Communication in a marriage is vital to its success. But what happens when you’re trying to communicate but your spouse won’t? It can be a frustrating situation when you try to have a conversation with your significant other, and they don’t hear you or don’t understand. However, there are some things that you can do to get your spouse to understand you.


Persistence Doesn’t Always Pay

Would you keep slamming your head into a brick wall if it were in front of you? No, of course not. So, why would you constantly try to attack and harass your spouse if they haven’t heard your message the first few times? It might sound crazy, but that’s what we often do when we can’t get through to people; we talk louder and angrier because we think that’s what will finally work.

The problem with this approach is that it never works. It will only serve to push them further away because they feel attacked. Yelling at your spouse isn’t communication; it’s abuse, and people get defensive in those situations.

The best approach to this situation is to try and have an honest conversation. Try asking more questions to find out why your spouse isn’t willing to communicate. You should seek to understand before seeking to be understood. Be conscious of your tone of voice and the body language you use during these conversations. Try not to sound like you’re accusing your partner of anything but that you’re genuinely curious about their answers.


Your Spouse’s Answers Aren’t Debatable

Expressing curiosity about why your spouse won’t listen or understand you is a fact-finding mission. All you’re looking to do at this point is to gather information. If you attack their response when they start to open up to you, you’ll lose their trust, and they likely won’t be honest with you again.

For example, maybe you’re trying to speak with your spouse because you feel like you haven’t been compatible in the bedroom lately. Your end goal should be to listen to your spouse’s needs so you can improve your intimacy. They may not feel comfortable discussing their sexual desires openly, and attacking their responses will only worsen it.

Be prepared not to like all of the answers your spouse will give. While the two of you were compatible enough to marry, it doesn’t mean that they think, act, and feel the same way that you do in every situation. Even if you hear something you don’t like, it’s still better than not knowing the truth. And so, rather than attacking or panicking when this happens, be thankful you have finally opened up communication to get to the root of the problem. This doesn’t mean you won’t feel negative emotions; it just means you should be prepared to control them.

These conversations need to happen in the right environment. Any serious discussion, especially private ones like in the previous example, should be done in a relaxed and comfortable environment. This isn’t a conversation that you should have while the TV is on and the kids are running around playing. 

How To Get My Spouse To Understand Me

Why Is It Scary To Know What The Real Problem Is?

People seem to be afraid of the truth when they think the truth might be bad. There are numerous reasons why someone might be scared to know the honest truth. Fear of rejection is a major one. It’s also very difficult to deal with harsh feedback, especially from someone you trust and love. Furthermore, you might be afraid of how it might impact your overall relationship.

A fundamental psychological principle called the reinforcement theory is that positive reinforcement will always work better than negative reinforcement or punishment. So, when your spouse does something positive that you’ve discussed they should change, be sure that you show appreciation for that. The same positive reinforcement should be used when they finally open up and begin having conversations with you.

At Marriage Helper, we often encourage people to be open and explain how they feel. But, in this case, we suggest you only present your side of things or your feelings when you feel like you have adequately listened to your spouse and that they are ready to listen to you. You can’t draw your own conclusions about the situation before you even have the conversation. Instead, actively ask questions to get the conversations started to understand your spouse’s feelings first.


May I Tell You How I Feel?

After your spouse has finally opened up to you and you understand their feelings, you can ask them for permission to share how you feel. Why is it a good idea to ask permission first? Asking their permission to share your feelings gives them the opportunity to agree to what comes next and to agree to listen to you as well. It helps to soften the situation.

These conversations are not easy. Putting your ego and feelings aside to honestly listen to your spouse takes skillful practice. They may feel anger towards you, but you can’t respond in kind. Instead, load your arsenal with coping tools like deep breathing or even the ability to calmly walk away from the situation momentarily. You’ll find that having better control of your emotions will produce a much better outcome during these conversations.

If you want to learn more about a better system of communication, download our FREE eBook about “SMART Communication” here.

If you want to take a deeper dive into SMART Communication and learn principles to apply to your marriage, we have developed a tool called the Smart Contact Toolkit. The series of videos are primarily for people who are not having any communication with their spouse. However, the principles in the videos can still be very applicable to situations like these. You can get the SMART Contact Toolkit here.

Lack of communication in your marriage can lead to much larger issues. Take the time to understand how your spouse is feeling, control your emotions, and you’ll be back on the love path in no time.