What to do When Your Spouse Won’t Talk to You

A partner’s silence is common in relationships, and it can occur for a variety of reasons.  At times, your partner might simply feel like there is nothing to say, and at other times your partner might be punishing you with the “silent treatment.”  Distinguishing between the two is important, but usually a no-brainer. Sometimes, though, you need to communicate and you’re left wondering what to do when your spouse won’t talk to you.

Knowing your partner is essential to deciphering the reason for their silence.  If your partner is the quiet type, it will be easier to realize that they are being quiet because they are deep in thought, processing, or reflecting on the day’s events.  Many partners are often happiest when they sit next to their loved ones without saying a word. It is usually pretty easy for a person to tell if their partner is being quiet out of anger or spite.  Angry, or negative, silence can look like passive aggression or avoidance.  When introverted people are in conflict, they will retreat within themselves and stop talking to regulate emotionally.  Or, they might be quiet around their partners in order to keep the peace “at all costs.”  People who feel like any form of talking will lead to a fight will try to keep the relationship peaceful by remaining silent. So, what is the best way to deal with a silent partner? There are two exceptionally important facets to dealing with a partner’s silence: support and attentiveness.

There are two exceptionally important facets to dealing with a partner’s silence:
support and attentiveness.

First, remind your partner that you care, and try to draw them out with kindness.  Think about what specific gestures make your spouse feel loved. Consider when they typically feel safest opening up to you and try to create similar circumstances. Do everything from a foundation of love and support.  This will help your partner feel safe enough to discuss whatever is on their mind. In general, be sure to check your tone when talking to a silent partner.  Talking too loudly will make your partner feel like you are upset with them personally, instead of upset with the problem, and when someone feels attacked, their natural response will be to attack back or shut down.  So, remember to speak softly and regulate the volume of your voice, especially when you are in an argument.

Second, listen.  Your partner might be trying to tell you something with their silence.  Be curious about what the message is, but don’t poke and prod.  Relentlessly pursuing your partner when they are being silent will only make them more silent and possibly defensive. Instead, let your partner know that they can tell you whatever is on their mind when they are ready and make yourself available. If your partner is introverted, try to meet them where they’re at.  Don’t try too hard to force conversation.  Try to give them as much silence as they need.  Check in on them if you are concerned, but do so in a way that makes them feel safe.  Be curious rather than accusing.

Be curious rather than accusing.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your own vulnerability. Communicate your emotions surrounding whatever situation is at hand. Admit that you are sad to feel so disconnected. Say that you are afraid of losing her. Tell him you can’t stand the feeling that he might be in pain and you can’t do anything about it. Creating a safe place for feelings means sharing your own. Sometimes just because you know what to do when your partner won’t talk to you doesn’t mean it always works. If you are making no headway communicating on an emotional level with your silent partner, don’t be afraid to seek outside help to recover your connection.


– Foley, Todd. “FocusOnTheFamily.” Silent Storm: When Your Spouse Won’t Talk. Focus on the Family, 2013. Web. 16 July 2015. <http://www.focusonthefamily.ca/marriage/conflict/silent-storm-when-your-spouse-wont-talk>.
– Fox, Mike & Trisha. “When Your Spouse Is the Silent Type.” Christian Post. Christian Post, 2011. Web. 16 July 2015. <http://www.christianpost.com/news/when-your-spouse-is-the-silent-type-55108/>

Read More

Counseling with Estes Therapy

All you need to know about counseling

Recognizing Unwanted Behaviors: How our Childhood Experience Affects our Adult Life

body language communicaiton advice

What is Your Body Language Saying About You?

Get To Know Jennine Estes: Therapist & Relationship Expert

how to stop the negative thinking

Stop Critical Thinking: Live Without Beating Yourself Up

Healthy Communication: It’s Not What You Said But How You Said It

It’s been nearly 20 years since I first became interested in studying psychotherapy. I began practicing the scientific approaches to psychotherapy in 1997 and I was hooked from then on.

I earned my Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family psychotherapy in 2004 and I am currently licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist MFT (LMFT#47653) with the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS).

I focus my practice upon the empirically-based and proven research methods of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

I’ve seen these techniques consistently get results and I truly believe they are the most effective at creating positive, long-term change.

Schedule an Appointment

Seeking a therapist can be the best thing you do not just for your relationship, but for yourself. If you are seeking compassionate, knowledgeable, and understanding professional help, we invite you to explore our services. We are here to help you make the most of your life.