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Improve Communication

"You Never Listen to Me!": Relationship Advice to Improve Communication and Connection
By Susie and Otto Collins

Julia needs to talk with her live-in boyfriend Chris about something important. She is really worried about her sister who seems to have a drug problem.

Julia would like his support in deciding what - if
anything-- she should do about it.

The trouble is, Chris seems to have a habit of zoning out or multi-tasking whenever Julia wants to talk with him about something serious like this. From Julia's perspective, it seems like Chris doesn't care or that he can't handle weighty conversations.

This perceived tendency has been frustrating for Julia.

She usually doesn't bother to share her difficult feelings with Chris because it seems to her that he won't listen or engage anyway. But now that
Julia's sister has asked to move in with them, this affects Chris as well. Julia desperately needs him to be involved.

Do you ever feel like your partner or spouse "never" listens to you?

Perhaps you know that there are times when your mate does, indeed, seem to hear what you are saying. But, for the most part, you might
feel ignored.

It may even seem to you that what you are saying is a lower priority than other things going on-- like, for example, his or her work, your kids, your dog, the ball game, the home improvement
show, the newspaper, etc.

When one or both of you feel that you aren't being listened to, distance can begin to form in your relationship.

Close connections in relationships are absolutely built upon a mutual feeling of appreciation and knowing that you and what you have to say are both significant.

Too often, the sense that you are not being listened to can fuel expectations that are already present in the relationship.

A belief that your partner is not there for you when you need him or her and an expectation that you cannot trust your mate to follow through are both serious signs of trouble in a relationship.

So what can you do about it?

One thing that you can't do about your partner who seems to "never" listen to you is to change his or her behavior. As appealing as it sounds, you cannot make another person change.

But there are ways that you can positively affect this dynamic that has formed in your relationship.

Be an attentive listener.
As much as you believe that you are always present and engaged when your partner is speaking, you might be doing just as much zoning out and multi-tasking as he or she is doing.

t is quite common for us to become irritated with the people in our lives for habits that we
ourselves have.

Practice what you are wanting from your mate. Whenever possible, set down your cell phone, turn away from the computer or television and really listen to what your mate has to say.

Ask for your partner's attention.
Rather than walking into the room and expecting your partner to immediately drop everything and listen with rapt attention to you, make a request to have a conversation.

Be aware that your mate might have had a long day at work and he or she could be feel tapped out at the moment. But in an hour, however, your partner could be a bit rested and more available to listen more fully.

When Julia thinks about it, she does usually barge into the room already talking about what's on her mind. Chris works long hours and has a very emotionally draining job. When he is "zoned out,"
sometimes it is his way of recouping after a challenging day.

Julia has started to wait before speaking when she enters the room intending to talk with Chris.

She'll sit beside him and ask him if he would be available to talk with her sometime later that evening.  She can let him know that she really needs his input about her sister, for example, and together they can set up a time that works for them both.

When making agreements, make sure you are both on the same page. 
If an agreement is involved in the communicating you want to do with your partner, it's particularly important that you both are present and engaged.

Don't assume that your mate is fully understanding what you have said if you are expecting him or her to follow through with a particular action.

After Julia and Chris have communicated about Julia's sister's situation, Julia needs to be clear about Chris' feelings about her sister possibly moving in with them.

It is vital that they come to some agreement that they both can live with.

Chris might ask Julia how long she anticipates her sister would stay with them. Is this a permanent arrangement or could they set a time limit?

Julia can ask Chris to talk about his specific concerns with this possible change. Is it her sister's drug habit that concerns Chris most or is he worried about a possible lack of privacy
having a roommate?

With these questions, they can both better understand the other person's perspective.

Once they have come to a decision, Julia and Chris can repeat back to one another the arrangement they are both open to at this time so that misunderstandings are less likely to occur.

Connecting communication in relationships is a skill that takes practice.

Both you and your partner can benefit from feeling heard and also from listening with attentiveness so keep trying and be sure to notice when you experience successes along the way.







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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins
PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling 614-459-8121.
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