I strongly believe that one early indication that your marriage might be in trouble is the fact that you and your spouse rarely talk anymore. This was one warning sign that I missed, assuming that my husband and I had just hit a "comfortable phase" where we were mostly just reading one another's thoughts. This was a huge mistake on my part and it lead to a painful separation (which eventually ended with our marriage intact,  but not before causing a lot of turmoil.) That's why I always feel it is vital to pay attention if you see this happening in your marriage.

I might hear a wife describe it this way: "last night, I decided to have a little experiment and I decided to time how long it was before my husband and I had any conversation. I knew that I should be looking for a quality conversation that was meaningful, but I also knew, based on how little my husband and I talk lately that this wasn't going to be likely. So I decided I would settle for any conversation - even about something as trivial as to weather. And do you know what I found? That we went about forty-eight minutes between the time I started counting until the time he asked me what time his favorite sitcom was on. I answered his question and then it was another 37 minutes until he asked me what was for dinner. We honestly never talk anymore, not even about the small things. My husband isn't a big conversationalist, but he was always able to talk to me before. What does this mean? Is it something that I should worry about? How do I fix this?"

The Damage Caused When Communication Shuts Down: Well, as I've alluded to before, I think that this is potentially something to worry about. I'm certainly not a mental health professional, nor can I tell you that every time the communication shuts down, that you have a martial crisis on your hands.

But I do think that it is safe to say that when communication shuts down, both spouses feel more distant to one another and it erodes intimacy, which is vitally important in a healthy marriage. So this is not anything which I would encourage you to ignore and just hope that it goes away or improves on its own. Instead, I'd urge you to be very proactive. You want to get back on track as quickly as you can. With that said, you don't want to panic and push too hard or force it. And the reason is that you don't want every conversation that you have to feel awkward and forced, as this is almost worse than having no conversation at all.

How To Get The Conversation Flowing Again: Honestly, most people would assume that you need to have difficult conversations and you need to have them fast. To be honest, I disagree. The hard conversations are probably a bit too ambitious at this point. I'd certainly encourage you to put the hard conversations on your radar for later.

But if you want to get the conversation flowing in a way that feels relatively painless for both of you (and so that you don't meet resistance from your husband,) then I believe that the best way to do this is to start small and go for easier topics where you know that you are going to have some success. Sure, you will be talking about light things of little consequence but at least you will be talking.

And by starting small, you are showing both yourself and your spouse that you can start talking again and be comfortable doing it. Keep the conversation light. Try to make sure that you are laughing and having an easy back and forth banter. Work on this for as long as it takes. You want the conversation to flow very easily and to become a habit.

You don't want to rush this because you do not want this process to feel forced in any way. People often get a lot of anxiety about this because they think that it shouldn't be so much work. They remember back to when they were dating and when they could talk for hours and lose track of time. But what they forget is that when they first met their spouse, they had to be a good conversationalist. They had to ask open-ended questions in order to pave the way for that easy rapport that came next.

The same thing is true now. You can't always expect the conversation to flow without your helping it along a little. Ask questions. Share your own insights and work at it if you need to but do not stop your efforts.

When this is so natural that you are not even thinking about it anymore, only then should you even think about having the "important talks" about why you lost your communication in the first place. The answer may be as simple as you got into the habit of silence. It happens and it doesn't always have to mean that you no longer love your spouse as much as you used to. It can just mean that you became comfortable and stopped working quite as hard.

This is all very normal. But it is not optimal. Talking is one important way to feel connected and intimate with your spouse. Both are very important. And when you notice them leaving your relationship, then it is important to take action.

I know that it's possible to tell yourself that perhaps you've run out of things to talk about, but don't take that escape route.  This is your marriage that you are talking about.  You want to have meaningful conversations for the rest of your life.   This is a very straightforward way to keep your marriage strong.  I wish I had listened to this advice myself.  I let things slide with my own marriage until it lead to a separation, at which time I had to slowly rebuild my marriage.   You're welcome to read more on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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