DEAR HARRIETTE: Whenever my wife gets upset, she goes out in the backyard and works in her garden. I get that it is therapeutic for her, but it can be frustrating for me. I mean, I want her to be able to talk about whatever the issue is. Don't most women like to talk about stuff? She is totally different. She shuts down and plants flowers or a tree or something. How can I get her to stay inside and talk to me? We've been married only a couple of years, and I'm worried that we won't make it if we never talk about our disagreements. I love her and want to figure it out. -- Make It Work, Silver Spring, Maryland
DEAR MAKE IT WORK: Consider a new strategy. Give her some space at first, and then join her in the garden. Without talking, be together working the earth. Get into her groove. Pay attention to how she behaves while you are in her space. Don't crowd her. Just be with her.
At another time, ask her if she will talk to you. Tell her you are concerned that the two of you have not figured out a way to argue and make up after. Explain that you love her dearly and that you want to grow together as a couple. That means that you need to discover a way to work through disagreements, arguments and other difficulties that you may face. You believe that talking about whatever is going on is important. Ask her if she would be willing to try to talk through things with you. You can come up with a strategy together. For example, you might agree to take some time to cool off and then get together to talk. If she likes your help in the garden, maybe you can agree to work silently there for a while and then come inside to talk. When you do talk, do not yell. Work hard to be kind to each other even as you address your grievances.