1. Never actually say, "We need to talk."
When we hear those four dreaded words, our experience tells us that "whatever follows is going to have all the appeal of a colonoscopy," says David Matthews, author of Every Man

couple whispering (Courtesy of The Nest)

Sees You Naked.

2. Tell us a secret.
"Show us that you trust us by sharing something that you’ve never shared with anyone," says Matthews. "If it’s of a sexual nature, all the better." (Unless the secret is, say, I’ve slept with 500 dudes.) The openness makes us less guarded, it helps tear down our walls, and it encourages us to open up.

3. Be clear and specific.
File under: So crazy it just might work. The sneakiest approach might just be, well, a direct one. "The average guy doesn’t communicate with words the way women do; they use their words more to convey information, rather than to form a connection," says Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity. Try: "I want to talk about these problems I’ve been having with my mother, and I want to know if you think I should cut back on spending time with her."

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4. Camouflage it with an activity.
This helps minimize eye contact, which men are hardwired to avoid, and eases him into the conversation. Take a long walk together, or share a meal—anything that makes whatever you want to talk about less intense.

5. Be Direct. (And stop talking about yourself.)
Too harsh? Author and dude expert Chris Illuminati, who doesn’t mince words, says, "Don’t unload stories as long as novels on a dude and follow up with ‘So what’s going on with you?’ If you want your guy to talk, just ask him, but ask him at the right time."

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6. Use a "soft start-up."
"Keep the conversation simple and not highly charged with emotion," says relationship expert Dr. Barton Goldsmith. Instead of saying, "Hey, what are you feeling?" it’s less threatening to say, "Whattya think of this idea?"

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7. Turn off the TV. And wear clothes.
We’re simple creatures, and we’re easily distracted. So "Don’t try to get him talking when he’s focused on X-Box, ESPN or your hot, naked body," says Matthews.

8. Bribe him with gluttony.
When all else fails? Sometimes the sofa, bedroom, or a long walk won’t work. It’s time for the Emergency Backup Plan, as suggested by Illuminati: "Take him to a nice dinner, order grilled animal, and ask him about life. You’ll be surprised what a man will admit with a stomach full of dead cow and two pints of brew."

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