Do you often feel that your husband or fiancé isn’t hearing you? It can feel like he doesn’t care and, if he’s not attuned to you, really listening to you, it can feel deeply, personally, wounding.
Chances are, though, that he loves you and doesn’t want to hurt you. The trouble is that he may not have learned how to be comfortable with or recognize emotions, someone else’s emotional needs, or how to present.
If he learns that it is painful for you when you don’t feel seen or heard, for who you are, your needs and desires, he will want to change that.
So, what can you do?
Unfortunately, if a man wasn’t taught to do any of the things listed above, he is unlikely to intuitively pick up on your pain. It’s a learned skill.
First, he has to know that there is a problem and how important that problem is for you and your relationship. It has to be done lovingly: the worst way to teach loving attention is to punish by withdrawing it. Kind, direct communication is going to work best.
The way to get your partner to listen is by assigning him a task. You just need him to do something for you. Men like tasks. It’s something they feel that they can do – with the right knowledge and instruction.
Pointers for how to get your husband to listen to you:
1. Pick a good time to sit down together
- Make sure that it is a time when you both are available: Be sure that the time you pick is one where he doesn’t anything urgently pressing – or have plans.
- This is not the time to see if he’ll pick you over his buddies or the gym, or work. He will resent that and it won’t help the issue you want to address.
- If he says it’s not a good time – don’t react negatively; ask when would be a good time for him. “I don’t know” is not okay; ask him to let you know by dinner time.
2. Keep it short
It doesn’t have to and it shouldn’t take a long time to explain what you need. Right now, you need to be heard that you need to be heard.
3. Keep it simple
- Do not a list of all the times you’ve not been heard and put up with his lack of presence. There will be time to be heard about those things later.
- Have two examples ready that are easy to understand and admit to, in case he asks for one.
4. Don’t use a lot of emotional language
It is confusing and overwhelming for most men until they have learned the language of emotion.
5. Be aware of your own emotional state
If you have to do this, you probably haven’t been heard for a long time, so be aware that you might be easily triggered to frustration or anger. You have a right to that… and, if you want to be heard, your frustration/anger, expressed harshly, can shut that down… fast.
6. How to start the conversation
- Take his hand and sit down with him
- Say (using your own words) “I really need your help with something”
- “For now, I just need you to listen… not say anything.”
- “…I need you to focus on what I’m saying, not prepare your answer or go away in your head. I need you here. Can you do that?” If he’s not present, you can gently draw him back into the moment.
- “Please don’t try to solve or fix anything… just… listen.” Men like to solve problems. Emotional problems are especially uncomfortable and solving feels good.
- Assure him that you love him; that you are not angry with him (yes, you are frustrated by his behavior, but not angry with who he is – it’s a really important distinction).
Remember that this conversation is about getting your main point across: “I don’t feel heard. That feels like I am not loved and respected for who I am. I need that. Please help by leaning in and hearing what I am saying.” That’s all. This is not to correct the situation. This is about drawing his attention to the problem and appealing to his love for you so that he can become the listener you want and deserve.
He will need some guidelines for this. Don’t assume that once you’ve stated the problem, he will magically have the formula to really listen to you. These are just tips to make your husband listen to you, he will need more encouragement and support to do what you want him to do.
Now that you know the strategies to get your man to listen to you, the part II of this article will help you sort out a simple way for him that will ensure that he can begin to learn to meet your needs. You are already good at listening. He isn’t. You both come by this honestly and patience is a necessary component. You’ll know if he’s working at it – it’ll be clear.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by James W Annear