How to talk when your spouse doesn't listen
Written by Dr. D.J. Gaughan

How to talk when your spouse doesn’t listen

Date:

Relationships can be hard. You need to learn to understand another person’s needs and help that person understand yours. When your spouse doesn’t listen to you, though, it feels much harder.

If you can’t effectively communicate, you may feel like things are falling apart. This may even feel like your breaking point. Still, you do not have to give up. Before you stop trying to talk to your spouse, consider some of the following tips.

Be Understanding

Communication has to work both ways. This is why it becomes so frustrating when you feel like your spouse doesn’t listen to you. In your frustration, though, think about how you respond. If you yell or shut down, you may be adding to the problem.

One of the hardest things to do in a conversation is listening to understand. Many people, especially in arguments, listen not to understand the other person, but to find a chance to speak. Take in your spouse’s words and body language. Do what you can to really understand his or her position. Before you get upset that your spouse doesn’t listen, make sure you do.

Take time as well to pause while you speak. If you overwhelm your spouse with too many thoughts at once, it can be easy for him or her to drift. Speak, pause and listen. Your rhythm can help you encourage a meaningful conversation.

Strive for Re-engagement

To help reconnect, you can take additional steps when you feel like your spouse isn’t listening. Do what you can to take some time alone. Too often, pressures of the moment–kids, work, friends, and more–can create barriers for you. If you are having trouble communicating, eliminating the “noise” around you can help.

When you do speak, don’t speak for your spouse. Starting sentences with “you” sounds like you are explaining your spouse’s thoughts to him or her. Even worse, it can sound like an accusation. Use “I” instead; remember you can only speak for yourself, not your spouse.

Finally, make sure you stick to the point. Conversations with your spouse are not about winning points or coming out ahead. When you disagree, stay with the topic or issue you are discussing. Sometimes your spouse doesn’t listen because this kind of wandering becomes frustrating. Stay on topic to help him or her engage.

Positive Cues

Sometimes how you speak is as important as what you say. When your spouse doesn’t listen, do not raise your voice. Yelling will not make them pay more attention or give you what you want. It can make you seem threatening, even when you don’t mean to be.

Your body language makes a difference too. When you’re having an important conversation, make eye contact without letting electronic devices interrupt. Opening up to them can make this a more welcoming discussion.

Finally, do not assume a difference of opinion means you are at an impasse. If your spouse disagrees on a point, you can agree to disagree.  This does not mean they win or that they don’t listen. You are different people and will believe different things.

Sometimes you may feel like your spouse doesn’t listen to you at all. Other times, your spouse is waiting to have a real conversation. If you can keep trying to communicate, you may be able to protect the marriage. However, if you reach a decision that you are headed for divorce, contact one of the professionals at Best Legal Choices for advice.