When one or both of you are not listening to one another, you have a problem in your marriage. If the lack of listening continues, it could be a sign that your marriage is in jeopardy.
Possible Reasons Why Your Spouse Doesn’t Listen to You
The listening problem in your marriage could be related to issues that your spouse has, your method of delivery, or a combination of both.
Your Method of Delivery
- You may be taking too long to say what you want to say. Long-winded monologs are boring. Get to the point.
- You may monopolize conversations with your spouse. Give your spouse a chance to talk.
- If you have a history of saying things that are hurtful, insulting, intimidating, dismissive, or disrespectful of your spouse’s beliefs and feelings, your spouse will be protective and defensive by not listening to you. Don’t say these things!
- If there is a pattern of manipulation in what you say to your spouse, your spouse will tune you out. Stop being manipulative. Say what you mean.
- If your talking style is one of preaching, lecturing, or questioning, your spouse may prefer to not hear your lectures or questions. Stop being the professor or attorney in your marriage.
- You may use too many generalities in your statements. Comments that use words like “always”, “never”, and “constantly” can cause a spouse to tune out the entire conversation. Eliminate these words from your vocabulary.
- Your timing could be off. Your spouse probably won’t listen when tired, preoccupied with other thoughts, involved with a project, watching television, or working on the computer. Tell your spouse you want to talk and ask if it is a good time. If your spouse says no, don’t get pouty.
- Any conversations about topics or issues that have been discussed at length previously will cause a spouse to tune out. Don’t keep bringing up old issues or topics.
- Your spouse may have grown tired of continued conversations where you complain, whine, or speak negatively. Be more positive.
- Perhaps you don’t listen to your spouse. Exam how you listen when your spouse is discussing an important topic with you.
Your Spouse’s Own Personal Issues
- Your spouse may not be interested in the subject you are talking about. Ask if this is something your spouse wants to talk about.
- Your spouse may be afraid of intimacy.
- Your spouse may disagree with what you are saying and isn’t open to hearing your side of an issue.
- Your spouse may have listened as much as possible that particular day and is in information overload. Don’t push for more.
- If you are giving your spouse advice or information, your spouse may believe that he/she already knows the answer or how to do something.
- Your spouse may have the habit of racing ahead of what you are saying by thinking of how to respond.
- Your spouse could judge that what you have to say isn’t important.
- Your spouse may believe that ignoring what you say will make the issue or situation go away.
- Your spouse may not want to hear what you have to say.
- Your spouse may only be using half a brain to listen. “Researchers in the United States have found that men only listen with half their brain, while women use both sides … he [Dr. Joseph T. Lurito] suggested women were not necessarily better listeners. He said women may need to use more of their brain to listen to conversations, but said it could show women could listen to two conversations at once.”1
- Your spouse may feel intimidated and not comfortable expressing his/her opposing view, so tuning out is an easier option. Allow your spouse to disagree with you.
- Your spouse may have a short attention span. According to Carla Rieger, the attention span of an average adult is only 7 seconds. You need to pause now and then as you speak. Allow your spouse to ask questions to clarify what you are saying.
- Your spouse may have too many distractions at the time of your conversation. If having total attention to what you are saying is important to you, turn off cell phones, etc.
- Your spouse may not want to listen to avoid conflict.
- Your spouse may have heard what you said, but believes differently or doesn’t want to do what you asked, and it is easier to be perceived as not listening than to say no.