3 Tips for Getting Your Partner to Listen to You

During stressful conversations, communication in relationships can go one of two ways.  It can escalate both partners, meaning both people’s feelings become more and more negative, the stress response increases, hearts beat faster, arguing ensues…OR, it can de-escalate, meaning that certain attempts to keep things calm actually work, and you and your partner can get through the conversation relatively unscathed (probably even solve a couple problems!)

In therapy, we work with couples on how to de-escalate all the time, and generally it’s the small details and the way you say things that are going to help with this.  We want to set the stage for your partner to listen to you and make a plan to help meet your needs! When conversations go awry with conflict this becomes impossible. Therapy is a great forum for learning and practicing how to turn arguments into problem-solving discussions – but for now, here are 3 tips to keep discussions healthy that you can try at home!

  1. Ditch the attackI’m sure you know by now it’s not working, but it can be very difficult to contain frustration if you feel ignored or rejected, and sometimes, that comes out in the worst possible way.  If your partner feels jumped all over, you aren’t going to get the response you’re looking for. Practice softening your way of asking to talk, or making a request instead of a demand.
  2. Use appreciation OFTENever responded better to your partner when they include all the GREAT things you do when they are also asking you to do something differently?  That’s because you don’t feel like you’re not good enough before the conversation even begins! Use “thank yous” and “I love it when you….but, I’d like…etc etc”, and so on and so forth, to make sure your partner knows that for every one thing you don’t like, there is a lot that you are thankful for as well.
  3. Set boundaries – and actually follow throughmean what you say when it comes to what you need from your partner.  This can occur without being rude or critical, and it shows your partner that you don’t want to be taken advantage of.  If you’re making requests or setting boundaries because there are legitimate needs you have that are not being fulfilled, that’s great! Just make sure you are prepared to follow through on them so your partner takes you seriously.  Setting boundaries is healthy and expected in solid relationships.

Call us to schedule a consultation or appointment if your conversations are escalating too quickly, leading to conflict that is hard to resolve!  There are ways to change this so that you and your partner communicate more effectively, and feel closer as a result. You have the power to change your relationship!