Breaking the Silence

Dear Laurie,

My wife and I are in our fifties; we have been married twenty years. Almost every day, late in the afternoon or in the evening, we go for a walk for about an hour.

When we were both actively employed, we would enthusiastically share with each other how our days had gone, often seeking the perspective of the other. We are now both semi-retired — both of us work part-time, but it is at our discretion.

We always eat breakfast together (that never happened for the first 18 years of our marriage), we usually eat lunch together, and we almost always eat dinner together. Sometimes now when we walk, we find that neither of us can think of anything to talk about — partially because we know each other so well, partially because we’ve spent the day together, so there is no news to share.

We both hate to waste such a great opportunity, emotionally and spiritually, to share with each other. Yet we sometimes walk in silence — not by choice, but because neither of us can think of anything to say. Any suggestions for how to break the silence?

Dennis Hooper

Dear Dennis,

Years ago I asked a similar question of a spiritual teacher who happens to be a friend and is also in a wonderful, solid, long-term marriage. She told me that she and her husband often rode in the car in silence and felt that there was nothing wrong with doing so. Her reply made me feel a little more comfortable when my husband and I have nothing to say to each other.

However, I think there’s more to it than that. One of the dangers of being in a mature, connected relationship is focusing too much on one another and not enough on the outside world. It’s an easy trap to fall into. I know because I’ve been there.

Full disclosure: we have been married for 47 years. We too sometimes go through periods where we forget to talk to each other.

We’ve managed the problem in several different ways.

· Instead of talking about problem solving we talk about what we’re seeing, feeling and doing at the moment. One definition of true intimacy is “I and Thou in the here and now.”
· We deliberately do things in the world outside of our own relationship. We take different classes, belong to different groups, read different books and talk to each other about them.
· We find projects to do together. Sometimes the projects are related to our work and sometimes they’re related to our home. In either case they give us lots to talk about.

Many mature couples have told me that doing the activities in the Being Happy Together: How to Create a Fabulous Relationship With Your Life Partner in Less Than an Hour a Week Program, helps keep their relationships fresh You and your wife might enjoy these too.

Do let me know how these suggestions work for you.

Warmly,

Laurie

[tags]Togetherness, Relationships, Communication, Relationship Advice[/tags]

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