Focus on the Family

Starting a Conversation

If you are have trouble starting conversations with your spouse, acknowledging that can be an excellent conversation starter.

by James Groesbeck, Amy Swierczek

Perhaps you are having trouble getting conversations started with your spouse. Maybe you're avoiding certain topics. Maybe you or your spouse isn't much of a talker. Maybe you just don't know how to begin.

Fortunately, acknowledging that can be an excellent way to start a conversation. Be honest and state your lack of confidence. Stating your concerns and fears can open the conversational door.

If this is a problem area for you and your spouse, consider the following steps to beginning a conversation.

  1. Identify your concerns. Put your thoughts on paper. Practice saying them in front of a mirror if that boosts your confidence. When you begin your conversation, you may even want to read aloud what you've written. That's okay. As you talk, don't expect your partner to know what's on your mind—and don't make him guess. Keep clarifying things by asking your spouse what he's heard you say or read and what he thinks about it.
  2. Get the timing right. None of us likes to be inconvenienced. Look for the right opportunity to begin your conversation. Is your spouse tired or preoccupied? It might be wise to wait until she's rested and you have her full attention. If you have children, get them involved in some activity before you begin your conversation.
  3. Honor your spouse's time. Don't waste it. Be succinct; don't belabor your point. Make sure you have sufficient time to complete the conversation well. Allow time for feedback during your talk, too.
  4. Use body language. Look your spouse in the eye directly, lovingly, and respectfully, and state your desire to begin a conversation. Ask your mate to sit down with you; take her hand in yours and speak calmly. The eyes can truly be a window to the mind and soul, and touch can allow you to show loving feelings.
  5. Keep your partner's communication style in mind. People find us most attractive when we communicate in their style—in a way that's familiar and comfortable to them. If your partner likes facts, give him facts. If she likes details, tell the story. If she values warmth, take time to connect relationally. If he wants choices, give options. If she needs time to process, slow down. If he likes a rapid pace, get to the point. If she's analytical, provide data.
  6. Include your partner's interests. If your spouse is interested in football, finances, movies — start with that subject. It's a most natural way to enter a conversation, even if the topic ends up veering in another direction.
  7. Be interesting. Ask yourself why your spouse would want to listen to you in the first place. Be a creative and stimulating partner. Discover how to capture your mate's attention. If you're boring and negative, your conversation will be dull and depressing. If this is the case, you have some work to do.
  8. Be realistic. Don't set yourself up for disappointment. If the two of you find it difficult to start a conversation, keep it simple. Don't assume you can have a deeply intimate, nurturing conversation immediately if you've never had one before. Start with the basics. Do fun activities together. Laugh. Build a foundation for deeper conversations. Take one step at a time.
  9. Seek to accept and bring joy to your spouse. Beginning conversations is much easier when your spouse knows you won't ridicule him or her. Learn to lovingly accept and enjoy each other, even when your opinions differ. Let your spouse know that you're on the same team and that you support him or her 100 percent. Be your mate's number one fan!
  10. Be appreciative and infuse hope. Thank your spouse for listening to you. Tell him he encourages you and that you want to encourage him. Life on earth is difficult—sometimes awful—and we need to be "life-givers" to our mates. When we speak words of hope to our spouses, we speak life and love. Remember Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

If all of this seems overwhelming, don't be discouraged. Just start and be patient and persistent; pick one or two ideas and begin!