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How do you get your partner to open up?


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I have told my Fiancee many times that I would like for him to say more and open up more when I share my feelings on things. He doesn't say too much about what I say and when he doesn't it makes me think or feel that he doesn't care. When we have talked about this he has told me he is not used to opening up and sharing his feelings- he says he tends to hold it in- he also told me that he doesn't always know the words in English to express himself, he speaks Spanish better than English.


To me if you love someone and want them to be your future bride, wouldn't it make sense to share your feelings and open up more? I would think if you love someone you would have lots to say! Right!? I always express myself to him and I wish he would do more of the same. Granted he does show me that he cares by his actions but for me I like hearing it too! I like both. Many of people said maybe he likes showing more than telling but for me if I hear it too I feel more better! I have told him many of times about this, I just don't know what else I can say or do, so he does open up more? Any suggestions?

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Hi Lauren,


I think the problems here may be many e.g.


he doesn't always know the words in English to express himself


- just this to start with is very challenging for him. Additionally, he is perhaps self-conscious of how he comes accross and the language barrier may prevent him from expressing


himself how he wants to - it actually creates a sense of responsibility in one partner who feels they aren't as capable as their significant other, especially if part of a person's character is they want to feel able to express themselves accurately, as they would in their own language.


The fact really positive fact here though is that he is very self-aware because he has openly said:


he is not used to opening up


he tends to hold it in


So I think its worth reviewing your statement:


if you love someone and want them to be your future bride, wouldn't it make sense to share your feelings and open up more?


..because while I understand your needs and expectations, he has three hurdles to leap here and hasn't said: "I don't want to" or "I can't" - he's just said he finds it difficult that's all. As his confidence in speaking your native language improves, I think this will act as an overall improvement on his general communication with you.


Also, bear in mind - no man (or woman!) wants to feel as if they are failing in their partner's eyes, but repeatedly pushing him to do what you want may make it harder for him to open up - people often need to open up in their own time - they know they need to, they know you want them to, but frequent pressurising isn't going to help him, in light of what I have said above that he hasn't blocked communication with you in any way by saying he can't or won't open up and talk to you.


Perhaps also, you find it easier and good at expressing yourself emotionally, while he feels in catch up all the time.

To reduce his anxiety I think it might be really helpful to him to show you understand how he feels and encourage him with information that tells him you are patient and accepting of where he is at and that you respect his choice to be able to open up in his own time.. you've said how you feel to him enough times now, I don't think hearing it over and over again is going to help him anymore now - just acceptance and patience in that order.


I think attaching and "if" statement to him changing, is not helpful because it adds unnecessary pressure to the situation.

I think you need to have faith in his ability to get there in his own time and not assume he doesn't love you or isn't loving you enough to be your husband - he is showing you what marriage is: ie not always ideal and with plenty of things to work on to improve between you, communication always being the central an ongoing challenge for both of you, because no matter how much more easily you communicate than him, you've got to remember that just because he's not there now that doesn't mean to say that he is not capable, not willing and can't find it just as easy as you do with time.


Also, you need to question your needs around needing to have him tell you when he ALREADY shows you!? Especially the bit about:


I feel more better


because it's like what he DOES is not enough, when in fact that's a lot.. especially when you think that lots of people say things but rarely show it!! Many would prefer being shown, because words can be cheap and then never amount to anything other just words.., so you're very blessed there with him doing that - that's something to be grateful for about him as a person.


You sound like you need reassurance all the time but why when from what I can see he isn't not showing you things already - the saying part is nice and we all might want to hear things said, but its really a bonus. Some people as well, just aren't that talkative! - it doesn't automatically mean there's something majorly wrong, it may be part of his personality!


You might have to lower your expectations a little.

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Thanks Sun, yeah your right about everything and hit it on a nail!


I DO need to be more patient with him (but not sure how?) when it comes to opening up but its hard for me because I am impatient and I do like to be reassured. I like hearing things and I agree words are just words and I do agree with actions speak louder than words, but I guess I still need reassurance why I am not sure, and I have told my Fiancee that I am grateful that he DOES show me he cares and he knows I do appreciate that. Maybe, I am the opposite of him, I can express myself well verbally but it's hard for me to show my patients with everything. I know that is something I need to work on better but not exactly sure how to be patient with this. I love him dearly and I think we are a great couple and he has done a lot for me and I am grateful for everything he has done for me but I wish our communication was better and I know the language is a small barrier right now until he improves on his English more and I hope he can and does. I don't want to lose him and I do want a future with him, but he has a lot to work on and I suppose I have some things to work on myself. I know nobody is perfect, but there is always room for improvement! What can I say to him to assure him I am trying my best to be patient with him opening up without sounding demanding or b*thy about it? Thanks for your help Sun you have helped me see things a bit more clearly!

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  • 2 weeks later...

You're welcome Lauren.., glad I could help.


I notice you have said twice that you are a) not sure how to be patient, but patience can really be another way of saying acceptance.. and that takes practise.


It might involve biting your tongue - I don't mean hiding your feelings because that wouldn't be right, I just mean that if you're tempted to repeat what you've already said to him it might be best to leave it, because it could - understandably - be interpreted by him as pressurising or (I'm not necessarily in agreement with this but,..) 'nagging'! - which is bit of a more negative slant IMO, because he already knows what to do..

As well, it has to be his choice. If you try to force it when he's not ready to open up you might make it harder for him to open up and you may build resentment in him because he can't do it when you want him to ie 'on demand' as it were.

Love is very much about acceptance isn't it? About letting people who are willing grow in their own way and time!

He might need a bit of room too, which might help reinforce in his mind and confirm about you that you love him because you are leaving things be, without conditional objectives you want him to meet.


I don't think you will lose him because of this, but if you build it up in to big issue by repeatedly pressing him about it it could cause unnecessary and avoidable tension between you, which could put pressure on your relationship together, because he may start to feel miserable that he feels you are treating him like he is not reaching your standards in some way. You might not be doing this, but you need to keep reminding yourself about what it feels like to be in his shoes.

No doubt, he is an intelligent man and it is not uncommon for people to struggle to learn another language and communicate with somebody else who speaks it fluently. It can feel very embarassing and doubly so if he has a quieter, shyer personality.


I am learning a foreign language and sometimes I feel great about it and confident, other times - because I have an atrocious memory - I lose confidence and go very quiet. Some people can remember things first time round and in every language there are different ways of expressing simple things that can come out all wrong to a learner..! & can be very embarrassing when we get it wrong.. we shouldn't care really, but I for one, like to learn it and feel confident I've got it right before speaking so I take longer to learn and use it. That's another thing to factor in, because he might not want to learn from you - not sure if he has bee doing or is doing - but he might want to learn to speak more fluently with someone he is not close to, so he feels less self-conscious and most of all, less dependent on you in that way - because that in itself can make a partner feel like he/she is not on the same level as their partner as if there is an imbalance in the relationship status between you both as lines become blurred between girlfriend and 'teahcer'.. I know me.. I wouldn't feel comfortable my partner teaching me everything. Just something to think about. Of course, other partners don't mind at all but we some of us do have a good dose of pride in us we want to hang on to!

Good luck with it Lauren.

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