[This message edited by tooloyal at 10:14 AM, April 7th (Sunday)]
I found that it was very important to find out how to create a "safe space" for him to feel like sharing. He was very emotionally beaten down as a kid for having his own thoughts and feelings. We try to set time aside where he knows he won't be judged to get out what he's thinking and feeling.
We both want our marriage to work, and what helps us the best is meeting in the middle. If he has things to say that historically would have upset me, I acknowledge that I need to let him say what he needs to and let him know that I accept what he is saying. He in turn takes the leap of faith and unpacks his emotional boxes during the time we have set aside.
It's gotten a lot easier over time - but it's taken a lot of dedication to the project.
In our case, it has been a rocky process where he he misfires a fair amount when trying to even get in touch with his emotions. It used to be that on the first pass what I ended up hearing is total BS (attacking me or blaming me for something that didn't have much to do with me at all), and it was difficult. However, I can say that now after a solid 6 months of him working on this, he misses less and less frequently. It is hard work though.
We define feelings as sad, mad, glad, or scared. We don't have to say why we feel the way we do, which we classify as 'thoughts' (not feelings), but we ask for support or offer each other support a few times a day, at least on good days.
We spend a lot of time together, so we don't use much energy talking about what we did all day....
Yeah, so after mentioning that a couple days in a row, he finally said "geez, we don't have to have some big in-depth conversation every day". So, either I have made absolutely no progress, or, I'm hoping, that there is something he wants to talk about, but is just scared and it's taking him awhile to be able to get himself to talk about it. I decided I will give it a rest for a couple days, then at an appropriate time I will start a conversation about one of the less painful aspects of what we are dealing with and see if he will open up at all.
Keep us posted if you make any progress, I'm not too confident that I'm going to get anywhere. Good luck to you.
He is getting much better, but feels that his feelings don't count as much as mine do at this time. I am trying to give him as much support as possible around his own healing.
He did not cry after his parents died, but I have since learned that he thinks that his mother looked the other way for years of CSA by her boyfriend. Can you imagine the complicated feelings he would have at her death? There is a lot he has to deal with, and is just finding the tools to do it with.
It's hard to change a lifetime of behavior, even if you really want to.