Do you sometimes speak to your partner and sense that he or she is not listening to you? Here are 5 questions to ask yourself in order to avoid unpleasant feelings:
1: Are you aware of what you are doing physically while you are talking?
Not feeling heard can affect your self-esteem or even provoke anxiety. But are you aware of what you do while your partner is communicating with you? Do you maintain eye contact? Are you showing that you are listening when your partner is telling you something? Sometimes simple non-verbal communication such as nodding can be used to make sure that your partner feels heard. If your partner feels heard, he will be much more willing to listen to you as well.
2: Are you both easily distracted?
Often partners who don't feel heard in their relationship easily get distracted themselves. We all have a limited supply of attention each day, so distractions really take their toll, especially when it comes to communication. Don't allow distractions to steal your attention and ask your partner to do the same. Blocking out external distractions seems to be one of the best strategies for improving relationships. The moment you lose external focus, your attention goes to more internal signals. This can help couples to become more aware of things that are bothering them and focus more on the things they want.
3: Do you quickly try to fix things?
Sometimes we try to give advice before we have fully understood our partner's concerns. This can lead to your partner shutting down. Although it can be tempting to try to fix things for the person you love most, it is better to appreciate their freedom and self-determination. What you and your partner need most, is to feel heard and understood. And what you give out is always what you will get back.
4: Does the worse matter more to you than the better?
Do you have the tendency to notice negative things more strongly than positive ones? Think about moments in the past when your partner was listening to you. How did that feel? Focus on it and by doing this, the positive emotion will become stronger. Stop the negative spiral before it begins: Sometimes partners stop listening to each other just because one partner has developed a strong negative view.
5: Can you find a way to live with it?
If your partner is not listening to you and you cannot find a way to change this, then maybe you can accept that we all have flaws. Maybe there is something about your partner that is more important to you than being heard. If you can learn to focus on the good things rather than on the bad, you will be able to watch your relationship grow as you do so. No one has a perfect relationship, but when your attention and awareness is on what is working, instead of what is not working, you can feel happy and content with your partner - and with yourself.
I'm Natalie Marby, an English speaking therapist in Hamburg, Germany. I am half German and half British and I offer couples therapy in English, especially for expats living in Hamburg. I offer all my counselling sessions also over the phone as well as online. To contact me, you can send me an email or call me: +49040 46090233. (Please don't forget to send me your phone number and the times I can reach you). I look forward to hearing from you!