It can be really frustrating when you reach out to talk with your ex husband and you get no reply. Does your ex make you feel like persona non grata? Does your former husband no longer even wish to give you the time of day?
Now some people might ask, why even both calling or texting your ex husband? “After all, you guys are no longer an item, so why not just leave him be“, they may say.
Well, unfortunately, our emotions and feelings about our relationships are very complex and sometimes we may wish to explore if the relationship can be rekindled.
Yet we may be plagued with uncertainties about his feelings. Your estranged husband may be giving you the silent treatment. You may think he is tired of you and just wants the relationship over.
Not so fast, I say. As I mentioned, emotions are complex in how and when they play out. I wrote a post about the topic of whether your husband is simply sick of being married to you. Just maybe it is not true and there is something you can do about it. Take a moment later to read the post below….
Or it could be you simply need to talk about some non relationship issues. Or you may be torn inside and really don’t know quite what you want. Sometimes people can experience a form of cognitive dissonance.
You, Your Ex Husband and Cognitive Dissonance
So what does cognitive dissonance have to do with your feelings about your ex husband? Now, you may have arrived at this page looking for a discussion on just how you can get your ex husband to talk with you and stop ignoring you. And I promise we will get to some tactics you can employ that will help you on that front. But it is best you gain a broader perspective about why you may still be interested in talking with your. To accomplish this it is best to start first with defining what cognitive dissonance is all about.
Let me give you the simple definition. Imagine you are sorting through some rather complicated feelings you have for your ex-husband. On one hand, you may still think of your ex husband as a person you love very much. You may still have many beautiful memories about your times together. You may even wonder if you did the right thing about splitting up with your ex husband. So it is very possible that you can harbor all of these thoughts for your ex husband, yet also still feel animosity and resentment for your former spouse.
How can this happen? How can you feel both love and a kind of “hate” for your ex husband? Well, it’s simple. Our minds have the capacity to have certain beliefs that are diametrically opposed to other thoughts and beliefs we hold.
Your ex husband can be really angry at you, but he may also still have deep caring feelings. I get into this issue in this post, along with some things you can do to better the situation.
So in a nutshell, cognitive dissonance is when we believe two things that are in conflict with each other. Such is the way in which our emotions and feelings around our prior relationships can twist and turn us into human pretzels.
Now this may not answer completely why you wish for your ex husband to connect with you. It could be something very simple and straightforward. It may not even be that big of a deal. Or, it is possible you are driven by a strong, almost overwhelming desire to communicate with your ex.
Your reasons, I am sure, are very personal and without knowing all of the details, it is impossible for anyone to be sure what drives you to feel the way you do. But it is useful to understand that there can be deeper psychological reasons that can take hold of how you feel and think about certain things. On one level it make not make a lot of sense why a person can hold on to two competing beliefs. Just know that it happens to everyone. What is more interesting is why it happens. Let’s explore that!
There is a physiological principle that you should be aware of to help you understand why you may feel compelled to want to get a response from your ex husband. It is called Psychological Reactance.
Essentially, the way this principle operates is that if something is taken away from you….a type of thing that you inwardly feel is a personal freedom….then you will often work all the harder to try and restore this freedom.
So on one hand, while you may still feel angry and upset for things that you ex husband did that led to the break up of the marriage, you may still feel rejected when he neglects to communicate or respond to your efforts to communicate.
Such a situation may cause you to try even harder to make contact with your ex because psychologically you feel you are being deprived of something that was at one time a free exchange.
When your ex simply ignores you, for whatever reason, part of you cannot accept that and is attracted to the idea of restoring that communication; even though another part of your may despise your ex husband or want nothing to do with him. Such are the vagaries of our emotional control center. Don’t be too surprised if you discover that your feelings toward your ex husband are bouncing all over the place.
Ok, so now you understand what may be driving you to want to reach out and restore communications with your ex husband. Let’s now explore why your ex may be ignoring you or why he may choose to ignore your efforts to start a dialogue.
Why Do Ex Husbands Shut Down?
For starters, I think it is useful to understand something about guys in general. Though they can be exceptional articulate and communicative, men often just don’t like to communicate their feelings, particularly when is has to do with the nuts and bolts of your prior relationship.
And if you are reaching out about something, irrespective of what it is, a guy will often default to the notion that a conversation with you is likely to turn into dialogue about the relationship.
So one reason for your ex husband failure to talk to you may be something that is more tied to his tendency to be a “guy” and shut down if he thinks that talking with your may result in a review or “play back” of the relationship.
How do you combat this tendency for men to shut down?
Well, it is simple! Ok, it really is not simple. Nothing is simple when it comes to men and women and the forces that govern relationships. But if you wish to increase your chances of a response, then think about doing a little preemptive strike.
In other words, make sure he understands that your desire to communicate with him has nothing to do with past relationship issues, but is strictly about “such and such” and that in no way do you want the conversation to weigh negatively on either of you. In effect, what you are doing is taking away any potential objection your ex husband may have about talking with you.
Another reason why your ex husband may be avoiding you is he may still be harboring resentment and anger. Depending on what went down between the two of you, he may still feel somewhat upset or possibly very disturbed about the state of the relationship.
Whether you feel your ex husband is more at fault for the state of the marriage than yourself (or not), just know that your ex’s way of processing things is very different than your own. His understanding and weighing of the facts may paint an entirely different picture in his mind than what you have sketched in your mind.
Your ex husband may be viewing things in way that is completely off base. So sometimes, no amount of rational explanation or re-examination of the facts will make a dent in his “take” on what has happened and who is to blame.
So in such a situation it is often wise to give you ex husband space. People go through stages of emotional recovery whey they are dealing with heartache, sadness, or anger. If you push too hard to solicit a response, you may only add to your ex husband’s anger level. A wiser option is to let the emotions run their course.
Try Flipping Your Relationship Situation
Try looking at the situation in a different way. Flip it around.
Remember, if your ex husband is exceptionally upset with you and is giving you the silent treatment, then that suggests he must really still care about you to be so angry. Allow your ex to process things and while no one can assure you he will lay down all of his anger and resentment for you, it is likely that after some time, the rising tide of these negative feelings will recede. At that time, you may have a better opening.
So what if your simply want to talk to your ex husband about something that is not “relationship based”, but an issue of some criticality? For example, what if you need to talk to your ex husband about finances or the children or an issue around coordinating something involving both of you? What if you are not in a position to wait a week or weeks for your ex husband’s emotions to settle back down?
This is actually a tough area to advise you in because of the nature of communication and the role it may have played in the break up of your marriage. If your ex husband was not a very “talky” kind of guy during the marriage…..if your ex was a kind of guy who did not wear is emotions on his sleeve and would not get high marks for being a supportive conversationalist, then you should expect that he will be even worse after the two of you split up.
So, yes, I can offer some tips on how you can get him to respond to you on matters that are not “personal” or “relationship based”, but I think it would be wise if you re-framed your expectations if your ex husband was the sort of marriage partner that was not a strong communicator.
My thoughts around these kinds of scenarios tend to be more pragmatic. As I have discussed, it is wise when you reach out to your ex that you underscore clearly the topic of conversation so as to remove any possibility that your ex husband thinks you want to re-open past relationship wounds.
And you can politely give him a timeline to respond. If he does not meet this “soft deadline”, you can reach out again. But if you don’t hear anything after that, then sometimes it is best to proceed without his input, if that is at all possible.
Are There Other Ways To Get My Ex Husband to Talk With Me?
You bet there are some ways in which you can open up communication channels with your ex husband. I know it can be frustrating and almost maddening when your ex won’t extend the basic courtesies of responding to your text or phone call.
But don’t be deterred. When you find yourself in such a situation, then its time to shift your paradigm about how you go about getting your ex husband to pay attention to your efforts to open up the dialogue channel.
My first piece advice deals with changing the way in which you are attempting to make the initial contact. When I talk about initial contact I am referring to the first effort you make to reach out to your ex.
What do you think would be a more effective approach? A text message that says, “Just checking in with you” or a text message that arouses your ex husband’s curiosity in a big way. Clearly, the latter approach is going to give you the better odds at getting a response from your former husband.
Use the Zeigarnik Effect on your Ex Husband!
So what can you say to arouse his curiosity in a meaningful way? Let me introduce you to the Zeigarnik Effect. Of course, you are probably thinking, “what the heck is that”.
Let me explain. Have you ever noticed that the most popular and successful shows on television and cable will tell your the stories in a series of episodes in which at the end of each episode, you are left hanging. The reason the show producers leave you hanging is due to the psychological principle called the Zeigarnik effect.
You see, people tend to be much more motivated to remember uncompleted tasks and really want to see things come together. So if you throw in a bit of cliff hanger at the end of a show (or a conversation…hint…hint!), the person watching that show (or participating in the conversation) will be highly motivated to see what becomes of the situation.
You can leverage this effect when you are seeking to get a response from your ex husband. If you really want to hear back from him, then set up the front end of your message with something intriguing, but then leave him hanging on what happened.
This can be accomplished in a lot ways. I had one client who was having difficulty getting her ex husband to return her calls about a wide variety of things. So she decided to use the Zeigarnik effect and left her ex husband a message that sounded rather normal until the very end when she exclaimed, “oh my god“, then disconnected.
Well, when the ex husband listened to his messages and heard her voice trail off like something, possibly shocking or frightening, had happened, he could not help himself. He called her immediately and then found that she was perfectly fine and what had caused her reaction was a spider crawling up her leg resulting in a temporary moment of panic.
Do you think that is manipulative? Interesting question isn’t. I confess, this approach is not the most honest form of communication, strictly speaking. I usually don’t recommend using the Zeigarnik effect as a matter of frequent practice. But, sometimes you have to reach into your bag of tricks if you really need to open up the communications with the ex. Hopefully, it opens up a door in which after the initial communications get underway, the two of you can develop an understanding of how communications should unfold in the future.
Humor is another way to gain a communication opening with your ex husband. Now, I am not talking about slapstick or telling funny jokes to get a reaction. That kind of approach is far too heavy handed. But sometimes sending a text and attaching a humorous photo that you know your ex husband can relate to can open things up. As for example, if you have kids, a pic of one your children doing something funny attached to a brief initial contact message can help grease the skids.
Yet another way to get your ex husband interested in responding to you is to send him a text about something unusual. Maybe something odd or unbelievable happened in conjunction with an experience or place you both shared. This approach might just awaken some fond memories and encourage him to respond.
The thing to keep in mind when you are experiencing communication difficulties with an ex is that dramatic overtures or angry outbursts for his failure to reach out to you won’t win the day.
What wins the race is slow and steady. I like to emphasize the lesson of “little steps”. If you put together enough small, positive attempts to connect in your efforts to regain a more normal level of communications with your ex husband, your chances improve measurably.
If you try all these things and you still can’t seem to get your ex husband to budge, then it’s time to really shake things up. If you are thinking of driving over to his place and confronting him or leaving him a really nasty message, please think again! While you may feel highly upset, even livid that your ex won’t extend the simplest of courtesies, don’t give in to the emotions rising up inside you.
Consider punting. So what do I mean by that? Punting is when you simply give up the chore of trying to initiate contact and settle into a “No Contact Period” where you make zero effort to reach out to him. Even if you eventually hear from him, you ignore him for a spell. Even if he sends out a feeler message, don’t respond. Try this approach for a spell. Perhaps 21 to 30 days.
In this way you change the equation. For all this time, you have been trying to get him to respond to you. For whatever reasons, your ex husband has chosen not to communicate or seldom shows an interest in talking to you. Just go it along for awhile and give your ex what he thinks he wants.
If it is important that the two of you need to talk, your ex will eventually open up. After this period of No Contact has elapsed, then you can send him an initial contact text message.
If you wish to learn a great deal more about this approach (i.e. No Contact Rule), you can visit one of my other websites, exboyfriendrecovery.com, and learn considerably more about how this principle operates.