Los Angeles Times
Piquing husband’s interest
Dear Amy: I have been married for 10 years. We have a 5-year-old son.
My husband is fantastic; however, he takes zero interest in what is going on in my life. He never asks me how my day is, or wants more details about anything, even if he knows that something important is going on.
I have expressed this frustration multiple times, and he may ask once, but he’ll never ask again.
I will ask him about his day, and he always says, “The usual.”
How can I get him to care what’s going on in my life?
Dear Bewildered: Most of us learn our communication styles from our family of origin. Your husband may have learned very early on that staying quiet was the best course for him.
You see this as him not caring about what is going on in your life.
I see this as the two of you not knowing how to engage in intimate spoken communication. It takes practice.
Just because you love and care about each other doesn’t mean that you can read one another’s minds.
Speaking really needs to happen.
If your husband always answers “the usual” when you ask him about his day, he’s not providing any information for you two to engage in a conversation.
You might encounter a similar dynamic once your child is a little older. (“How was school?” “Fine.”)
Asking more open-ended questions might draw him out. Instead of “How was your day,” try, “Tell me about your day.”
In addition to not telling his own story, your husband is not being responsive, but this doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t care about what’s going on with you.
One suggestion is for you to “call a meeting.” In my (sometimes very crowded) family, we will call a meeting when we have something important to discuss. This is giving family members advance notice that cellphones will be down, eyes will be up, and they’re expected to listen and participate.
Learning intimate communication is not easy, but it can be done.
Well-known relationship researcher John Gottman has done important work in decoding how people make “bids” for connection. Try his book “The Relationship Cure: A 5-Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships”
(with Joan DeClaire).
Once you recognize communication patterns, you can begin to change the way you interact.
Dear Amy: I just got upset at my husband because I found out that he put his mom as his first contact on his driver’s license. He listed me as his second contact.
Am I overreacting or being selfish? I feel hurt because I’m his wife!
Dear Hurt: Listing his mother as his emergency contact might have been your husband’s first instinct, but I’d say it might be a poor choice.
Of the two of you — his mother or you — which person is more likely to be able to react quickly if your husband is in an accident? Most likely you, assuming you are healthy and able, and always have your phone nearby and charged.
All the same, I think you might be overreacting.
Depending on how healthy your relationship is, this seems more a curious choice than a deliberately hurtful one.