My Husband Says I Don't Listen To Him: Steps To Becoming A Better Listener

"You never listen to me...I've asked you a thousand times to let me know when you can't pick the kids up from daycare!"

In my work with couples, it is common to hear one person accuse the other of "not listening." This usually takes the following form:

1. You ask your partner to do something that is important to you;

2. For a period of time your partner follows-through on your request;

3. At some point your partner becomes less consistent in his/her follow-through;

4. Your partner's inconsistency increases until there is no trace that you've ever made a request;

5. Steps 1-4 are repeated and frustrations mount. A large percentage of marriage problems can be traced back to this pattern.

Relationship Problems: A lack of message adhesiveness

It's a simple fact: you (and your partner) have a limited ability to hold onto information-and our fast-paced, hectic, information-overload world just adds to the dilemma. What does this mean to your relationship? If you listen to thirty different things throughout the course of your day, you may only remember five of them a week later. Some information is more adhesive and more likely to stick in your memory, whereas other information will enter your mind one moment and seem to mysteriously vanish the next.

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Because of this fact, your goal as the listener is to increase the adhesiveness of your partner's message so the information becomes a permanent entry in your mental Rolodex.

It is the responsibility of both the speaker and listener to increase the chances that communication brings about the desired outcome. So whether you are making a request or being asked to do something, there are steps you can take to increase the likelihood that your message will both hit the mark and remain in place.

Relationship Help: 3 ways for you (as the listener) to increase message adhesiveness

1. Ask for clarification about a request

Asking for clarification serves several important purposes: It helps you get a better sense of what the speaker needs and at the same time it sends the message that you are interested and want to understand what your partner has to say.

This will make your partner feel that you are fully engaged in the dialogue.

2. Translate the message/request into concrete action steps

As the listener, you need to take the words being directed at you and use them to shape your behavior in a new way. When your partner needs something from you (whether it is to "communicate more"; "listen better"; "be more responsible"), in essence you are being asked to do something different: to either add a new behavior that is absent or stop a behavior that is unwelcome...or both.

So each message you hear should lead you to think about the specific behavior change you need to make in order to fulfill your partner's request.

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3. Rehearse and build on your partner's message

As the listener, one of your jobs is to make sure the request gets stored on your mental hard-drive and that you have permanent and easy access to the information. You don't want to continuously fail in the all-important department of reliable follow-through because it keeps slipping your mind. The "I forgot" excuse gets old fast.

One way to increase your follow-through is to rehearse the essential part of your partner's message. All rehearsal involves repetition. You repeat the message (either to yourself or out loud) over and over again until it becomes more adhesive. This is how people prepare for interviews; how actors memorize movie scripts; how teachers learn the lesson plans they teach; how students learn new information.

Another way to bolster message adhesiveness is to write down what you need to remember. There are two ways this is helpful:

a. You can write reminders to yourself as a memory aide;
b. You can rehearse the message by repeatedly writing it.

Messages are more likely to be remembered when they are personalized-you do this by building and expanding on your partner's message.

For instance, if you agree to work on becoming a "better listener," you can tell yourself: "I want to be the best spouse I can, so I will work on being more attentive while listening" or "When I really listen to my partner, s/he feels understood and cared for, so it's a win-win for us both. I will make it a top priority."

Notice how in each of these examples, rather than simply repeat what your partner needs from you, you expand on the message in a way that makes your follow-through more personal and meaningful-after all, don't you want to be the best spouse/partner you can possibly be?

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Marriage requires work if you want a good one.

But the unfortunate thing is that most people don't realize how much work it really takes. So when tough times hit, they either run to divorce court or try to navigate blindly through and become miserable, bitter, and resentful during the process.

With this being said, as women we play a major role in making the marriage relationship work.

While your husband has a responsibility as well, you can only be responsible for what you can do.

And when it comes to handling your marriage problems, your approach often dictates the outcome of your relationship. In fact, the way you deal with your problems in marriage depends on what type of wife you decide to be.

There are 3 types of wives.

They include the:

• Complaining wife
• Misguided wife
• Committed wife

Read the following descriptions to figure out which category you fit into.

The complaining wife tends to focus on the bad stuff in her marriage. She will talk to whomever will listen to her vent about her problems. This type of woman is susceptible to infidelity because she is capable of attaching herself to her listener.

Because she's so focused on the faults of her husband, she refuses to deal with her own issues. It's never her, but her husband is always the problem and she's always the victim. She nags and fusses with and about her husband, but she refuses to do anything to change herself.

The misguided wife, on the other hand recognizes that she needs to change and she actually does seek help... but in all the wrong places!

Her resources are bitter girlfriends, reality TV shows about housewives, and trashy novels that paint an unrealistic picture of what a good man should be.

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The misguided wife's activities are similar to a person who knows they need to go grocery shopping to get food for a balanced meal. But instead of taking the time and effort of making a shopping list, and clipping coupons, she instead goes to the bathroom, kneels down, and sticks her head into the toilet hoping to find her nutritious balanced meal there.

This sounds absurd, but the misguided wife really doesn't want to change. She's just going to the wrong resources hoping her husband will notice so HE can change. And while she knows she does have issues, she refuses to deal with them because after all, her husband has more issues than her.

The committed wife is unique and rare. The committed wife has many of the same marriage problems as the complaining wife and the misguided wife, but her approach to these problems is very different.

She loves, honors, and respects her husband despite his attitude.

While the committed wife gets frustrated and is often tempted to complain, in most cases she doesn't. She's learned to replace her negative thoughts with positive ones. She does this by focusing on the good areas of her marriage and her husband.

And she recognizes that both she and her husband have issues, but instead of trying to fix her husband, she seeks out proper resources by connecting with sensible, objective girlfriends who have her best interest. These girlfriends also hold her accountable by telling her where she can improve. Also the committed wife seeks out good resources like books, marriage conferences, and helpful websites. The committed wife is happy on a consistent basis because she refuses to let life, her husband, or her circumstances prevent her from becoming a great wife.

Marriage requires work on both parts, but as a wife you're only responsible for what you can do. The way to handle marriage is based on your approach and the type of wife you are. There are three types of wives: the complaining wife, the misguided wife, and the committed wife. Each one approaches marriage differently.

In most cases, the complaining and misguided wives will walk down the road to marriage destruction and ultimately divorce if they refuse to change their approaches to marriage. But the committed wife will maintain a stronger, healthier, spicier marriage with a husband who celebrates her. The committed wife also takes responsibility for her actions and takes action to get help.

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We've all heard the statistics about marriages and divorce. And it is true that about 50% of all marriages end in divorce. Most of us though, just don't expect to be on the losing side of that equation! Here is a statistic though, that you might not have been aware of: Traditional marriage counseling only has about a 20% success rate is saving those troubled marriages. That's right, for every 10 couples who see a marriage counselor and hope that counselor can save their marriage, 8 of them get divorced!

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This might explain why despite your best efforts to save your marriage, you are still facing a divorce! It might also explain why our divorce rate is so high. The fact remains, that millions of marriages could have been saved if only the couples would have taken a different approach. There is a step by step approach to saving marriages that has been featured on Dateline NBC, because it is completely different in its approach than the stuff being taught by most "marriage counselors." The results of this approach? 90% success rate! That's right; 90% of the couples who use this approach are still married and it works even when they were originally planning to divorce!

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Marriage reconciliation - the initial approach.

We have normally found in our profession as relationship counselors that the approach for assistance involving a marital break up is initiated by only one of the ex partners - sometimes the man but more often the woman.

It is our view that in the interests of restoring the marriage to a sound footing it is often better to work initially with the partner who made the approach as they have already demonstrated a willingness to reconcile.

Be honest with yourself.

The first step to reconciling your marital relationship is to analyze just what went wrong in your marriage and then determine whether or not it's possible to repair the relationship.

You must be scrupulously honest with yourself about the reason(s) for the marital difficulties which led to the break up. If you just fudge things and are not prepared to air, or admit to yourself, the reasons for your troubled relationship, (and the part that you may have played in it) then if you do manage to get back together the chances are that you will just head down the same path as previously with no hope for a permanent reconciliation.

If there are some negative things that you have decided you need to change in the interests of reconciliation, for example, your attitude, demeanor, lack of compromise or forgiveness and so on, then it is important that you do so.

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Approaching your ex partner.

This is considered by most to be the hard part. There are several ways of accomplishing this.

* The casual approach at a place that you are aware that your ex frequents.

* Write, text or email asking for a meeting over a coffee etc.

* Have a friend act as an intermediary to set up a meeting to discuss matters of mutual interest. (This is our favored approach).

It is advantageous at the initial meeting with your ex to simply keep the discussion super cool. Cover superficial matters only, unless you are drawn into a deeper conversation by you ex, then go with the flow, he/she may be just as keen as you are for a reconciliation. Otherwise just lay the ground work for a further meeting at which you can carefully weave the matter of a second try into the conversation.

Our names are Brad and Michelle Ritchie. We are a married couple and are both relationship counselors having been in practice together since 1988.

We have written this brief item (which is covered in much greater depth on our website) to assist couples restore a marital relationship that is going through troubled times.

Saying or doing the wrong thing can actually cause your spouse to feel even more distant from you. You can make your spouse fall back in love with you, all over again.

You don't have to worry about whether your spouse is on the brink of asking you for a divorce. You can control the situation and use specific techniques to naturally make them fall hopelessly in love with you.


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Author's Bio: 

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