Not feeling heard by your spouse can be one of the most frustrating issues in your relationship. You feel you’ve been clear in expressing a need or a want but it seems like your spouse tunes you out, or hears you out but doesn’t act accordingly. This can be infuriating and disheartening, and leave you at a loss as to how you can get through to your spouse. Not feeling heard by your partner has less to do with what is being said and more about how you’re expressing yourself. It is possible to change this dynamic by learning 3 essential communication techniques. By adjusting how you deliver the message, you can significantly improve how you and your spouse communicate.
Paint A Positive Picture To Feel Heard
The power of positive interactions is immense. When you address your spouse from a positive perspective, it will help ensure a more calm, open, and constructive conversation. This, in turn, will allow your thoughts and feelings to be heard.
Instead of dwelling on your partner’s faults and deficiencies, try guiding the conversation toward where you actually want the relationship to be. Paint a positive, aspirational picture for your spouse, and get them on board. Put in the effort of sharing your vision with them so you can both be working toward the same communication goals. Highlight how being heard will help you and how it can benefit your relationship as a whole.
Consider the differences in tone in the following statements. Each expresses the same idea. However, one has a negative and off-putting tone, and the other puts a positive spin on the same message. The negative statement emphasizes what is lacking, while the positive one expresses what you need and why it matters. Which do you think is more likely to be better received?
Negative: “I never feel heard by you.”
Positive: “I want to feel heard and understood.”
Here’s another example:
Negative: “I feel like I’m always talking to the wall.”
Positive: “When I feel heard by you, I feel respected and appreciated.”
Emphasize Your Own Thoughts, Not Your Partner’s Behaviors
When speaking to your spouse, make sure you’re emphasizing your own thoughts and feelings and not those of your partner. Focus on expressing your needs and not on your partner’s behaviors. The following examples offer two versions of the same idea. The negative statements are accusations which focus on a partner’s shortcomings. The positive statements emphasize your own thoughts and feelings and are more informative and constructive.
Negative: “You never listen to me!”
Negative: “You never hear what I’m saying!”
Positive: “I need to feel heard, which would help me feel more love in our marriage.”
Positive: “When I feel heard, I feel more connected and like a team.”
When you have conversations with your spouse, explain why feeling heard is important and what it does for you. Be as specific as possible, to paint a clear picture. Does not being heard make you feel invisible, disrespected, angry, lonely, or like you’re being taken for granted? Discuss these topics from your perspective and the marriage as a whole. This way, your partner will understand that being heard isn’t only a matter of personal need but will in fact be mutually beneficial.
Advocate For Yourself Without Ultimatums
Learning how to assert yourself and express your needs is an invaluable skill. The key is to do so constructively. Advocate for yourself without ultimatums. Threats don’t work when it comes to relationships and matters of the heart. Instead, practice having constructive conversations with your spouse. By doing so, you will build the space for more connection and understanding.
Here is another set of examples to consider. The negative statement is an ultimatum which will typically only result in escalation and anger. The positive statement is assertive and clear without threats.
Threatening: “If you don’t start listening to me, you’ll be sleeping on the couch for a month!”
Constructive: “I would like to set aside 20 minutes tonight to discuss our weekend plans. This will relieve me of a lot of stress and help me get in the mood for our date night.”
Communication breakdowns are common, and affect couples of all demographics and orientations. It’s possible to reverse course by reflecting on the manner and tone of your interactions and learning to have more positive, constructive conversations. Professional support can help give you a voice. If you’d like to learn how to better communicate with your partner, follow the link below.