It can be hard sometimes to feel truly heard by your partner. They may seem distracted, like their thoughts are elsewhere. Even when you talk to each other, you may feel like the true meaning of your words isn’t understood.
You shouldn’t blame yourself or your partner for these difficulties; after all, we usually aren’t taught how to listen for the deeper issues that lie beneath the surface of words. However, knowing how to make your partner listen to you is a necessary skill in a relationship.
Here, then, are 11 ways to talk to your partner so that they can truly understand you, and respond to you in ways that deepen your relationship.
1. Listen to yourself.
As with all aspects of love, success requires us to start with ourselves first. You can make your partner listen to you when you know that you are worth listening to. You have the right to make your voice heard in your relationship.
2. Be patient.
Sometimes, your partner will hurt or disappoint you, even if it’s unintentional. They might neglect something that’s important to you, or be insensitive towards you when they’re preoccupied with something else. When this happens, you might find yourself having bitter and resentful thoughts about them. Resist the urge to assume that your partner has bad motives. The process of making your partner listen to you needs to start from a place of faith and trust.
3. Go beyond the surface.
Seeking a deeper connection with your partner will require you to talk about more than just a recap of recent events in your life. Our feelings are the bridge that connects us to each other. Instead of focusing on superficial, factual descriptions, tell your partner how you felt when certain things happened, and what they meant to you. This lets your partner know that you entrust them with your innermost thoughts and feelings, and invites them into a dialogue where they can do the same with you.
4. Explain, don’t insist.
Have you ever experienced the frustration of voicing your opinions and feelings over and over, only to realize that your partner isn’t listening at all? It may be your first instinct to repeat yourself, but if you fail to explain why the issue is so important to you, your partner won’t be able to understand what you need.
5. Keep the conversation on track.
This is especially important when you’re having a disagreement with your partner, or tackling a sensitive subject. Stay on topic with the thread of your conversation, even if related events from the past keep coming up in your mind. Too many conversations begin with something simple like “It’s your turn to wash the dishes,” and culminate in disastrous arguments, with both sides throwing accusations at each other, and completely forgetting the original (very minor) problem.
You need to express your thoughts as clearly and simply as possible to ensure that your partner can listen to you.
6. Have the courage to show your vulnerability.
Doing this is gratifying to your partner. It shows them that you trust them. We often feel like people want to listen to us only when we’re talking about the fun, interesting parts of our lives, but this isn’t the case with people who truly love you. Your abilities may be impressive, but vulnerability builds relationships. Remember that it’s natural to seek reassurance in a relationship, and make an effort to give it back to your partner too.
7. Relate your struggles to those of your partner’s.
Your partner needs to know that their own problems find kinship and understanding in your own. Listening to someone is easy when you know that you can empathize with each other. We’re all surviving in this harsh world together, and having someone’s hand to hold can make all the difference.
8. Control your temper.
Explosive anger is characterized by behaviors of panic and agitation, and fueled by feelings of hurt and betrayal. It might be embarrassing to admit, but most of us have lost our temper at least once in our lives. No one can affect us emotionally as much as the ones we truly love, because we allow ourselves to trust them and depend on them. When we feel that this trust is broken, it can catapult us into uncontrolled anger.
Although it’s understandable to feel angry, acting out is never the solution. Your partner will refuse to listen, and nothing further can be achieved. To help your partner listen to you, own your feelings – but own your actions, too.
9. Avoid sulking.
Another extreme behavior is sulking. The person who sulks says nothing, but feels deep anger inwardly. Sulking is often an effort to make your partner notice you, but actually fuels the despair that your partner will never really listen to you. It’s a barrier to communication and isolates you from receiving the care and attention that you want.
Withdrawal may feel like self-protection, but it also takes away any chances for your partner to listen to you. Instead, make an effort to face the problems in your relationships head-on.
10. Be straightforward.
The best way to avoid either explosive anger or silent sulking is by being straightforward all the time. When you don’t like your partner’s behavior, let them know right away – politely but firmly. When you need your partner’s help, don’t pretend that everything’s all right until you can no longer deny the seriousness of the problem.
Agreeing with everything your partner wants, even if you’re not completely happy with it, means that you’re unsure of what really matters to you. Conflicting desires and feelings in your mind have to be resolved so that you can express yourself with honesty and certainty.
Also read: How to be Honest in a Relationship: 12 Ways
11. Choose the right timing.
Be realistic about your chances of having your partner listen to you. Even if your concerns are legitimate, bringing them up when your partner is tired or overwhelmed with tasks will likely mean that cannot pay attention to you. This can make it seem like they’re not willing to listen to you, when it’s actually just the situation. The right time and place are worth the wait for a productive and meaningful conversation.
You can make it easy for your partner to listen to you.
The desire to be listened to can be so strong sometimes, that we can forget our partner’s feelings. But the fact is that people don’t listen when they’re told, especially when they’re being berated or accused. Rather, people listen when they have a sense of being loved and understood.
Most of the time, your partner might already have a sense of the things you want to say to them, and need only to feel safe enough to admit that they agree with you – especially about their shortcomings in your relationship, which can be painful to acknowledge.
Knowing how to build an environment of trust and openness in your relationship will invite your partner to listen to you with the compassion and attentiveness that you need. The deeper connection you long for is just waiting for you to make the right choices to build it.