Communication sets the rhythm and tone in your relationship. Yet, there are many times when the tune sounds out of sync and discordant, leaving us feeling like our partner isn’t truly hearing us. Feeling unheard is frustrating and disheartening, but it’s a challenge that many couples face. In this blog post, I’m going to focus on the dynamics of not feeling heard in your relationship and explore effective strategies on how you can bridge this communication gap.
The Importance of Feeling Heard
Quality communication isn’t just about speaking words, it’s the equal exchange, the give and take that results in understanding and feeling connected on a deeper level. Feeling heard is an essential emotional need in any relationship. It validates our feelings, experiences, and perspectives, making us feel valued and understood. When this need isn’t met, it can lead to misunderstandings, resentment, and even a sense of isolation.
Understanding the Causes
- Listening Styles: People have different listening styles. Some may be problem solvers, offering solutions, while others might be empathetic listeners who provide emotional support. These differences can create miscommunication if not acknowledged.Your listening style has to always shift based on your partner’s needs in that moment.
- Assumptions and Expectations: We often assume that our partner should intuitively understand our needs and thoughts. This can set unrealistic expectations. Neither you nor your partner are mind readers and making assumptions about your partner’s intent without that quality communication sets you (and them) up for disappointment.
- Distractions: We are assaulted by distractions throughout our day. Phones, work, social media, work and family obligations become daily stressors that hijack genuine, focused conversations.
- Unresolved Issues: Unresolved conflicts fester, grow and cast a dark shadow over communication. When previous disagreements aren’t handled quickly and intentionally, they resurface and create emotional barriers and separation between you and your partner.
- Communication Patterns: Negative communication patterns, like interrupting, listening to speak instead of understanding, or defensiveness, derail conversations and prevent us from truly listening to understand and hear each other.
Effective Strategies for Feeling Heard
- Create a Safe Space: Establish a safe and judgment-free environment that invites open communication. Make it clear that both of your opinions are valued and respected and deserve to be expressed. Refrain from casting judgment or blame when your partner shares how they are feeling. There are always two viewpoints in a relationship and they are both right!
- Practice Active Listening: Put away distractions, give your full attention when your partner speaks. Reflect back what you’ve heard to your partner in your own words and what you think you’ve heard until they validate your understanding.
- Express Expectations: Share your communication preferences and needs with your partner by saying:’For us to have good communication in our relationship (or on this issue) I need…’. Understanding how each of you need to communicate alleviates misunderstandings and creates more trust and security.
- Use “I” Statements: Frame your thoughts using “I” statements to express your own feelings without placing blame or pointing an accusatory or judging finger back at your partner . For example, say “I feel unheard when…” instead of “You never listen.”
- Choose the Right Time: Timing matters. Avoid important discussions during moments of stress, when tempers are high or when either of your basic physical or emotional needs are not being met.*(Think H.A.L.T = Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired).
- Empathy is Key: Show empathy by trying to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and imagine what they are feeling in that moment- even if you don’t agree. This validates their feelings, helps you better understand their emotional & physical state and encourages more open dialogue.
- Understanding Over Winning: Focus on understanding issues rather than “winning” an argument. It is a win for the relationship, the ‘Us’ when you reach understanding-even when you agree to disagree on an issue. The goal should be understanding, growth and connection through respecting their current position, not proving one’s point.
- Seek Help: If communication breakdowns persist, seeking help from a relationship therapist or coach can provide an objective perspective and effective tools for you to work through communication break-downs.
Feeling unheard in your relationship can be a challenging hurdle to overcome, but it’s not insurmountable.. By understanding the underlying causes, practicing active, empathetic communication, and committing to create a safe and supportive space, you strengthen your connection by effectively bridging the communication gap.
Every relationship has unique dynamics, and finding what works best for both partners is a journey that requires patience, understanding, and dedication. Through honest, open, and loving dialogue, you can cultivate a relationship where both partners feel genuinely heard, understood, and cherished.
Until next time. Remember, happily after doesn’t just happen. It’s on purpose!