How do I get my husband to listen to me?

I'm always listening to my husband, but it feels like he never listens to me.

How do I get my husband to listen to me instead of me listening to him all the time?

Toni Genovese
Toni Genovese
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Thanks for reaching out. This is a great question. Communication is definitely a 2-way street. One person cannot participate in a discussion. It takes a talker and a listener. Furthermore, communication will breakdown if each party is only focusing on his or her agenda and is not open to what the other person is saying.  since I can't ask you questions about what is going on, I am going to make a guess at one situation that comes up a lot when I work with couples. One person focuses more on solving the issue, than listening to their partner.  This can be frustrating for the partner who wants to just be "heard."

I understand that you are working really hard to listen to him and he might not be putting as much effort into listening to you. That can be really frustrating and difficult and I want to acknowledge you for wanting to improve your relationship.

One of the best strategies to gettting heard, is actually to BE A GOOD LISTENER to someone else. I know you are probably already a good listener and for you to work on listening skills may seem counterintuitive, right? You want to get heard and now you are the one doing the listening. But this can really create more effective communication if you invest time working on doing some active listening in your relationship because then you get to model those skills for your husband and allow him to see what it feels like to be listened to and then you can even teach him some of those skills. In other words, you practice specific techniques that you can use and then teach later on. 

Here are some skills for you to use consciously and then you can teach:

  • Pay attention and use your body language to convey that you are in the conversation. No texting or distractions. Lean in. Focus.
  • Listen for content and for emotion. Clarify what you don't understand. Try to understand the person's underlying emotions. 
  • Don't rush to judgement or to changing what is going on with the person. Sit in a place where you are really curious and want to understand what is going on. 
  • Encourage the other person to continue speaking, Nod and vocalize that you hear what they are saying.
  • Ask questions to get to understand the other person's point of view.
I believe when we can model these kinds of listening skills, and the other person feels heard, they will be more likely to listen to us. If you don't find that this doesn't spill over in that way, then have a discussion about what you are practicing and that you are learning these skills to be a better listener so you can understand him better. Then explain how it might be helpful if you both tried it. If there is push back from him, set up a trial period to just try the skill, perhaps for 2 weeks and see if it helps. If communication is really breaking down, then it might be time to work with a counselor who can help with these skills.

Best of luck to you!
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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