Just Ask Fewer Questions?

So, it occurs to me that my communication style is to ask lots of questions.  I do that for a couple of reasons, the two primary ones being:

1.  As an introvert, I tend to ask more questions, and so talk less, and listen more.

2.  As someone in the helping profession, my training has been to practice "active" listening, which includes asking "clarifying questions" in order to make sure I understand what the other is saying and/or feeling.

A lot of my frustration comes from the difficulty I have in getting my wife to answer the questions I ask during conversations.  Sometimes it feels like pulling teeth!

My wife, on the other hand, asks very few questions during a conversation.

So, it ALSO occurs to me that perhaps if I ask fewer questions I'll be less frustrated.  I'm not sure how hard or easy that would be.

Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

Miss Behaven's picture

Not so much how many but how much time

Someone with ADD takes longer to process information and to work out a response.

Often we have little routines we need to go through to figure things out, like my bedtime routine to figure out when I must wake. Or how I must count my money before leaving the house and again in my car in the parking lot before I can go grocery shopping.

Often one question causes several slightly related questions to rush through our heads and it takes a while to work through the mess. In my family with call it alphagetthi soup. Like the children's soup with letter shaped pasta. Because it is like having a spoonful of that pasta but only wanting one letter.

Rapid fire questions, one after the other, is confusing. Its like trying to shovel a spoonful of the pasta in your mouth before you swallowed the last one, let alone found the on letter shaped piece of pasta you were looking for. It overwhelms.

Asking the same question over again with slight variation turns into an interrogation. Like in those old movies with the bright light shining in your face and several cops all shouting at you. Suddenly, you can think at all. Your mouth is so full of pasta you can't even swallow any more and start to choke.

You just want to run away.
 

Sometimes you have to plant a seed. Sometimes you have to accept the fact that you won't get the information you want immediately. We need to think about it, sometimes in a certain way.

"What time are you getting up tomorrow?"

"I don't know"

"Okay, when you figure it out let me know. Or I will ask again right before bed."

 

or

"What time are you getting up tomorrow?"

"I don't know"

"Shall we work it out together? Or can I ask again before bed?"

That helps for answers of "I don't know," but

1.  What about when I get an answer, but it is not to the question I asked?  Such as, after her spending time talking about some work issues she had previously told me about, that she had intended to ask her boss to meet with her to talk about:

Me:  Did you ask your boss if he would meet with you?

Her:  My coworker has the same problem with him.

Me:  Yes, but did you ask him to meet with you so you could talk about it?

Her:  Hes doesn't have time to meet with me.

Me:  So you asked, and he said no?

Her (perhaps after more of this going in circles):  No, I didn't ask him yet.

In the above case, I have no vested interest in whether she meets with him or not.  I am merely talking with her about her work and trying to understand what she is talking about.  I often end up asking questions just to get clarity on what she is talking about, and getting that clarity can be very difficult!

Then there are examples of when I do need information from her, and it's hard getting answers.

For example:

2.  What about when I need specific information, and her answer is less specific than I was looking for?  Such as:

Me:  How much soda do I need to get?

Her:  We're really low.

Me:  But how much do you think we need?

Her (because John is coming over):  John drinks a lot of soda.

Me:  So should I get one case or two?

Her (perhaps after more going in circles):  I think we need two.

3.  What about when her answer has nothing to do with what I asked?  Such as:

Me:  Do you want to go out with Mary and Bob this weekend?

Her:  We haven't seen Angela in a long time.  I should call her.

Me:  You should.  But, would you like to get together with Mary and Bob this weekend?

Her:  I really miss Angela.  I can't believe it's been so long.

Me:  I know.  I miss her too.  But what about this weekend?

Her:  Whatever you want to do.

Me (now addressing a different matter):  But I want to know what YOU want to do. 

Her (eventually, I hope):  Sure.  Why don't you call them.

 

I could go on and on and on . . . .

And I realize that much of my frustration in conversations with my wife (and probably hers as well, as she senses my frustration), comes from me asking lots and lots of questions to which I have difficulty getting answers.  Sometimes just to understand what she is talking about.  Sometimes to understand what she feels about something.  Sometimes to get information I need in order to take some action.  And sometimes, just making "mindless" chit-chat.
 

arwen's picture

not the question i asked

Hoping, I have had this problem with my ADHD spouse a lot. We've had some real barn-burner fights over this problem!

For us, what has worked best is to *interrupt* the going-in-circles process before starting again with the original question. To piggyback on your example, the dialog would go something like:

      Me: Did you ask your boss if he would meet with you?

      Him: My coworker has the same problem with him.
      [Conversation obviously going off-track here, so I want to
      steer it back on track
]

      Me: OK, that's good to know [acknowledging the answer --
      otherwise, single-mindedly, he'll keep trying to get me to
      respond to it
]. But I didn't ask about whether anybody else
      had a problem. [attempt to identify disconnect between
      questions and answer -- sometimes it works -- if nothing
      else, it introduces the idea that possibly we are not on the
      same wavelength, which is sometimes useful
] What I wanted
      to know was whether you asked your boss if he would meet
      with you. [trying to reboot the conversation at its start -- again,
      sometimes this alone does the trick]

      Him: He doesn't have time to meet with me. [This sounds
      like maybe they had a conversation, so maybe we're getting
      closer to the answer I'm looking for, it's worth pursuing on
      its merits.
]

      Me: Did he actually say that to you? [note: not sounding
      like I'm questioning his truthfulness! -- sounding like I'm
      horrified that a boss would say such a thing
]

      Him: Well, not exactly.

      Me: OK. Honey. [here's the interrupt:] We're not on the
      same wavelength here. I'm asking one question, and you seem
      to be answering some other question that I haven't asked.
      So, please listen to me? carefully? [said as nicely and
      gently as possible -- then may pause a briefly to make sure
      I actually do have his full attention
] The question I
      asked, the thing I wanted to know is, [tiny pause, then
      speaking *very* slightly more clearly than normal
] did you
      ask your boss to meet with you? 

This almost always produces the answer I am looking for, and he almost never gets annoyed -- perhaps a few seconds of mild irritation occasionally, but then it's gone and we're out of the circles and moving forward again in the conversation.

Some of your other examples sound more like a problem with indecision to me -- because of their memory issues, folks with ADHD have a much harder time typically with evaluating situations (even if they do remember all the salient factors, they can never be sure that they have!), so many develop a coping mechanism of feeding more data to someone who *is* good at evaluating, rather than make an evaluation themselves.

Hope this helps!

 

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be." Albus Dumbledore

Great Advice (again!)

Thanks, Arwen.  I see what you are saying.  I will attempt to try it next time this happens with my wife.  I'll let you know how it goes.

So - no great ideas about the examples about indecision?  I see now that they ARE different than the first example.  And they are ALSO quite frequently occur. 

And it's true, when I am asking my wife to tell me her preference she is often reluctant to tell me.  And I find I am in a sort of catch 22.

She tells me I am controlling, which I do NOT want to be.  And yet, she GIVES me control of decisions I am trying to get HER to make, or at least participate in.  And because I am SUCH a decisive person, and because these kinds of conversations, where I attempt to get her to participate in a decision, seem so fruitless, I end up making those decisions whether I want to or not. 

Because decisions about what to get at the store, when to do some chore or other, etc., must be made.

And decisions about doing things socially, must be made if we are going to do anything other that sit around the house all day.

I've started just making plans without consulting her, and then saying "I made plans with so and so on Friday.  I hope you can join us."  Sometimes she does.  Sometimes she doesn't.

By the way - I have brought this issue up with my wife - the she GIVES me control by not making decisions and then criticizes me for BEING controlling.  And I have asked if SHE has any ideas about how we might do things differently - but so far she doesn't have any either.

arwen's picture

decisions, decisions

Again, my husband and I used to have a lot of problems in fights in this area.  Looking back, I have to laugh, because the explanation turned out to be simultaneously so simple from his perspective and so off-the-wall from mine.

I obviously can't say whether your situation is exactly the same as ours, but what I came to understand in our case was that I *wasn't* being given *control* -- I was being given an opportunity to correctly guess the decision that he wanted but couldn't find on his own.  For us, this issue over "control of decisions" was actually an extension of the issue of his expecting me to know what was going on in his mind without communication.  My spouse has always, unconsciously, seen me as a sort of extension of himself -- this is one of his key "boundary" problems, that many ADHDers actually have -- so of course, I must already know *his* decision, and my job was simply to identify it for him.  So every time I'd come up with the "wrong" decision, he unconsciously thought of me as some sort of malfunctioning computer that couldn't produce the correct answer from his program inputs -- which would irritate anybody.  On the other hand, if I came up with a decision that was not *obviously* wrong, he would cheerfully agree with it at the time -- it *sounded* OK -- but when push came to shove, he'd repudiate it.  On the rare occasions when he knew that I was propounding was not what he wanted, but he couldn't figure out why it didn't suit him, my persistence in trying to reach a decision made him feel pressured, and he interpreted that as me wanting control (rather than just me wanting to get past a sticking point and move forward).  Of course, he wasn't *aware* that this was his mental process, or that there was any problem with it.

I can't tell you exactly how we solved the problem.  I can tell you that once I understood what was really going on, I  worked very hard to explain, and somehow managed to convey to my husband, that

  • I didn't want control of the decisions, and I didn't want quick decisions that would be later repudiated, I wanted to find mutually agreeable decisions that we could stick to
  • I can't possibly know what his decision might really be, unless he chooses to communicate all the parameters -- and it's not really possible for him to communicate all the parameters because a lot of times he's not aware of them himself -- so I can't just automatically know what he wants
  • I can *help* him figure out what he wants if he does communicate whatever parameters he can think of and I can then offer suggestions about what his preference might be -- but that he must not take that as my agreeing to his decision -- my help is a separate process from the process of then negotiating and reaching a mutual decision
  • I was willing to take all the time he needed, in order to come up with a real decision that he could be comfortable with both for now and for the future.

But I'm quite certain that my husband also changed something in his way of thinking about decisions and dealing with this issue.  And I'm sorry, but I don't really have any idea what that change was.  On the other hand, I'm sure that change wouldn't have come about without my having made the points above to him, earnestly and repeatedly.

As I said, I don't know whether this same kind of issue underlies the indecision you experience with your spouse.  Your partner's indecision issues may be of a totally different nature than my husband's.  But as I say so often, if nothing else, maybe this will spark an idea about your situation that will lead to something better.

 

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

Extension

Hm, this is an interesting and quite helpful post, thanks for that!

The thing about being an extension of him reminds me of a little scene we had yesterday. He had to stay home from work because something important had come up; in the early morning, though, I had asked him if he'd go, suggesting that he should. When he decided not to, he started this argument with me, persuading me that he HAD to go. But he did all the arguing himself, I didn't actually participate in the argument, just said "yes, sure", and I never actually got the message through that I was fine with him staying home. In the end, he calmed down and later said how he felt really bad about staying home. It was quite clear that he had been using me as some sort of alter ego. It didn't really upset me, it jsut served as a reminder of something I have seen quite a few times: that he gets quite upset about things and yells about them, but if I leave him alone he will just sort it and come to a sensible conclusion.

mg

We've had this issues too

Not so much that he considered me controlling (though I probably was a bit and he just liked it) but that he would abdicate participating in decisions.  Then anytime he cared about what a decision needed to be, he seemed to think that since I made *so many* of the decisions, we should automatically do what he wanted since "it was his turn."

This is one of those insidious issues we've had because though we could come to a quick verbal agreement that this was unfair, that did nothing to dig the idea out of his head that this is what he wanted.  My husband is a creature of what he wants at least 10 times more than what he agrees to logically.  It definitely wasn't solved with only 1 conversation, but I do not recall it being too difficult to get through to him because he really did understand it was unfair.  He just spent some time beyond that realization still pushing for it because he wanted it so badly to be that easy.   Who wouldn't want to get their way every time they actually cared about a decision??  Sounds good to me too, but unrealistic in a family!

Any reasonable person knows that deciding on the grocery list or where we go out to eat (because he doesn't care/can't be bothered) is not equal to him making a big decision without feedback from me because I *get* to make the other decisions.  I told him I do not *get* to make the other decisions since a lot of them I am forced into making because he doesn't want to.  It is true that what we eat when we go out is generally MUCH more important to me than to him.   Plus I often have trouble finding something to order whereas he is laid back and doesn't really care what he eats, so he can find something anywhere. 

We resolve this in that since I pick most of the time, but when he really does care about where we go, we go where he wants.   That to me is an apples to apples concession.   We roughly take turns deciding what we do for date night too though sometimes I will veto his movie choice if I just can't stand the idea of sitting through The A-Team on that particular night--to take an example that came up in the last few months LOL  He also has veto choice over a movie I want to see, but honestly he loves all movies and if he can snuggle up in the theater or home on the couch, he'll mostly sit through any movie.

He does not get to choose our next vehicle because I generally decide on the grocery list or some other apples to oranges decision.  

Also, we had several conversations about how I don't WANT to be the decider of everything ESPECIALLY if it is going to get me resentment instead of gratitude for saving him from bother he doesn't want.  Sometimes I don't care if it matters to him or not, I need to have a participant in the decision making.  He got that, and for the most part participates fairly well now.

The "real" issue

As I read my post it sounds like my main issue is that my wife doesn't answer questions I ask.  And that is true. 

It is frustrating that I often can't get input from her on decisions or that I often can't get information I need to take an action.

But sometimes, it really isn't even a matter of getting her to answer a question.  Sometimes it is only about just connecting with her through conversation.

I haven't seemed to be able to articulate that issue very well.

What I mean is, I think of a conversation where one or more people are participating is about one person saying something, then the next person saying something in response that is somehow related to what was just said, then the next person saying something in response that is somehow related to what was said, etc.

By somehow related, I mean several things:

- adding to or expanding upon what was just expressed, like "I know what you mean. That happened to me too, when . . ."

- answering a question that was just asked

- "reflecting" or restating what was just expressed, like "so you told her you had to leave."

- commenting on what was just expressed, such as saying something like "that sounds terrible!" or even just "really?"

- asking a question about what was expressed, such as "Did he sound angry when he said that?"

- asking for more information "And then what did you do?"

- or even changing topics, acknowledging that you are doing so, as in "On another note . . . ."

I'm sure there are more, but I can't think of them right now.

I rarely have conversations like this with my wife.  I am sure this is because my brain works differently than hers.  My logic is different than hers.  So, the logical flow I am seeking in conversations just doesn't seem to occur with her.  I'm thinking that probably her responses are related in some way according to HER way of thinking.  But they don't feel related according to the way I think.

The problem is that the result is that conversations feel very disjointed to me.  They are all over the place.  I am sure that is because my wife's train of thought is all over the place.  Or rather, that she is Grand Central Station and there are LOTS of trains on her tracks at one time.  And they are all probably like those trains in Europe that travel really, really fast.

Whereas my thoughts are in one train at a time.

I know it's not personal.  I know it's not that she isn't interested.  I know that it's not that she doesn't love me or doesn't care.

BUT - if I need to feel connected in conversation in order to feel connected to my wife, I am wondering if there is anything I can do so that I feel more connected?

One thing I have thought of is to use more reflective type statements and and less questions.  But even that is difficult.  If I attempt to reflect back to her in different words, it somehow changes one little nuance of what she said and she will then disagree with what I said.  Then she "corrects" me by restating what I just said in a way that sounds the same to me!  (I often find myself feeling a little confused and saying "Didn't I just SAY that?")

So, short of simply repeating back to her verbatim what she says to me - does anyone have any suggestions about how I might engage in conversation with my wife in a way that feels connected?

(I'm guessing someone is going to say something like "Can't you just be happy and feel connected because your wife is talking with you and leave it at that?  Why does the conversation have to go the way YOU want it to go?"  If you feel like asking me that, you are missing my point.)

Miss Behaven's picture

The Missing Parts

The missing pieces are in italics

 

Me: How much soda do I need to get?

Her: Let me think about this ... We're really low.

Me: But how much do you think we need?

Her (because John is coming over): John drinks a lot of soda ... hmmm I'm still working this out ... how do I estimate how much soda someone else might drink?

Me: So should I get one case or two?

Her (perhaps after more going in circles): Ah! A suggestion, yes I can work with that, I was caught in trying to guess how soda we and John might drink! ... I think we need two.

 

3. What about when her answer has nothing to do with what I asked? Such as:

Me: Do you want to go out with Mary and Bob this weekend?

Her: That reminds me ... We haven't seen Angela in a long time. I should call her.

Me: You should. But, would you like to get together with Mary and Bob this weekend?

Her: Sorry my brain is caught up in thinking about Angela, I need a second to express the emotion that has just taken over most of my brain ... I really miss Angela. I can't believe it's been so long.

Me: I know. I miss her too. But what about this weekend?

Her: Oh, I don't know. This weekend is so far away and you're better at planning than me. Three days from now is distant and fuzzy and i might decided on the day I feel differently. But you want to plan, so you plan ... Whatever you want to do.

Me (now addressing a different matter): But I want to know what YOU want to do.

Her (eventually, I hope): Ugh, I don't know what I might want to do three days from now! I have a hard enough time deciding what I want to do now! Oh man. Uhhhhhhhh Yeah they're nice enough people ...  Sure. Why don't you call them.

 

My sister once asked me why I never say things like:

- adding to or expanding upon what was just expressed, like "I know what you mean. That happened to me too, when . . ."

- answering a question that was just asked

- "reflecting" or restating what was just expressed, like "so you told her you had to leave."

- commenting on what was just expressed, such as saying something like "that sounds terrible!" or even just "really?"

- asking a question about what was expressed, such as "Did he sound angry when he said that?"

- asking for more information "And then what did you do?"

- or even changing topics, acknowledging that you are doing so, as in "On another note . . . ."

 

And I said why bracket the information with useless niceties? Too much effort!

The ADD brain skips A and goes straight to B and C (then gets lost on the way to D thinking about E and F)

Also everything and I mean EVERYTHING is connected in the ADD brain. There's no such thing as separation. This seems especially strong amongst ADD women. If someone says "my cat got run over", I find myself thinking about every cat I have ever known while they stand there waiting for their condolences.

Meds and therapy can help improve her conversation styling.

I'm really not sure what to tell you what you can do. I ask hubby to "fill in the blanks" sometimes but both of us having ADD we kind of aren't bothered by these things, nor place so much importance upon them.

Awesome Post, Miss B

Thanks for filling in the missing parts.  That really helps me see what's going on.  I learn much better when I get an example like that. 

I also want to reiterate what I know has been said several times:  I am so very glad you participate in this blog because you have a way of responding with examples that really help me understand how people with ADD experience things differently than I do.  Thank you!!

So, after reading your response, it occurs to me: we all have thoughts come into our heads that we don't express when we are in conversations with someone.  Instead, we filter our thoughts in order to determine what to say and what not to say.

We filter our thoughts for all kinds of reasons: 

- because they might be inappropriate to utter, like "I can't believe this jerk".

- because they are extraneous, like "Man, it's hot in here."

- because they are something we are supposed to hold in confidence

- because they are something we know the other person might not be interested in

- because they are something that we know might be over the other person's head

- etc.

The difference is, because people who are nonADD, like myself, probably just have a couple of thoughts at a time that they need to filter through, it's much easier to pick the most germane (and perhaps appropriate) thought, to actually utter aloud.

But those with ADD, like my wife, have many, many more thoughts "popping" into their heads, at a much quicker rate, and many, many more which are farther afield, since their thoughts shoot off in several different directions.  And so, it's much, much harder for them to pick a response to say that is closely related to what was just uttered.  That's why they are more likely to say something that might be "inappropriate."  And that's also why it often takes longer to even get a response at all.

Do I have this right?

PS  Why is that baby still in you, Miss B??  Maybe it's time to start scrubbing some floors.  LOL

The connection

you mention reminds me of when I had my second child. This has me thinking. I did not have that feeling with my firstborn daughter, and I thought she was more like her ADD dad. She certainly grew up to have his "personality" and later was diagnosed as bi-polar though, I'm thinking ADD. But when my son was born, it was different. I could sense our connection then, and still do. Others noticed it between us as well.

Now, all these feelings I had were long before my husband was diagnosed with ADD. When we learned about ADD, I read whatever I could to help me understand what was going on. I remember reading somewhere that when speaking to a person with ADD, you don't have the sense that you're getting through to them or, they are not absorbing what you're saying. (It is an internal sense that I have, I don't know how else to describe it.) Now, oddly enough I realized that I sense some connection when my ADD SO is drinking alcohol, and he can easily drink large amounts with what seems like little effect. Since he has started on his medication, the sense I feel is again different.

That initial sense of connection I had with my kids and probably my husband (in hyperfocus and later) is real. My daughter and I are rarely on the same page and I can't see things changing with my husband. That sense is just not there. I feel the connection with my son, who has struggled with a bit of depression but not ADD. We share questions and answers simply and complete tasks for one another without any discord. I understand that it is common when considering gender differences for moms to get along with their sons better than their daughters but, I still feel this sense or intuition (?) that I am connecting with him.

Maybe that sense is similar to finding each other in a public space. If my son and I drift apart, I can look around and find him, stare at him and our eyes will meet. That doesn't work with my husband. A sense or feeling of connection would increase my sense of closeness to my husband and my daughter but, I'm actually not "sensing" it and I don't know if I ever will. Is that the feeling you're looking for?

sense of connection

Clarity,

I know exactly what you are talking about.  I have 2 sons & 2 daughters. One son and daughter can finish my sentences. they are easy for me to communicate with and we are almost always on the same page.  The other son and daughter I do not connect easily with and I don't know why.  There is no ADD in my family. 

One of the things that still draws me to my exBF who I still consider friend is this soul connection we have when we have intimate conversations.  We can look into each others eyes and it is emotionally intense for me.  We've often talked about how our entire expression changes during our interactions.  I never noticed this on a conscious level with other people, but when it happens with him I am just amazed.  He sees it in me too.  It is like the little nuances in a person's expression that we subconsciously "see" are visible at a conscious level and we can talk about it.  The changes are dramatic not small differences. I never had this connection with my ex-nonadd husband.  But on the other hand, sometimes my exBF can seem very disconnected under normal circumstances of life. 

I wish I understood how these emotional connections occur with some and not so strongly with others. 

Brenda

that's interesting, Brenda

There's no ADD in your family? I guess we all connect at different levels somehow. I'm wondering if it's emotional, spiritual, soulish, and how ADD influences that connection. There was a great connection between my ADD hubby in the beginning but, now it's like that was a completely different person. I remember how I felt a change in him after we married and things have never been the same again. 

Clarity that's right

Clarity,

Before I met my exADD bf I knew one thing about ADD--kids took ritalin to help them sit still in school.  Neither my exhusband, myself or any of my children have ADD.  I began my search to understand ADD in November 2008 after trying to figure out why this new BF was a really good person, but displayed some not so good behaviors. Just didn't make any sense at all. 

Well, after reading 60 books, and spending a lot of time on here and other websites, I feel a deep compassion for what the ADDer and nonAdder experience.  It is a deeply intricate problem for everyone involved.  I still care for this man who came into my life and taught me to never again assume that outward behavior is nothing more than bad character.  it bothers me a great deal because he suffers mainly because he cannot afford the care he needs. 

He is one of the most courageous people I have ever met.  He's lived his entire life not knowing what made him different and rejected.  I do not know how someone lives in the kind of pain he experiences.  How confusing it must have been all these years, not understanding social cues or norms and unable to interact as a "normal", criticized for failing to meet expectations that he didn't even understand. 

But I also know that ADD had effect on everyone that came into his life and no one knew what they were dealing with. Some held their boundaries, some separated, and some just accepted him the way he was.  His inattention and impulsivity must have caused many, many problems for his family.  He often speaks well of his exwife--she was a wonderful wife and mother, but she ended the marriage.  The spouses on here have taught me why.  I really appreciate everything people share here to help me understand better.  Every time I get a chance to educate anyone about ADD I do so.  There are so many people out there who suffer or know someone who does.

So even though I never married ADD or had children with it, I was impacted by the hyperfocus and following inattention.  I was devastated.  We are still in long distance contact and I still care about him. I don't know what the future holds.  I merely wait to see what will happen.  

Brenda     

Thanks Brenda

I appreciate your input. I've never really thought that my ADD hubby may be in any pain, he does not act like it and he's not one to share his true self. I have to wonder if he understands who that is? I would think that connection also depends on the perspective and attitude we take with one another. I would not be surprised if the number of people affected by ADD is larger than we all expect. Seems that knowledge about adult ADD has not yet reached the masses unless you're a comedian. It's really not funny. You're certainly right about the deeply intricate problems for all involved, the challenge has been more than I think I can take at times but I'm still here hoping that someday things will get better for all of us!

Would your wife be open to

Would your wife be open to 'non-verbal communication' such as cuddling in bed/on the couch watching TV? I am thinking maybe setting up a situation where you're feeling "connected" but not having to use words, something that apparently doesn't come easy to your wife, might create a different attitude in her. Maybe doing this often enough would create a sense of 'security' in her that maybe she would start to open up a bit more. This way you're saying "I really enjoy spending time connecting with you, and I care enough about you to do it in a way that is easier for you"

You two are just different. Everything, if both parties are willing, can be worked out with compromise. Maybe change in communication with your wife could start with you admitting that you need to change your approach. I only say that because with any situation it always takes two. Her indecisiveness and your need for details, if I'm understanding correctly, is strangling your communication. Even if she remains indecisive, you are going to have to stop insisting she give you something that she most likely does not have to give. Drop the conversation, take a deep breath, put your own feelings aside, think about how she might be feeling, and try and let it go. Hopefully, if you do this enough, show her that you're trying to understand her and appreciate her differences, then she'll start to feel more comfortable sharing things with you.

Thought about this topic yesterday

We came home from church and decided, since our daughter was with my sister, that we would just lay in bed all day and watch TV. We cuddle and watch TV for a while and he says "I appreciate you just laying here with me, you don't know how much stress you take off of me just laying here with me watching TV". We weren't talking much, just watching TV. As the day wore on, he switched gears and said that he felt like I didn't want to talk to him. I told him that I wasn't talking because I was just watching TV with him and that I know he doesn't like to talk while watching TV. (the one thing that is always sure to irritate him). He somehow appreciated my silence at first but at some point he took it as me not enjoying being with him. He even went so far as to say I didn't want to be with him and that I don't love him. I learned long ago not to blow him off when he says these things, although it seems to come out of left field and seems bizarre to me, so I just reassure him the best I can and that usually works. I really don't understand how he switches gears so easily. From my perspective, I was perfectly happy laying with him, watching TV, napping on his chest, etc...and how he got the idea from that in his head that I don't love him is something I suppose I will never understand.

He NEEDS a lot of attention a lot of the time. I feel like I struggle to keep up with his needs and moods..even when I feel I'm doing nothing wrong or nothing to give him the impressions he gets. Thankfully, as I said, a little reassurance goes a long way...most of the time. It just reminded me of this topic and how there may really be no 'right or wrong' answers for every situation, you think you're doing the right thing by not talking much and ends up maybe you're not.

Miss Behaven's picture

Did you tell him you were

Did you tell him you were happy to be laying there watching tv with him when he expressed his happiness?  I know if I say to someone that I am very happy right now and they don't say anything or don't say they are happy as well I start to get anxiety.

Maybe they are just being polite? Maybe they really don't want to be here? Maybe they feel trapped because I said I am happy right now? Maybe the they want to do something else? They usually like to talk, but their not? WHY? Do they feel they can't talk because of what I said?

It goes on and on like that until I've built it up in my mind and start asking things like "Are you happy? You're miserable aren't you? Do you hate here. Do you love love me? Why don't you love me?"

Yes, absolutely! I never let

Yes, absolutely! I never let a comment like that go unrequited. I told him that I really enjoyed laying with him and cuddling with him. Trust me, I am ALL OVER the 'little things' because I have learned through the years that is what he NEEDS from me...and I am happy to give it.

Apparently he has that 'dialogue' in his head too...sometimes no matter what I say, he is convinced that I don't love him. I can be next to him, holding his hand smiling, and he'll say "do you want me to leave? do you not love me?" and I'm left wondering where the hell that came from. I just reassure him until I feel he's OK. It isn't horrible, just makes me feel bad for him.