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  • Writer's pictureCarmel Hill

I Don’t Feel Heard!

“They never listen to me – I’ve asked them to do that about 100 times. They are lazy, they never do anything. I have to do everything in this relationship. I can’t open up to them. “

This is a familiar complaint in the therapy room – and very often it comes from both side of the couple. Both are crying out – trying to get their partner’s attention but ultimately being unsuccessful.

People have different priorities – and different definitions of what “now”, “Later” and “soon” are. So when you are expecting your partner to do that job now, they might see if as now, when I’ve had a coffee/read this newspaper article/finished watching this half of the rugby. So that results in the asker being irritated that the other person isn’t jumping to attention when they ask. Your needs aren’t being met.

Is that solely the other person’s fault?

Could you be better at asking for your needs to be met – in a way that you will be heard? What is the impact of your needs not being met?

I’m guilty of this – expecting my husband to know that I need him to do it now so I can then go on and do the next thing. Fortunately he’s pretty good at picking up on my unimpressed silences and asks for clarification. I’ve been getting better at putting my needs to him – but it’s a slow process.

On an emotional level not being heard results in you pulling back and not extending yourself again. Once bitten, twice shy. If you have tried to show yourself to the other person and they haven’t reacted well – you will be slow to try again. That leads to a build-up of resentment on your part – why have they not heard what I want? It can also lead to resentment on their part – you never tell me what you want.

There are so many ways to listen, and hear, and we are bombarded constantly with examples of what to do and how to do it that sometimes we can’t see (hear) the wood for the trees.

Some simple tips can help.
  • Ask for and give clarification: back to communication again. If you aren’t sure of what your partner wants, ask them. If you want something specific – ask for it, give as much information as you have, specific timelines, highlight the impact on you of not getting it.

  • Be present: If your partner is talking to you, put down the phone, mute the tv. There is so much white noise these days that sometimes we are all guilty of letting our partner’s voice add to it – and not realising that they are putting their needs to us. Things get forgotten through all of the noise.

  • Allow Space: Give your partner the space to speak. Don’t interrupt with your interpretation of what they are saying. This is their experience of what’s going on. They may just want to vent, they may want you to offer advice, they may want you to do something. If you interrupt you are allowing your own needs to come above theirs. This is one time to check your ego and rein yourself in. If you let them tell you what they want they will feel heard.

Hearing each other is really easy in the beginning of a relationship, and we all have the skills to hear each other. It’s so easily let go by the wayside and the less practice you get the worse your become at it. Time to sharpen those skills and open your ears to what your partner is really trying to say. Reference:

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