Understanding What Getting my Partner to "Listen" Means
Updated: Jan 31, 2019
Why doesn't my partner "listen" to me? Perhaps it's not about actually hearing what we say.
Many individuals who are new to couples therapy with me complain that their partner isn't listening to them. I generally explain that it's not hearing us speak that is usually the issue, rather it's a problem of directly acknowledging, showing empathy, and integrating what they have heard. So it's best to describe the problem accurately. Also, we may want to ask ourselves whether we have identified our own vulnerable emotions, instead of just issuing a complaint about our partner.
It's essential to state our feelings and needs openly and explain the connection with the context in which we are asking for their attention. Also, have we been clear about what we specifically want from them as a response?--Is it empathy alone, or empathy plus a change in behavior, or do we want help or advice?
It's usually best to reframe the problem by embracing the opportunity to develop one's own expressive skills, thereby giving your partner a better chance to grow in their capacity to develop their relational skills, rather than assume the fault lies with the other, or that they are the only ones who need to change.