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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<p>I'm struggling with a cultural barrier and language barrier with my man.  :)  I'm the foreign one in this relationship, as the American, and he's totally considered normal to be quite reserved and tight lipped, awkward with expressing his emotions.  But, from time to time, it really bothers me and I want him to open up and pour his heart out to me.  I want an insight into his soul.  <br>
I'm trying to come to terms that not everyone communicates the same way, with the same framework of verbal skills to draw from.</p>
<p>But, when I want to hear him describe a reaction, or his feelings on a complex subject, and I get a one word answer, I really get frustrated!</p>
<p>I'm wondering if counseling could help?  He says he just doesn't have the capabilities to put his feelings into words.  I can't even begin to grasp that.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Anyone else dealing with a major cultural and language barrier, not to mention differing communication styles in their relationship?</p>
 

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<p>Usually when we want to talk about feelings, we really mean we want to discuss how we see an issue, what we think about it. Feelings are a kind of energy, and I think most of us are sensitive enough to have a pretty good idea of the other person's feelings about something. Even if we were to talk strictly about our feelings, they could be summed up in few words: I'm angry, I'm sad, etc.</p>
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<p>It might be easier for him to answer a request to tell you his perspective about a complex issue, what he thinks, how he would like to deal with it, whatever. If it's inappropriate in his culture for people to be expressive with their feelings, he might think you want him to act out his feelings in some way, but it doesn't sound like that's what you want.You said this is about complex issues, which don't lend themselves to crying jags.</p>
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<p>Some cultures are more "talkative" than others, and I can imagine your strong silent man of the frozen north, giving a one word answer when you wanted a novel! My dp is African, where they will have an hour long discussion about where to eat dinner, covering all the ins and outs of different places until no-one's hungry anymore!</p>
 

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<p>This also sounds like a man vs woman issue, rather than only a language thing. Men's opinions are like women's feelings, so it's not something that most men can get. Check out understandingmen.com for more info. there's several videos and audio in the free section =)</p>
 

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<p>I'm not sure it's necessarily cultural?  I know a lot of American men who are fine with verbally expressing their feelings (more so in my generation than previous ones).  My African husband is the one who can't/won't speak or express emotions.  He does the silent stonewalling things which drives me absolutely berzerk.</p>
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<p>He is improving a little.  He's learned that I *need* to hear his input, and that I *want* to hear if he's happy/sad/depressed, whatever.  When he expresses those things to me, then I know how to relate to him better.  If he bottles it up, I tend to assume he's mad at me or blaming me, etc.  For my part though, I've had to learn that he doesn't have to be emotionally just like me, and that maybe his personal "soul" isn't as complex and overwrought as mine is.<img alt="lol.gif" id="user_yui_3_4_1_2_1327923760742_151" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="width:15px;height:31px;"></p>
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<p><span>He may genuinely have no opinion where I have an incredibly deeply thought out one.  Or he may indeed not be thinking of anything in particular when I'm assuming he must be brooding over something.  He may be devastated by something at work, but literally not know how to put it into words, and feel like speaking it would hurt/burden me, so he stays silent.  Meanwhile, I will natter on about *everything*, regardless of the subject.  For me everything is related to emotions and relationship.  And he can't figure that out.  The kids and I were listening to a humerous take on male-female differences in marriage, and my oldest son was just dying with laughter because he totally related to the male part, and had seen the whole thing played out over and over between me and his father. </span></p>
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<p><span>I think counseling might help, but not as a means to "make" him behave emotionally the way you're more comfortable with.  More as a way for *both* of you to learn to appreciate and work with the differences you have. </span></p>
 

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<p>I agree that this particular difference between you and your husband, <strong>butterflymom</strong>, might be more communication style and gender related than cultural.  Me personally, I'm amazed and overjoyed if mine can muster a one-word response to "How are you feeling?" (and that one word is not "Fine."), and I've learned that in order to plumb the depths of his grumpy soul I need to ask questions like "What do you think about [this concrete problem, and a possible solution to it]?" instead of "How do you feel [about anything]?".  I joke that my husband is either hungry, horny or asleep.  This isn't entirely true...  after 6 years together it turns out that, on occasion, he experiences a warm, gentle sensation in his heart-region which we have determined is affection and contentment.  So he's up to 3 possible states-of-being!</p>
<p>Seriously...  some people, many of them male, are just not very emotional.  It may be that he's not holding back.  It may be that there simply isn't much there to discuss.  Can you look for the ways in which he does communicate?  For example, no matter how comfortable my husband is, and no matter how silly he finds my phobia, when I am doing the shrieking-dance-of-terror because I just found the-biggest-bug-ever-not-even-kidding-this-time, no matter how comfortable he is, or if he's in the shower, or if he's in the garage with a beer, he comes and kills said bug and disposes of it where I will never, ever find it.  Because he loves me.  He doesn't have to say "I love you." (and he doesn't!  He remembers about once a month, and comes to find me so he can check saying it off his to-do list) because he shows me he loves me.  I've also found that he really appreciates when he does say "I love you" for me to respond, sincerely, "I know." with a smooch.  Is there anything your husband does that lets you know he loves you?</p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oh my gosh he does so much. (not married/living together yet, but will be in 3 months when we buy a house). I thought it was a Finnish thing (very tight lipped, reserved people here) but.... It probably is more of a men are from mars or love language thing. I just read The Male Brain & I guess I have to get over wanting him to pour his heart out to me verbally, and hear him in the nonverbal gestures. Seems so obvious, but darn, I still crave a really perfectly put compliment that takes my breath away (every season or so would be fine, not daily!). My passions run intense & i gaze at him adoringly & he'll notice & think im nuts & go "what is it?" the only time he seems half as much with his heart exposed is during sex, then he does look straight into my eyes and i can see it.<br>
I need to start appreciating the ways he does show he care, which are indeed many. He caresses me constantly when I am sitting next to him, and he brings my boys & I groceries when I ask ( its icy out & I don't have a car), and he texts me bunches of times per day just to see how I am & what I'm up to. He's a simple creature (male human) compared to me, in terms of our emotional landscape, but....maybe I'm like cappuccinosmom, and my over-thinking soul could use some simplified, under-wrought influence.
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Butterflymom</strong> <a href="/community/t/1343406/anyone-suffering-from-a-cultural-barrier-within-their-relationship#post_16900333"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
My passions run intense & i gaze at him adoringly & he'll notice & think im nuts & go "what is it?"</div>
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<p><br><br>
This totally made me giggle because this is exactly what happens with DBF and I! I will be looking at him thinking how much I love him and how wonderful he is and he'll catch me staring and go "What? Why are you staring at me?" like I'm some kind of nutjob too! LOL. I just say "because I love you! I can look at you if I want!"</p>
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<p>I feel for you though. I will ask DBF anything (was dinner good? Do I look OK? etc) and I will get "good", "fine" and "yep" as my answers. I just have to remind myself that he's being honest, just not particularly verbose! LOL. It also took the man a year to tell me that he loves me, even though I know by the way he treats me he's been in love with me for a while!</p>
<p> </p>
 

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<p>When I'm desperate for a compliment, I ask him for one.  I also have a little routine I do to signal to him that it's time for him to verbalize.  It's not ideal, but it's working.  <span><img alt="smile.gif" id="user_yui_3_4_1_2_1331131018543_161" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/smile.gif"></span></p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Butterflymom</strong> <a href="/community/t/1343406/anyone-suffering-from-a-cultural-barrier-within-their-relationship/0_100#post_16900333"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Oh my gosh he does so much. (not married/living together yet, but will be in 3 months when we buy a house). I thought it was a Finnish thing (very tight lipped, reserved people here) but.... It probably is more of a men are from mars or love language thing. I just read The Male Brain & I guess I have to get over wanting him to pour his heart out to me verbally, and hear him in the nonverbal gestures. Seems so obvious, but darn, I still crave a really perfectly put compliment that takes my breath away (every season or so would be fine, not daily!). My passions run intense & i gaze at him adoringly & he'll notice & think im nuts & go "what is it?" the only time he seems half as much with his heart exposed is during sex, then he does look straight into my eyes and i can see it.<br>
I need to start appreciating the ways he does show he care, which are indeed many. He caresses me constantly when I am sitting next to him, and he brings my boys & I groceries when I ask ( its icy out & I don't have a car), and he texts me bunches of times per day just to see how I am & what I'm up to. He's a simple creature (male human) compared to me, in terms of our emotional landscape, but....maybe I'm like cappuccinosmom, and my over-thinking soul could use some simplified, under-wrought influence.</div>
</div>
<p><br>
ButterflyMom --</p>
<p>what you wrote is what I was going to suggest.  I've been with my hubby, American born, for ten years.  It used to tear me apart that he wasn't verbal.  His issues are really from his past -- where emotions were dangerous (life threateningly so if you can believe it) to express as a child.  </p>
<p> </p>
<p>I railed, I cryed, I threatened divorce, we did couples therapy.  Nada.  He couldn't do it.  SOooooooo... I learned to accept him as he is and see where, like your boyfriend, he is loving in his actions.  My husband is the most kind, generous, accepting person I know.  He never gives up on me.  And, after really a few good years of working on it (as well as mourning -- literally mourning with all the sadness the death of what I had dreamed of) ... I really have come to a place where I do not need it.</p>
<p><br>
Where do you find the compliments and emotional discussion??  GIRLFRIENDS.  I swear, someone told me that, and I realized it is true, and saw that that is where I speak the same language.  So keep investing in the close female friends that you can go out and get wild with and share your innermost and be loved.  Even better if it is a group of gals.  </p>
<p> </p>
<p>And ... of course I know you know this ... the love has to come from inside ... for oneself.  You gotta be good inside without the external things. Because external expressions, if you are hiding an emptiness inside -- they can't ever touch that.</p>
<p> </p>
 

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<p>We have a similar situation. For us, it's partly a cultural thing, and it's partly because he has Aspergers. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>As far as the cultural differences go, they have decreased over the years as we've spent more and more time together. He's still basically going to be inclined towards being macho, though. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>Cultural inclinations and Aspergers also interact, of course.</p>
 
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