How Do I Make My Partner Feel Heard?

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Making your partner feel heard can be as simple as following a few crucial rules. If you can put these principles into practice right, your relationship can improve overnight.

Even if you had trouble in the past, these five communication rules can help you make your spouse feel more heard and cherished:

  1. Don’t give unsolicited advice or get in his/her business
  2. Only interrupt in two special cases (Find out which below)
  3. Create genuine interest in your partner
  4. Try to understand his/her point of view
  5. Don’t criticize or judge your spouse
Be warned: These five rules must be applied properly. If you don’t understand how they work with your relationship dynamic, it can make the misunderstandings and drama worse. That’s why we break it down step-by-step below.
 

Want to know how to make your partner feel heard and loved? And which common mistakes to avoid from now on? Read on for the practical guide that can change your relationship today.

 
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 Don’t Give Unsolicited Advice

‘You never listen!’ exclaimed Lorie in distress.
 
Surprised and confused, Jack wondered: ‘What does she mean?’ He just gave his wife the perfect solution to her problems! 
 
Does that sound familiar? 

Your partner comes to you with an issue and you think they want a solution. But in reality, they only want a listening ear. What’s the best way to approach this situation?
 

Here’s what not to do:

Her: ‘My boss is such a bitch. Can you believe it?’

Him: ‘Why, what happened?’ 

Her: ‘Today I was late to work again by five minutes. She got so angry at me. Doesn’t she understand that I’m not perfect?’

Him: ‘Well, don’t you think it’d be good to be on time? Maybe set your alarm ten minutes earlier?’


His intention
: Help his partner to not get in trouble again and avoid this uncomfortable dynamic with her boss. 

 

What’s wrong with that? 

The intention isn’t wrong. But has your partner asked for your help? No. You just assumed that they don’t know how to solve the problem. 

Her intention: Vent her frustration. It’s a way of processing the day for her. 

How to best handle this scenario:

Her: ‘My boss is such a bitch. Can you believe it?’

Him: ‘Why, what happened?’

Her: ‘I was late to work again today by five minutes. She got so angry at me. Doesn’t she understand that I’m not perfect?’

Him: ‘Yeah, it must be frustrating to have your boss on your case first thing in the morning.’

Her: ‘Yes! I haven’t even set foot into the office yet and I’m already getting bombarded with her angry fit.’

In this scenario he’s empathizing with her and making a statement about how he thinks she’s feeling. This accomplishes two things:

  1. He lets her know that he’s with her.
  2. He’s taking a guess at how she feels and trying to understand how the situation is for her.

Number two is important because he might be wrong with his assumption. If he is, she’ll correct him and he’ll know more about how she actually feels.

Mistakes to avoid:

 

We might misinterpret this rule to mean that we always have to just listen. That’s not the case. If you want to give advice, do it. However, check in with your partner first! Otherwise you’ll just end up in a fight.

Here are some practical ways to do it:

  1. ‘Would you like to find a way so your boss doesn’t get angry anymore?’ 
  2. ‘Would you like my input on this?’
  3. ‘I feel like this really troubles you, do you want to solve this together?’

The last suggestion gives your partner the feeling that you’re empathizing with them and then offering to find a solution.

By asking for permission to share your perspective, you give your partner a choice. They are in power and can either accept or reject your offer. If you don’t ask for permission, you are valuing your opinion and decision over your spouse’s.

Do you see how asking for consent is much more empowering for your partner?

Just implementing this will make a huge difference. Next, let’s break down a rule that most people don’t follow. 

It’s a popular pet-peeve that can drive your partner crazy and make them feel disrespected. Read on to find out how to reduce this common annoyance and have better connections with your partner instead.

 

An exceptional relationship takes an exceptional commitment.- Natasha & Jachym Jerie

Don’t Interrupt

Him: ‘I was late for work…’

Her: ‘You have to stop being late’

Him: ‘Yeah… well, my boss got really angry and…’

Her: ‘See? That’s what happens when you’re late. It is a really bad habit.’

 
In this scenario, she isn’t giving her partner any impression that she’s listening. The whole time she’s busy interrupting and voicing her opinion rather than letting him speak. 

When you constantly interrupt your spouse, you’re telling them that what they’re saying is unimportant. This can make communication unnecessarily difficult. 


Here’s what to do instead:

  1. Give them space so they can finish what they want to say. 
  2. Pay attention to them and how they are speaking.
  3. Feel what’s happening in your partner. Are they upset? Happy? Distressed? 
  4. Be comfortable with silence. 
  5. Give them your undivided attention. No phone checking.


Mistakes to avoid:


So basically I have to shut up and let them talk? 

No. 

You’re having a conversation with your spouse, which is a two-way street. We’re just bringing awareness to a behavior that might have become an unconscious habit. If your recurring interruptions are unintentional, then it’s a good idea to start following this rule.

Because successful communication needs sufficient space for each person to express themselves. The goal here is to strike a good balance. For example, it’s important to contribute and show your partner that you’re following what he/she is saying.

Here are a few cases where you do want to interrupt:

  1. If you don’t understand your spouse, interrupt them and tell them that they have lost you. 
  2. Ask questions to really understand what your partner is saying. If you’re actually interested in what is being said, you’ll naturally have questions for them. 
  3. If you are busy and not able to absorb what they are saying, interrupt them and tell them to postpone this conversation until you can give them your undivided attention.
  4. If they talk too much and you’re getting overloaded.
  5. If your partner starts blaming you.

This rule is wonderful to build upon the respect that you have for each other. Now, what happens if you’re stuck in a conversation that you have no interest in? Do you interrupt your partner or is there a better solution? Read on to find out.

 

Be Interested in What They Share


You’re falling asleep at the dining table.

Her lips keep moving, but you can’t even keep your eyes open.

What should you do now? Your spouse keeps talking about things that you don’t care about, but you feel that should listen to them.

Let’s break it down:

Her: ‘I went to get my nails done today with my friend, we had such an awesome time.’

He: ‘Uh huh.’ Crap, how do I get her to stop talking about this? I really don’t care about her friend. 

Her: ‘Janice told me how Jennifer has cheated on her husband, can you believe it?’

He: ‘Really?’ This is going to drag on forever. I can scrap my evening plans now.

 
What’s wrong with this interaction?

  1. He isn’t present. He’s mentally absorbed in how much he dislikes the conversation.
  2. He isn’t honest and lets the conversation drag on, wishing that it’d be over soon.

How can you better handle such a situation?


Solution 1

Tell your partner that the topics they bring up don’t interest you.

Here’s how you can do it:

‘I know that this is really important to you, but I just can’t relate to what you’re saying. When you start talking about this topic, my brain just starts shutting off. It’s not that I’m not interested in you. You’re really important to me and I’d love to spend time with you in a way that will deepen our relationship. What do you think we can do about this?’

 

What are the benefits of this approach?

  1. You’re honest with your spouse which fosters trust. 
  2. You show that you care about them and your relationship. 
  3. You’re asking to find a solution together. 

Be careful not to be too blunt and shut your partner off. Understand that your spouse might have just come to you with something really important to them. If you’re unsure, bring the topic up in a separate conversation.

Solution 2

Get interested in your spouse. 

Your partner’s sharing something because it’s important to them. Find out why that is:

Her: ‘I went to get my nails done today with my friend, we had such an awesome time.’

Him: ‘Sounds like you had a fun time. What about this experience did you really like?’

Her: ‘I love spending time with Janice and having some girl time, while making myself pretty’

Him: ‘That’s hard for me to understand, I don’t really like to be pretty. But tell me about Janice, why do you like being with her?’

 

Do you see how different this interaction is? You’re guiding it in a direction that interests you which is your partner’s likes and dislikes. You get to know your partner more deeply which will help your relationship. (for more communication skill building click here)

Just like the previous principal, you’re not powerless in any conversation. There isn’t any need to listen absent-mindedly just because you feel like you should. 

What makes both partners feel heard and respected in a relationship is that freedom to speak your mind. This rule will help you to shift any conversation into one that is mutually beneficial. Which brings us to the next crucial communication principal…

You’re the creator of your relationship, if you want to change it, it starts with you. Always.- Natasha & Jachym Jerie

Understand Their Point Of View

 

It’s the worst feeling:

You’re sharing something really important in the last few minutes. Feeling emotional from pouring your heart out, you look across to your partner for their reassurance and support. Only to see their disinterested expression. They even look lost.

Did they not follow a thing that you just said in the last 10 minutes?

Did they just ignore you at your most vulnerable moment?

Your heart breaks as you feel like they don’t care about you. Everything that you said was meaningless to them. How will you ever trust them? You don’t feel heard and respected at all.

How can you better handle such a situation?


This communication principal is to help avoid such a situation in your relationship. Whenever someone talks to you, you’ll have your own interpretation of what they said. That’s totally normal.


However, check in with your partner to see if you understood them correctly.
Don’t wait until you’re so lost and disconnected from each other to catch up again.

You don’t have to repeat what they said to you exactly.

Simply ask: ‘Are you saying that…?’

This will help you to understand their point of view and to prevent misunderstandings.It’ll making talking to your spouse about your marriage easier. Seeing things from their point of view goes beyond just getting the facts straight.

Notice if you can tell:

  • How did this event impact them?
  • How did they feel?
  • How are they feeling when they are telling you the story?
  • Have you had similar experiences?
Mistakes to avoid:
 

Be careful how you’re making meaning out of what your partner says.

Why?

Because we like to relate what we hear to our own experiences. However, your spouse’s experience is unique to them. We can miss out on important points by thinking: ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been there too.’ 

The antidote to that is curiosity.

The less you think ‘I know that already’, the more open you are to hearing something new. Your partner wants to be heard. They’re sharing with you so you get to experience the world from their perspective. Don’t take away that experience from them.

Now for the final communication principal, it’s crucial that you master it. Out of all the tips we have shared so far, not getting the next one right can have the greatest consequences. If helping your partner feel accepted and heard is important to you then read on.

Don’t Criticize Them

 

It’s very disheartening.

You go to your partner for an open ear and all they do is criticize you.

Let’s break it down:

Her: ‘I want to go out tonight.’

Him: ‘You always want to go out. Why can’t you be satisfied with staying at home?’ 

Her: ‘I just wanted us to have a good night together.’

Him: ‘Can’t we have a good night here? Do you always have to spend money to have a good time?’

Her intention: Have an intimate time with her partner. Relax and connect with each other while not having to cook. 

His intention: Stay home and save money. 

Both intentions are important. In this scenario, the man is shutting down his wife, disregarding her suggestion and assuming the worst. In response, she probably gets defensive and the conversation will go downhill from there. Instead he could acknowledge her point of view:

Her: ‘I want to go out tonight.’

Him: ‘Oh, I was thinking we’ll have a cozy night in. Why do you want to go out?’ 

Her: ‘I wanted us to have a good night together without having to worry about cooking and doing the dishes. You know, just you and me having a nice evening.’

Him: ‘Ah I see. You know we’re a bit tight with money at the moment. I’d love to go out with you too but it’s just not feasible at the moment. How about we make dinner together while listening to our favorite songs?’

In this case he acknowledges her desires and offers a different option. He also explains why he doesn’t want to go out.

Mistakes to avoid:

 

Not criticizing your partner doesn’t mean not voicing your opinion. Don’t become someone who goes along with everything your partner does or says. Sometimes we need to address things directly.

If you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, you may not even notice anymore that you criticize your partner. To avoid this harmful habit, read this article here to learn how to diagnose any unhealthy communication styles and to improve the communication in your relationship.

 

A relationship can either be a place of deep wounding or deep healing.- Natasha & Jachym Jerie

Bring It All Together

All the points we have shared go hand in hand. Practice them together and you can create a relationship where your partner feels heard and cherished. Imagine forming such strong trust and respect that they can come to you with anything. How great a difference would that make in your relationship?

Take heart, it might seem like a lot to implement but it’s so worthwhile. Following just one of the principals can completely turn a disconnected conversation into one that brings you and your spouse closer together.

What can you do next? Reflect on which of the scenarios above feels most relevant for your relationship. Take that one principal and observe what you’re doing in your relationship. Break the dialogue down like we did so you have a clear idea of what’s going on. 

We’ve shared the five communication rules so that you can nurture a loving relationship where both of you feel heard. Try to approach the situation with the best practice examples that we have given. It’s that easy.

Learn the changes.

Apply the changes.

Create the changes.

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This 25-page FREE resource helps you to break the argument cycle. Stop fighting and have more connection and trust in your marriage again.

 

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