When Couples Can’t Listen to Each Other


Sometimes when I work with couples, I see something that is hard to see. Two people who love each other who can’t hear each other. This often happens when there are two strong willed people in the relationship.

Habits That Work Well Elsewhere May Lend Poorly to Relationships

Yelling and being a jerk, like the angry business-woman pictured, may work elsewhere in life, but it does you no favors in relationships.

I know I am very strong willed. When I met my husband-to-be, I had been working on myself in my own personal counseling and I was pretty sure I was ready to meet my soulmate. And I did.

But I wasn’t prepared to give up the way I thought things should be and the outcomes I expected. In fact, I didn’t even know I was holding on to what my mind was telling me should happen.

I do remember that when things didn’t go right for me, I had a loud enough voice to lodge my complaint. And I did. I was critical about what didn’t suit me and I never thought this was something I should even think about.

Part of Being in a Relationship Is Not Always Getting Our Way

We have to make compromises in relationships, which can occasionally leave us dumbfounded like this woman pictured trying to reconcile her needs with those of her husband.

This was the way I formed myself in my early forties. I was happy with the way I could navigate life and I wanted things to go my way. I thought this was the way of the world.

But it wasn’t the way in my relationship. And I bet many people in relationships feel this way. They want things the way they want them and when that doesn’t happen, they get upset and want their partner to make everything better and right.

But that isn’t realistic. If you are alone in the relationship, then sure you can get what you want all the time. But if you are with another person, that person, your partner has his or her own ideas about what they think is best. And this situation can lead to problems.

Standoffs Where We’re Closed Off to Our Partner Hurt Both of Us

Being stuck in a standoff with a partner, like the couple pictured, can make bouncing back to the happiness of our relationship harder.

If both of you have your own ideas and both of you are able to express your thoughts to the other then you might experience some standoffs where the two of you just can’t get heard by your mate and you certainly can’t hear your partner.

These standoffs hurt both of you. You can’t get your way and your partner can’t get theirs. Both of you suffer. I know I did, even though I was the only one voicing my wants.

Learning From Each Other is the Key to a Happy Life Together

Learning from our partner, like the couple pictured in which this man draws something to his wife's attention, is the key to building a happy life with them.

I had to learn (through couples counseling) that my partner had a right to his thoughts and ideas and the relationship did not circle around just my thoughts and ideas.

I had to learn to understand what it was that my mate thought and he had to learn what it was that I liked. We had some growing to do. We had to not only learn ourselves and figure out how to ask and tell things to the other in a kindly way, we also had to understand our partner and know what they liked and disliked in order to have a happy life.

All of us want a happy life. If you are in a relationship try and remember you are only one half of that union. Your partner probably wants things too. Teach yourself to be kind to the person who loves you. Ask them what they are thinking and if they are telling you, try and listen. I know feeling understood in a relationship is one of the major traits of happy couples. We all want understanding. Try and remember that.


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'Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship.' A book by Linda Nusbaum.

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