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krose1223's avatar

How should I respond when I feel like I am talking to a wall?

Asked by krose1223 (3254points) May 23rd, 2010

This only happens on the phone and unfortunately I have to talk on the phone with my husband a lot because he is in the military and we are separated sometimes for months at a time. I love him to pieces and I know he is a quiet guy and I have absolutely no problem with that. However, I hate talking on the phone as it is because it makes me feel how far we are from each other, but then to have this problems only makes things worse. It’s not an actual problem in our relationship but it does drive me crazy. I just don’t know how to react when I tell him about my day and I don’t even get so much as a grunt. I know I am not saying anything very important most of the time but I just feel like I am talking to myself when he is on the phone. In person it doesn’t bother me. In person we talk all night long and don’t even realize until the sun comes up.

I try not to get mad but I do. How am I supposed to react to this? I am trying to have some positive self talk but I have run out of positive.

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24 Answers

frdelrosario's avatar

It’s seen in the way you wrote the question that succinctness is not your strong suit. I kinda tuned you out myself there.

Make your point, let someone else talk.

dpworkin's avatar

Before you get mad, I suggest that you quietly explain to him what you are experiencing. He may just be too overwhelmed to reply right now, but is still enoying hearing you speak.

Tomfafa's avatar

Nobody talks on the phone anymore (soooo passe) Try texting… he might loosen up if he is having an indirect conversation and has more time to think up a response.

krose1223's avatar

@frdelrosario- See, the thing is my husband knew what he was getting himself into when he married me. I will be the first to tell you I talk a lot. He loves me for me and my chattiness and we are a nice balance for each other. He just doesn’t talk a lot and I know that, all I was asking for was some positive things to think instead of negative. What you gave me was not positive.

@dpworkin Thank you. :) And he I have. He usually just laughs at me and says just that… He likes listening but sometimes I want to listen to. I’ve asked him for some sort of response, even if it’s a grunt…

@Tomfafa I really don’t like texting. Like I said talking on the phone sucks to me because it is so impersonal. I do better communicating by only letters than I do talking on the phone every day. Handwritten letters or even e-mails to me are sooooo much better. And we do all three when we can.

jerv's avatar

I am with @frdelrosario onthis one. If things start to drag on and/or go in circles, pretty much anybody with a Y-chromosome will tune out as our eyes glaze over.

It’s a simple and proven fact that women are generally more talkative while guys are direct and to-the-point. This goes double for guys in the military; why use a phrase when an acronym will suffice? If we talk for a while then it’s because we have multiple points to make. If we talk in circles, it’s because we are drunk off our ass and ready to fall down; we don’t do that stuff when sober.

mrentropy's avatar

When you’re together does he talk or does he usually respond with body language? I’ve found myself responding to people on the phone with head nods (“Hello? I can’t hear your brain rattling through the phone!”) or shrugs.

Tomfafa's avatar

@krose1223 You sound so old fashioned… I bet you still think your husband must in the same room with you in order to have sex!

Jeruba's avatar

Can you prompt him, without anger, without irritation in your voice? maybe very lightly and with a touch of humor? Can you pause and then say, “Okay, honey, here’s where you’re supposed to say ‘That sounds like fun’” (or ‘I’m glad you had a good time’ or ‘What a bummer’ or whatever the appropriate response would be at that point)? That is, coach him a little, rehearse him, give him a clue what you’re expecting? —Not too often, but maybe once or at most twice per conversation?

Even if he just parrots what you said, it’s something, and in time he might get the idea. This could take years. Be patient.

krose1223's avatar

@mrentropy Ha. He might be doing something like that… He definitely talks a lot more in person. We both really just don’t like talking on the phone and when I asked this question I was kinda heated. (Which gives reason to my long explanation)

@Tomfafa… Maybe I am. But so is he. :) And trust me, I can have sex all my myself. You did get the part where he is gone a lot right?

Tomfafa's avatar

@krose1223 Welllllllll….... you seem nice….... but I don’t trust you. Prove it! A nice video clip to my e-mail…

rebbel's avatar

I don’t know how much (every day, every other day?) you two are on the phone, but if it is that frequently as i asked, i would say to drop it a bit to, let’s say, every other two days.
It could be you’ll find that you have more substantial to say then (there is likely to happen more in three days then there is in one day) and also you (both) could be longing for it more then.
Just try that for a week or two if you think it’s an idea.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Have the two of you tried using video chat? My husband is deployed right now and we talk via yahoo instant messenger a lot. Sometimes we type and other times we’ll use their voice chat. We also use the webcams to see each other. It sucks when there is a lag in the video, but they you can see the smiles and head nods that you can’t hear over the phone.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Write him letters! He’ll appreciate them more—even the mundane day-to-day stuff that sounds so boring to you to say—because he can read them over and over, because he won’t have to feel a need to respond ‘this minute’, and perhaps most of all because he can read them (and respond to them) at times that are only attuned to his own schedule. I suspect, from having worked overtime construction jobs away from my family (and those only in the US), and then later working weeks at a time in Europe, that trying to match your schedule (to be on the phone with you) is enough of a drain for him.

If you don’t like writing letters, then record your thoughts onto a medium that he can play back easily (audio CDs? DVDs? plain old cassette tapes?) and send those to him… and send photos, too. Or—yeah, this is the 21st century, isn’t it? Just email all of that to him. (But I’ll bet he’d appreciate pen and ink letters and printed photos best of all.)

marinelife's avatar

Does he have a laptop? You could get him a microphone/camera and get yourself one and talk using skype face-to-face.

ChocolateReigns's avatar

I was just about to say Skype. Jynx you marinelife, you owe me a coke.

zenele's avatar

In communication 101 it says: “When talking to a wall, use a sledgehammer.’’

eden2eve's avatar

How about asking a question… “Honey, do you think that was a wise thing for me to do?” or…. “How would you handle this problem?” Maybe he’d feel as if his opinion was very important to you and become more emotionally involved in the conversation.

Pandora's avatar

I know people like that and when begin to be silent than I tell them I have to go because I feel like I’m talking to myself. They eventually learn that the polite thing to do is either respond and make it a two way conversation or don’t call me at all.
However, I have to ask, do you ever ask him leading questions in your conversations? Make sure they aren’t questions that require a simple yes or no. An example would be, What is your favorite color and why? Instead of what is your favorite color?
He simply may not know how to properly ask a question or he may feel the phone is just too impersonal and feels homesick. I know when my husband was overseas he appreciated recieving letters from home far more. He said it made things difficult to talk on the phone since there was so much he wasn’t allowed to say cause calls where always monitered and he liked for our private lives to remain private.

Siren's avatar

I’ve had the same experience living long distance from my spouse. The problem is, every day, talking for hours, you’ve probably covered the same ground before and are up to date on his day, and he is on yours.

You want to be close, and the only way to do that is to stay on the phone, but you don’t have anything left to talk about, and he probably has even less. It’s probably stressful for him too, to come up with things to say to you. He may even feel like he is being boring to you, but can’t think of anything to say.

Like @rebbel suggested, maybe cutting down on the frequency will give you both more time to have something to talk about.

rebbel's avatar

I laughed a bit at this: “Maybe he’d feel as if his opinion was very important to you…”
As if….

Siren's avatar

Or duration. Maybe a 10 minute or less call each day unless there’s something new to discuss.

Silhouette's avatar

I agree with CyanoticWasp letters are great. My husband and I exchange letters when we are separated. We used to call each other every night and found we payed a pretty big long distance bill just to say good night, I love you. Lots of dead air or boring day to day details. ‘Yes, I went to the bank, the kids are fine, I got the lawn mower back from the shop and it’s still broken.’ Now we send off a letter after a few days, we throw in a little naughty talk, that we wouldn’t normally share over the phone.

krose1223's avatar

@ all We do write letters and it helps me a lot!! I like being able to wind down writing a letter to him. He doesn’t have a computer to use skype, but it is something we have talked about doing. I don’t mind that he can’t talk, because like some of you said there isn’t much for him to say on his end. He can’t tell me anything about his job really and his life is his job when he is away. I just want a response when I say something and you guys all really helped! You gave great advice and I am definitely going to try all these new tricks. :) Thank you so much I feel better about it already.

Marodr13's avatar

I feel that relationships are all about communication and it seems that you have that.. One thing that you seem to forget is the fact that he is dealing with another life (military) and anyone that is involved in that can tell you that when you are deployed you have alot on your mind…
Personally i understand that importance of family and being able to talk about it, but are you serious?? Are you not worried about the fact that he is not in your presence?? I feel you have nothing to worry about because like you mentioned when he is at home you talk all the time, then maybe you should give him a break when it comes to talking about things that can wait…
Its got to be hard for him too, sometimes in relationships like that you have to think outside the box and be more creative, patient, and understanding.. Just my view

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