male stoicism combined with English reserve produced a decidedly unfemale-like encounter. They laughed, they told stories, they argued about movies, they reminisced. Neither mentioned the hospital, their worries or their affection for each other. They didn’t need to.

Try to appreciate the fact that you and your partner may have opposite ways of managing emotional intensity and getting comfortable. You’ll do better engaging your partner in conversation, if you keep in mind that connection in marriage takes different forms, and love is communicated in different ways.

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Maintaining privacy may not be your partner’s way of hiding out, but rather his preferred way of being in the world. Try to welcome that “way” rather than wasting energy trying to change it.

 Remember Rule #2 in Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled UpUnder stress, don't press. It's an act of maturity to recognize that differences don't mean that one person is right and the other is wrong.

 

 

 

 

Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., is best known for her work on marriage and family relationships and the psychology of women. Her book The Dance of Anger has recently been reissued.

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