It is not uncommon to hear women who participate in my online coaching program talk about their men and report “my husband is a closed book to me, I don’t know nor understand what is going on in his mind…”.
I’ve often heard confessions of finding this trait intriguing in the beginning of the relationship; he was the big mystery she had set out to solve.
But for some reason she couldn’t get through to him, or he didn’t let her in.
What started as being intriguing soon became concerning. How could you live with someone who does not open up, who does not share their thoughts and feeling and who does not talk?
Eventually this “you are a closed book” is uttered with a sigh of annoyance and accusation. Which is hard to fathom for both of partners.
He, in his view at least, did nothing wrong. So what’s the problem?
But for her, what once was intriguing feels now like too much hard work. She is tired of trying to extract his thoughts and feelings. She is not an expert psychologist. She has her own struggles to deal with. She too then withdraws into her shell.
Two people living two separate lives.
And that is not enough for a loving, intimate and respectful relationship. At least not in my view and obviously not in the view of many women who report these kind of scenarios.
The result is that not only the communication stalls, but also the connection and the commitment get lost along the way.
What you can do…
It is not about the amount of words you say. I know a lot of very talkative women who live together with a more quiet-type of man – and they are happy in their relationship. It is not about the quantity in your conversations ~ it is all about the quality.
If you are living with a “closed book” type of person, first of all accept them as they are. You won’t be able to change them. Only they themselves can change and open up.
Don’t expect that you can be an explorer solving the last big mystery on earth. If your partner is that kind of mystery to you, accept it and stay intrigued. You might not solve the mystery but eventually you might see a change.
And if you are the person, who everyone regards as a “closed book” maybe just try to be a bit more trusting. Understand that you are in a relationship because you don’t want to be alone, because you want to see, feel, touch and love another person.
Just being in a relationship does not cut it. You need to feed that relationship with thoughts, deeds, money and words. Communication is the fuel for any good relationship and good communication is a two-way street.
What’s the benefit?
This is a very challenging question you could ask yourself and try to see the situation from a different perspective. If you see or are part of this consistent “closed book” behaviour, you could ask “what is the benefit here?”
“What’s the point?” I hear you say, “There is no benefit at all!”
But wait, don’t give up so easily. There is a benefit. Maybe you need to look deeper and think deeper. Every behaviour that follows a repetitive pattern is a solution to something. Most of the time we just don’t know the deeper root cause of the behaviour.
When you look a little bit deeper you might be able to isolate some reasons behind his quietness.
Perhaps your partner was hurt in the past and has trust issues, but is learning to be vulnerable with you slowly over time.
Perhaps your partner is happy to just go with the flow, keen to make you happy and enjoying the path your relationship is taking.
Maybe your partner has just always been a quiet type – he is introverted with everyone but most himself when he is with you.
Your scenario will be personal to you and your partner, but there is a solution behind the behaviour pattern. Your realisation might not be the solution to the stalling communication in your relationship but it is a first step to better understanding your partner and their behaviour. With understanding comes acceptance and that would help both of you to be more relaxed.
If you feel that your partner is like a closed book and you don’t find it intriguing anymore, but just concerning, it is time to have a closer look at the state of your relationship as a whole.
My relationship quiz may give you the answer – it only takes 5 minutes to fill it in and you get your score at the end. It’s anonymous, it’s fun and it is amazingly accurate.
Afterwards you could ask your partner to have a go as well and you could compare scores and insights, which is a great starting ground for talking about your relationship and more.
I was listening to a fantastic audiobook yesterday and the author, Steve Chandler, was speaking (writing) about the power of your mind. He discussed the “17 Lies That Are Holding You Back”.
Chandler writes about the idea that whether you see a stick that looks like a snake or you see an actual snake, it actually makes no difference. In both cases your mind does the same. It is a flight response and your body will jump. Even if you really are only looking at a stick, your mind-body-reaction will be the same. He rightly says “perception is reality”.
The reason for this is that our mind is constantly active in interpreting the sounds, smells and sights around us. We are a meaning making machine.
While I was listening to this audiobook and Chandler’s voice I thought, these same principles can be applied to our relationships.
When your spouse says something to you, you are left trying to make meaning out of their words.
Now listen to this: If you only think their words are a criticism or if they are actually trying to criticise you – you will react the same. It makes no difference to your reaction.
If you just think your spouse is scolding you, or whether their intent is to scold you, you will react in the same way. It is like your body jumps, the same reaction as the sight of a stick or snake.
Your perception becomes your reality and that in turn, forms your reaction.
And herein lies a big danger in every relationship. A harmless comment can escalate into a big argument, just because you thought your spouse was mean to you.
A classic example
He comes home from work and looks into the pot simmering on the stove. He asks “what are the green bits in there?”
And her reaction, because she thinks he wants to criticise her and she is already stressed about something else, is: “If you don’t like what I am cooking, why don’t you go home to your mum!”
You can imagine how the rest of the evening could hypothetically turn out.
What you could do
The challenge is that you can’t stop your brain from reacting with fight or flight. It is in our genetics. You may think some comments are an attack and you react accordingly either running away (slamming doors in your wake) or hold against it and a nasty argument ensues.
How about you stop right there and take a deep breath and run the comment you just heard through a filter of Love and Understanding?
Try to understand where your partner is coming from. Are they stressed from their job, children or financial issues? Has anything happened during the day that might have upset them?
And first and foremost, assume that their comment is based on love.
If he wants to know what the greens in the simmering pan are – just tell him: beans or broccoli. He does not want to criticise your cooking, he just wants to know.
And if she wants to know why you haven’t booked the holiday destination yet – just tell her: you haven’t had the time to do so. You could even try thanking her for the reminder. This approach could change the trajectory of the conversation, perhaps even leading to whether it would be better that she offers her input – no harm done.
If you filter these comments through Love and Understanding and give your brain a moment longer than you usually would to process the meaning behind what was said, you will be able to respond better than just with the fight or flight mode.
I am more than happy to support you in quietening down your meaning making machine.
Just organise a free call so that we can have a chat.
And if you want to know more about the 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back, check out Steve Chandler – it’s a great read or audiobook.
A successful, happy and lasting relationship consists of two individuals who are themselves successful, happy and contented. Of course everyone has their own definition of success and there is no point in comparing your life with anybody else. It is important though that you are content with yourself and with your own definition of success. This gives you the perfect starting point for a great relationship.
Working on yourself is the best way to work on your marriage. Whenever I speak to partners in a long-time relationship, I see two people who respect each other, who listen to each other and who stand up for each other.
You can only respect someone else when you respect yourself. You can only listen effectively to someone when you are in control of your own thoughts. You can only stand up for the other person, when you are standing solidly on your own two feet. You need to help yourself before you help others.
You need to put on your Oxygen-mask on first.
Many women come to realising that their relationship has taken a downward turn over the last few years. Sometimes it has taken them over five years to finally admit that their relationship is in trouble.
It is hard to imagine what must go on in the minds of these women (and men) each and every day.
You feel trapped in a situation and you can’t see the way out.
What you can do…?
There are always three doors you can choose from. And the choice is more difficult for each different door.
The first door is to do nothing and stay in your unhealthy or even toxic relationship. This is the easiest door, but at the same time, it is the one that leaves you feeling unhappy, sick and eventually unhealthy.
You are in a difficult relationship. You can see it. Still, you stay put and keep up with it each and every day. And you hope against all odds that it will be better one day in the future.
The second door is to walk away. Separation – Divorce – Split up.
What a crazy idea? You lose half of your assets, you lose half of your friends, you may lose the worry-free connection with your kids. And the memories you have of the last few years become tainted with the feeling of “not good enough”.
This step is a very hard step and many, many people stay in unhealthy relationships because they fear the unknown.
Where am I going to live?
Will I ever fall in love again?
Will anyone fall in love with me?
Because we don’t know the answer to these questions we stay put and chose the first door.
The third door is even more difficult to grasp.
This door is all about change. And you’ve heard me saying it before, “you can’t make your partner change, you can only change yourself”. In other words, the third door is about yourself.
You need to realise that you need to change to eventually change your relationship for the better. You need to own it. You need to be empowered. You need to change!
Believe me, the first two doors are undoubtedly much easier to walk through.
When you have decided that the third door is the right path for you, contact me because that is where I can help you.
You deserve to live in a loving, intimate and respectful relationship.
Let me help you to achieve that.
Simply send me an email to welcome@Inspiring-Relationships.com.au and we take it from there.
“Why Money is more important than Sex”
How to create and maintain a loving, intimate and respectful relationship
This book is for every person who wants to work on their relationship and learn more about how to maintain a loving, intimate and respectful relationship.
This book is also for people experiencing a rough patch and want to see a way out and get back on track, without needing to ‘air dirty laundry’.
And finally, this book is for single people who would like to know what caused their last relationship to fail. Or for singles who want to equip themselves with the tips and tricks that keep a relationship going.
We want relationships. We want closeness, trust, security and the certainty not to grow old alone.
We want to wake up loving our best-friend, partner and confidant more than we did the day before.
But in reality, more relationships than ever before are now ending prematurely because many have forgotten the fine art of making the other person feel special every single day.
This book gives you the insights into why people are separating and the huge influence that money has on your relationship.
You will find tips, techniques and tools that are needed for creating and maintaining lasting love.
Not sure whether this is the right gift for Valentine’s for your life partner and
yourself. You could try… 🙂
Please have a look at the table of contents here:
If you do not consciously take care of the things you cherish they decline in value.
You maintain your house, your car, your computer, your health, and your teeth because if you don’t, they lose their value.
If you do not look after your relationship it declines in value.
As you read this book, make some notes about the relationship you want. Then pass it on to your partner to read, ask him or her to make notes and, if you are able, make time to discuss your notes.
I know this tip might be challenging for you in case you find yourself in an unhealthy or toxic relationship. Still it could be a conversation started if this is the case. At some stage you would need to confront your partner anyway. Obviously, it is easier when you are in a good relationship where you can openly share ideas and goals.
You can order a signed copy from me now for only $34.99 (including shipping). https://www.inspiring-relationships.com.au/thebook/
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house with two households. My parents, my brother and I lived on the first floor, and my paternal grandmother and aunt lived on the ground floor.
As a kid you intuitively figure out who to turn to when you want to achieve certain things, and who to avoid when you want to stay out of trouble. In my house, my brother and I had four adults to obey. When my grandmother uttered a wish, we soon learnt that “some time” meant “now”.
“Please take the garbage out at some time?” meant that we had to jump to it, immediately!
It was a form of respect, and one that we carried forward in our lives.
We show respect to strangers, thanking the bus driver, or bending to pick up an article dropped by an older person. We are polite and courteous to our neighbours and colleagues at work.
Why then do we treat our partner differently?
When I speak about Respect in my seminars or workshops, I ask the audience for a good visual representation of the word respect. Every time they struggle to come up with one. Think for a moment and try it yourself. It is difficult, isn’t it?
We have emoticons and emojis on our phone to express excitement, joy, sadness, love and a host of other emotions, but nothing that represents respect.
Yet we all have an idea of what respect is. In our day-to-day lives, we show respect. We greet someone with a firm handshake, we give our seat to someone in need on the bus, and we hold the door open for the next person. We are aware of personal space and keep an appropriate distance from people to respect their privacy. We applaud someone for their achievements. We stand when the judge enters the courtroom.
So why is it that we lose the respect for our partner? We start to nudge them. We start to criticise and bicker. At home we start to behave like we want to, without giving our partner the respect they deserve.
I’ve seen this time and time again. Loving partners turn into jerks and treat each other like #$%@.
You claim to love each other. You share your life and live together, but you do not show respect for each other. How can that work?
Respect does not mean that you concur with everything the other person says or does. It does not mean you need to like everything your partner does. But is does mean that you acknowledge your partner as an individual in his or her own right.
Respect is more important than love in your relationship. When you lose respect, you also lose feelings of love.
Turn your focus to the respect you have for your partner and you will find that your relationship gains another dimension.
You can only give what you have yourself. You can only give a physical object to someone else, when you hold that object in your hand. The same is true for respect and love.
You need to respect yourself first to respect your spouse. You need to love yourself in order to love your spouse.
When you have true respect for yourself and show respect to your partner, you will never cheat on them, because first of all you cheat on yourself. You disrespect yourself when you have an affair, and it is hard to look yourself in the mirror if you do not respect yourself.
That’s why I say, respect is more important than love.
(This article is an excerpt of my new book “Why Money is more important than Sex”) You can purchase it here.
We have now collected over 901(!) different answers to our Relationship Performance Quiz (check it out here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/INSP07X if you haven’t done already).
This is a huge success and the insights are fascinating. Today, my plan isn’t to bore you with mathematics or statistics though. Did I just hear a sigh of relief? 🙂
See below a graph showing that most participants are living in a surviving or just functioning relationship…
Besides the score each participant receives, it is interesting and quite alarming at the same time to read all the questions that people ask me about relationships. And there is a large group of women asking the same thing…
“Why is he such hard work?” or “How could I get him to…” be more of this or less of that.
What I read here is the major frustration amongst women aimed at their partner. Sometimes it sounds like a question about a foreign species of (maybe wild) animals.
And what these questions really show is the deep disconnect between two people who are for better or worse in a long term relationship. There is a deep disconnect between the expectations of how the male partner should behave and the actual reality.
To make one thing very clear from the start: no one is at fault here.
All these women do not have false expectations and all these men don’t behave wrongly. There is a disconnect of expectations and reality and there is an even bigger disconnect between the two partners, because quite obviously they can’t talk to each other about this anymore – maybe they never did.
You know there are three pillars which are crucial for any relationship and these are Quality Time, Talking and Sex/Intimacy. In the beginning of your relationship you had all three. You spent wonderful times together at restaurants, at the beach or just holding hands in the cinema. And you talked. You talked a lot. You talked about everything. Sure enough, you had great sex too. Sometimes it felt as though you couldn’t keep your hands off each other.
Now fast forward this by five months or five years. The sex is probably less exciting. You talk less, because you feel everything has been said already. And you wonder why you should bother going out when you see each other every night and every morning.
Slowly the routine sets in and eventually turns into boredom.
This is where your two paths drift away from each other, and you eventually you find yourself growing apart. Suddenly your partner feels like a stranger and you think “Why is he such hard work?” or “How could I get him to…”
Let me make it very clear – You can’t change the behaviour of the other person. You can only change yourself.
Relationships are hard work. And with more than 25 years of happy marriage under my belt I can tell you it is daily work. But it is the relationship that demands the work, not the other person.
What you can do!
I highly recommend you create an Active Appointment for you and your spouse. An Active Appointment means that you consciously put a date and time into both your calendars for a night out. Leave your phone behind – if you can – and enjoy two, three or four hours away from home just in the company of your partner.
You don’t need to have an agenda – just let it unfold. In the beginning it might feel awkward because it has been so long since you’ve been out together – just the two of you. And it will be natural for the first twenty or thirty minutes for you to just talk about kids, money, work and the household.
Eventually you will come to things that are closer to your heart. What is stressing you right now? What is stressing your partner? Let the natural conversation return. Ask questions. Listen. Let the conversation flow, you used to be able to so easily, you know how to, you’ve just fallen in to the trap of not practicing this skill.
The trick here is to get out of your normal surroundings and also to leave distractions behind (eg. Phone, smart-watches, kids etc).
If you want to read even more about Active Appointments, please download my quick guide here.
Please remember that it takes two to make a relationship work. And both of you are equally responsible.
It is easy – and very human – to say: “if only the other person would be, do or have…” and thereby put your happiness and destiny into the hands of someone else.
Once you accept that it is your choice to be happy, that it is your choice to shape your relationship and that is your choice to change your own behaviour… Once you accept your responsibility you will see that your relationship can and will change.
I’m more than happy to help. Please contact me at email@example.com to discuss.