How to Get Your Partner to 'Open Up'
Communication problems happen in most relationships at one point or another, if not quite frequently. Often,
one partner is unwilling to open up when things are
difficult. Sadly, lack of open communication is destructive to relationships.
Perhaps you are involved with someone who gives you the silent treatment, or refuses to talk about the serious
issues in your relationship.
Rather than working through conflicts by talking them out, things inevitably get worse because he or she puts up
So, what do you do if you don't know how to get your partner to open up? No doubt you feel frustrated, perhaps
even exasperated and at your wits end when you feel like your efforts are futile.
Unfortunately, if you are like many people in your situation, even though you have good intentions you have been
going about it entirely wrong. Rather than getting the results you desire - i.e. your partner finally opening up to
you - he or she withdraws or clams up even more.
Before I tell you what does work, let's briefly look at what doesn't work...
* Nagging Rut - while no one wants to believe they are a nag, it's
easy to resort to nagging when you're dealing with a silent partner who won't communicate. Nagging very rarely
works, and when it does, it comes at a very high price. People who are nagged often have a lot of resentment toward
the person nagging them. If that is you, stop it now!
* Begging - begging and pleading is about as effective as nagging. It rarely works. Also, when you beg you
demean yourself and your partner is not going to respect you.
* Complaining or being critical - if you criticize your partner's unwillingness to talk or complain about it, he
or she will be even less likely to talk to you openly.
* Getting angry or upset - While you may be justified in your anger, or frustrated to the point of tears, your
partner needs to feel safe if he or she is going to open up. Anger and emotional outbursts hardly create a safe
environment for open communication in
* Making demands or pressuring - demanding that your partner open up or pressuring him or her will only increase
his or her resistance.
* Frequently interrupting - when you interrupt your partner you are giving the message that you don't really
value what he or she is saying.
* Giving ultimatums - You may feel like saying, "if this doesn't change, I'm leaving!". Again, you may feel
justified, but you're partner is not likely to suddenly open up in response to an ultimatum.
So, what does work?
* Be open and honest. Calmly but firmly let your partner know that you really value your relationship, but in
order for you to be the best partner possible, you need to know what he or she is feeling and thinking as well.
Let your partner know that you want it to be a two-way street and that you want to be as supportive as possible,
but you're at a loss if he or she doesn't communicate with you openly.
* Be patient. If you say something or ask your partner or question, give him or her adequate time to respond.
And don't keep talking while you wait. Some people choose their words carefully or struggle with what to say, and
may be slow to respond because they want it to come out right.
* Choose a proper time and place. If you are trying to get your partner to talk when he or she is stressed out,
needs to be somewhere soon, or tired or upset, it isn't a good time to talk.
Also, if there are other distractions such as screaming or noisy children, other people within earshot, or a
radio or TV on in the background, your partner may not feel he or she will be heard. Turn off the radio or TV and
make sure the two of you are alone if you want him or her to open up.
* When your partner talks, listen!! Many people are not good listeners. They interrupt or talk over the other
person, are reactive, or simply don't pay attention. If you want your partner to really open up, be sure you listen
well. Wait until he or she is finished before you jump in with questions or responses.
Really listening shows your partner respect, and gives the message that you genuinely want to hear what he or
she has to say.
It may take time for your partner to open up, but following these guidelines will increase the likeliness that
he or she will in time.
Probably the #1 gripe that people have about their spouses is that they "just won't listen". To stop your
partner from clamming up every time you need to talk, I highly recommend that you check out Relationship
It's a fantastic guide to dealing with many aspects of your relationship, and has a strong focus on
communication issues. Go ahead and check it out now. You'll find it here:
Learning how to increase the flow of communication in your relationship can take some practice. Just keep
working at it, listen to your partner and try to be open and honest. The more you try, the better you will both get
For more on this topic, check out: