Marriage Monday: 6 Tips for Encouraging an Open Discussion with your Spouse, When a Spouse Withdraws, Opening up with your Spouse, Sharing the Hard Stuff in a Marriage

 Marriage Monday:
6 Tips for an Open Discussion with Your Spouse

In the early years of my marriage, when life got overwhelming, my “go-to” was to withdraw. And by this, I mean withdraw emotionally and physically. I wanted to be alone, go hide in my bedroom, and if necessary, curl up into a fetal position on my bed (or floor in some cases). And then, well then, I would cry.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how this could lead to some problems, confusion, and frustration for my man and I. My newly married hubby wanted to offer comforting words to me; I didn’t want to listen to him. My newly married hubby wanted to hold me; I didn’t want him to touch me. My newly married hubby wanted to know what was wrong; I didn’t want to talk. The list goes on.

As we continued to grow and strengthen our relationship, things began to change. We began to communicate more clearly with one another. Walls began to crumble, as we shared our fears and hurts, our pasts, and our dreams for the future.

A beautiful thing happened through this growing process. I began to open up and let him know when I felt I was heading into one of those overwhelming spots. In fact, he began to pick up on my subtle (and even unconscious) cues that “told” him I was heading into one of those situations. I began to allow him to speak words of truth to me. He began to learn when to not speak, and when to just listen. I began to long for him to hold me; he began to ask if he could do so. I began to share what I was experiencing; and he learned when to ask, and when to give me space.

Marriage is a delicate dance, isn’t it. It’s easy to step on the toes of the one dancing closely with us. It’s easy to make mistakes in timing. Or to not trust the other with the dips in our lives.

And yet, when we are willing to put the time in to learn how to navigate that dance, it is such a beautiful thing. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes patience. And practice. And persistence. But, it can get to the point where you are truly enjoying the dance…and actually pretty good at it too.

Now, forty years into our marriage, our dance looks so much different than it did in those early years. You will be hard pressed to find me sneaking off alone to our room gearing up to get into that fetal position. The reasons are varied. But basically, Todd can tell when I’m heading down that road, often before I am even thinking about it. He can pick up on my mood changes. The frequency of tears shed. The lack of laughter.

And I am able to share my heart with him. I trust him with every part of my being. So, when I am disappointed, fearful, or sad, I can share that with him.

The picture of me, alone in our room, on the bed in a ball is no more. Instead, the picture you will see is a woman leaning on the shoulder of her man, as he embraces her. Tears trickling down her cheek, as he asks her if she just needs space to cry or if he should offer some words of encouragement. And, the dance continues.

Practical Tips for Strengthening Your Marriage this Week

*Identify whether your “go to” is to withdraw from your pain or share your pain with your spouse.

*Ask your spouse if s/he thinks you have identified yourself correctly in regards to the above.

*Share with one another examples of why you think this about yourself and/or the other person. Remember, this is a discussion to encourage openness, not to shame the other for not opening up more quickly.

*Ask your spouse to share a specific area of his/her life in which you could help him/her to be more open.

*Ask your spouse to share with you some tips on how s/he could identify the beginning symptoms of when you are starting to withdraw.

*Pray for your spouse today. If s/he will pray with you in person, do that. If not, pray for them on your own. Below is a prayer you can use if you’d like:

            Heavenly Father, I thank you for the gift you have given me in my spouse. I want to grow closer to my husband/wife. I want to connect with him/her in a more meaningful and deep way. Please give me the ears to hear and eyes to see when s/he is in pain or starting to withdraw from me. Give me the direction to proceed forward in a way that honors my spouse and you, as I walk alongside my spouse through the situation s/he is walking right now. Thank you Lord, for directing us and for strengthening our marriage even right now, as I say this prayer. In Jesus Name, Amen

Todd and Misty are certified Marriage Mentors, and are commited to helping others strengthen their marriage. Thank you for reading this blog. If you found it helpful, please like, message, comment, or pass it on to someone else. Thanks! You may also sign up here to receive reminders and links to Marriage Monday and Misty's monthly devotional newsletter: I hope you have a wonderful week and that you remember to prioritize your marriage...because it matters. 


Misty Cramer is an author & speaker who recently released her first book. The Every Day God, 40 Daily Devotions for Walking with God through Everyday Moments, quickly made its way to Amazon's #1 New Release and Best Seller lists in multiple categories. In this book, she authentically shares her own story to remind us all that God has a specific plan, even in the midst of life's messes. She has been married to Todd for 39 years and has five adult sons. While they enjoy their time as "empty nesters" in rural Michigan, they also love visits from their sons, two daughters-in-law, and three granddaughters. Misty sends out a monthly devotion as part of her newsletter, and she'd love to send it along to you. The link to subscribe to the devotion, as well as the link to Misty's book can be found below:

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