Practical advice for everyday problems from top local Psychologist, Dr. Lisa Webb
Q: My husband never listens to what I have to say. He says he “hears me” but then he does whatever he wants anyway. How can I get him to pay attention?
Although my answer may seem contradictory to what you are asking, I would say the first thing to do is to check your own listening skills.
Communication between couples is a delicate thing. We each have our own way of communicating. We expect our significant other to pick up on all of our cues, both verbal and non-verbal, and know exactly what we are saying. This is the first step in communication breakdown: we do not come with the power of mind reading. Men and women have very specific communication styles. Rather than building a marriage on mind reading and the guessing game, true communication can lead to knowing each other’s needs and happily working together to fulfill them.
Here are some thoughts to consider:
Never say, “I’m fine,” unless you mean it: when your mate takes the time to ask if you are ok, they are showing love and concern for you. Make sure to give an honest and heartfelt answer when asked. Sometimes we think that if we say, “I’m fine,” in a not so nice way, they will read between the lines and figure out whatever has hurt us. It will stick-it to our mate and make them “suffer” just a little longer for whatever it is we feel has hurt us.
Listen first, fix later: Before you start offering all of your “fix it” ideas, ask your mate the question, “How can I help you?” They may not want anything more from you than just your listening ear. Don’t feel that you have to make everything better. Sometimes, you can make things better just by showing that you care enough to take the time to listen.
Acknowledge: Within a committed partnership, it is often obvious if there is conflict or if one of you is upset. Rather than ignoring the obvious, hoping to avoid confrontation, lovingly ask your partner what their frustrations are and be ready to listen and take responsibility in your part of the misunderstanding. The simple words “I’m sorry” have the power to save marriages.
Lisa Webb is at the Body & Mind Consulting Associates Group: www.bodymindtn.com. Her latest book: “Boardroom to Bedroom, Using your Executive Success for your Marriage” is available at www.amazon.com.