Communication is an important key in any relationship. Unfortunately, far too many couples don’t communicate properly.
One of the biggest issues hindering communication is not having your voice heard within your relationship. It’s one thing for your partner to listen to you. But are they really hearing and processing what you’re saying?
It’s important to remember that a relationship is about two people who have needs that need to be met. When one person is expressing their needs but the other isn’t hearing them, this crucial element is being neglected.
Thus, if your lines of communication are starting to sound more like “white noise,” it could be time to rethink the way you communicate.
How Do You Know If Your Voice Isn’t Being Heard?
Of course, every relationship is different, and so are communication styles. But there are certain things to look out for that indicate your partner isn’t hearing what you have to say.
Some of the most common signs include:
Selective memory – They might remember things on their calendar, friends’ birthdays, etc., but they don’t remember something important you told them the night before.
Distractions – Does your partner start to do other things when you want to talk to them? Whether it’s chores around the house or something they suddenly “remembered” that needed to get done, this is a sign you’re not actively being heard.
Lashing out – If your partner lashes out in aggression when you bring up a topic important to you, they could be trying to get you to back off so you don’t talk about it again.
Arguing – Some partners will also drag out an argument for long periods of time until you “give up” or get tired of talking about the subject. Again, this is to make sure you don’t bring it up again.
If your voice isn’t being heard in a relationship, it’s not only harmful to the relationship itself, but it can be harmful to your own self-esteem and emotional well-being.
How Do You Have Your Voice Be Heard?
It’s important to note that some partners just will not listen. They might continue their habits no matter what you do, drowning you out and silencing your voice in the relationship. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is to cut ties with that person.
But, if the relationship can be fixed and you believe your partner can change, there are things you can do to get through to them effectively.
One of the best things you can do is simply to share with them your observation about them when you feel they are not listening, and ask them what is going on. You want to be mindful of not using the work “why”. Often times it puts people on guard and feels accusatory. Try to approach it with observation and curiosity. For example you might say to your partner, “I notice that when I share my thoughts and feelings with you tend to pick up your phone or begin organizing the papers on the counter. This often leaves me feeling ignored and confused. I am curious as to what is happen for you in those moments?”
Maybe they don’t fully realize that they’re ignoring or belittling the things you have to say. They might be going through problems of their own that make it hard for them to fully listen to your concerns. Approaching with curiosity invites dialogue, where as asking why often shuts it down.
Be genuine with your curiosity and questions. If you don’t want to know the answer to a question, then don’t ask it. People generally can sense the difference between genuine and contrived curiosity.
Sometimes, this is all it takes for the dynamic of a relationship to change.
As silly as it might sound, another great option is to give a presentation to your partner. You don’t need to draw up a PowerPoint slideshow. But you can explain to them how you’re feeling and how their lack of listening affects your relationship. This can get more productive communication going, especially if you’re open to hearing their feelings in return.
A good way to get them started with paying attention as you begin this presentation is to showcase how they will benefit from hearing your voice. Also, let them know how much they would be helping you simply by listening. Do not assume they know how to listen to you properly. Provide examples of gestures or behaviors that would suggest they are listening to you. Sometimes, pointing out what is obvious is exactly what people need to make a change.
Usually, it’s not fair to give your partner an ultimatum. But, if you’ve talked to them about your concerns more than once and nothing has changed, it’s okay to take action. Show them what will happen if they don’t start listening. Maybe you stop doing household chores or going out to eat with them, etc. If it feels like a relationship deal breaker make them aware of this.
Asserting yourself is not always easy to put into practice, but it can be very effective.
If your partner is struggling to really hear you or you don’t know how to make your voice be heard, you don’t have to deal with it alone. Schedule a free consultation or visit my relationship counseling page to learn more if you’re worried about the state of your relationship. By working on communicative skills together, we can make your relationship stronger and healthier than ever.