This is why your partner doesn’t listen!

In the last blog post, I talked about one of the most common complaints that couples have about each other, when they come to see me for Relationship Coaching – feeling unheard.

I also gave a series of questions for you to reflect on, to evaluate how both you and your partner listen to each other (or not!) in your relationship. (If you missed it, click HERE).

So, if you discovered that you and your partner aren’t listening to each other as well as you could, you’re probably wondering: “so what do we do about it then?”.

Am I right?

To tackle any issue in your relationship, once you understand what’s happening (or not happening as the case may be!), it’s then important to understand why it’s happening, before attempting to resolve it. Because this all happens on a subconscious level, it can make it hard to identify the issue. If you don’t understand why the problem’s there in the first place, you can’t fix it at the root of the problem. To make lasting change in your relationship, you therefore need to work from the roots upwards. Or put another way, from the inside out.

Just dealing with the surface problem itself is like putting down weedkiller whilst planting weeds.

So, why aren’t you listening to each other? Well, allow me to explain:-

  1. We each have our own perspective. We all have our own, unique way of experiencing and interpreting the World around us. The way we relate to the World and others is shaped by our past, our environment, our experiences, our childhood. All of these factors help to create  our own, unique “lens” that we view the World through, and also the shape and “colour” of this lens.We create rules for ourselves, others people, and the World, based on the colour of the lens that we look through. The colour of your lens will affect how you interpret any given situation.
  2. We make assumptions. You ASSUME your partner has the same colour lens as you. You assume therefore that the way you see things, the way you experience things, is the way they see and experience them. 
  3. We interpret rather than listen. When your partner speaks, you start interpreting what they’re saying through your own lens. When you’re interpreting, you’re basically trying to make sense of how what they’re saying means to you. When you start interpreting therefore, you’re making it all about you, not your partner. You also only pay attention to the parts of the message that you feel are important, tuning out and missing the things that are important to your partner.
  4. Our interpretation can be wrong. As your partner has a different coloured lens to you, what they’re saying might mean something very different to them when compared to the meaning that YOU took from it.
  5. Our partner feels unheard. If the message your partner is trying to send out to you gets turned into something else, or if you don’t acknowledge parts of their message that are important to them, they feel you haven’t listened to or understood them at all.

The key to solving the problem of not listening to each other, is to recognise that you both have different coloured lenses, and that both colours are valid and beautiful. Then you can begin to learn about what it’s like to see the world through your partner’s lens, and they through yours. This can be described as building empathy.

But to do this, you need to start paying attention and LISTENING!


Don’t worry, I’m not just going to leave it there! After all, if you’ve discovered that you do have issues with listening in your relationship, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “easier said than done“! So, in the next post, I’m going to give you a fantastic tool you can use with your partner to really practice listening to each other, and highlight just how much you interpret rather than listen.  So stay tuned for the next post!

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