Feeling unheard in a relationship is one of the worst feelings in the world! It can lead a person to feeling: lonely, alone, sad, frustrated, disappointed, resentful and angry. Feeling unheard in a relationship can really cause a breakdown in communication, and ultimately lead to a breakup, a divorce, or just an unhappy relationship.
There are many reasons you might be feeling unheard in your relationship. See if any of these four things sound familiar:
1. Your Spouse Talks Over You.
When I get really excited or passionate about something, or I have a thought, I need to get it out because I’m afraid I’ll forget what I was going to say after the person is done speaking. So, I tend to talk over others, at times. I’m working on changing that. If you are feeling unheard during a discussion or when arguing with your spouse, ask him or her to get out a pad of paper and write down what they want to say. It’s kind of like a presidential debate. He or she will have your time to respond AFTER the you are finished trying to make your point.
2. They only hear what they want to hear.
This can drive a person nuts. There is so much defensiveness and negativity and resentment built up, that whatever you say, you feel like you can’t win. Sound familiar? This is something you really don’t have control over because your spouse has to choose to listen. Maybe ask your spouse to just TRULY try to listen to what you are saying. Also, say things like “This is how I am feeling. I’m not saying that I am blaming you.” or “I’m not criticizing you, I’m just trying to explain to you how I feel.” This might get the person’s defenses down.
Do you know what I absolutely could not hate any more? When you’re trying to gently tell a person something they said or did that hurt your feelings and they reply, “Sorry I’m such a horrible person.” That drives me insane! This is a person with no self-awareness, and a person who has poor communication skills. And then you have to say, “I’m not saying you are a horrible person! I’m just saying that when you did …. it was hurtful.” And they still don’t get it! Try to realize that you are powerless to this. This is a communication skill that the person has to work on themselves. It might make you realize that you need to get out of the relationship.
3. They don’t ask questions.
Often times, a spouse doesn’t understand exactly what we are saying, but instead of asking follow up questions, they just let you keep talking and just don’t listen. For example, let’s say you are telling your spouse about a problem you are having with someone from work. You are going on and on and it feels good to vent, but you can tell your spouse isn’t really listening. He or she is just kind of nodding or starts doing something else while pretending to listen. He or she doesn’t ask any questions, just lets you go on and on.
I think in a way, that can be good because maybe all you needed was to get it out and vent, and you didn’t really want advice or to talk further about it. But if you need advice, and the person just isn’t emotionally available, that can feel hurtful and frustrating.
4. They listen and then choose not to care.
Let’s say a spouse comes home from a long, bad day at work and he says, “I would give anything to just get on the couch and order food and watch a movie.” Meanwhile, his wife has made reservations at a restaurant that has taken weeks to get into. Maybe she heard what he said and then said, “Oh, come on, once you get out you’ll be so happy you did!” Now, that might end up being true, but the point is, she didn’t listen to his needs. She didn’t consider what he really wanted.
In this day and age of constant information coming at us: television, radio, internet on the computer, cell phones, even video ads when you stop for gas, it isn’t easy to listen. We all gotten so bombarded with information that we can’t just take a breath and really listen closely to anything. Everything we absorb is a glimpse. A twitter post, an instagram reel, a Facebook message. Even this article. Some people will skim it so quickly they will only absorb about half of what I wrote.
But with the people we love most and other relationships that are very important to us it is important to genuinely listen, and if you are feeling unheard in your relationship, you either need to work on this with your spouse or get out of the relationship. Yes, listening to each other and feeling heard is one of the most vital aspects to a happy, healthy romantic relationship.
On the flip side, feeling heard in a relationship is so validating. It makes you feel understood and loved and valued adored and cared for. When people feel heard in their relationship, it fosters trust and commitment. They want to give back to their spouse because they feel so connected when they feel heard.
It’s OK to have quiet space in conversations, to just sit there and take in what the other just said. Even in texting, why does everyone’s response have to be so quick? We have come to expect this, and I think in certain instances, it is harmful because the listening isn’t there.
Listening to someone shows them you truly care about their feelings. And isn’t that one of the most important things that needs to come across in a loving relationship? PS. If you feel like your spouse doesn’t listen to you, then send him or her this article to read!
Like this post? Check out my blog, “9 Signs of a Healthy Romantic Relationship”
Tulsa Divorce Lawyer Matt Ingham
Numbers 1 and 4 are hard for most everyone because we all want to be heard and most days, life is hectic and we tend to overlook the details like non-verbal and subtle cues