Six Reasons Couples Don’t Listen to Each Other

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Ever noticed how we sometimes can’t recall the birthday of a loved one, but we can’t quite forget every word of the Brady Bunch theme song. Why is that?

Well, research reveals that adding music helps our recall (consider how we teach little ones their A-B-Cs through a song).

Unfortunately, most of us can’t get our spouse to sing a conversation to us – or would we want that. Weird, for sure.

So what can we do to heighten our conversational engagement and truly tune into each other? In a word, listen. And foundational to this task is increasing our awareness of what keeps us from listening.

Here’s a list:

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  • Defensiveness  — Viewing complaints and criticism as a personal attack. Once you become defensive, once you begin to guard yourself, you are no longer listening.
  • Closed-mindedness —  Unwilling to consider the opinions and ideas of others. If you’ve already made up your mind and closed the case, you’ll never open your ears.
  • Projection — Attributing your own thoughts and feelings to the other person. Once you lose objectivity and believe “he’s the one whose angry,” when you’re the one who is actually hot under the collar, you’ll never hear what’s being said.
  • Assumption — Drawing conclusions about the meaning or intention of what is said. Whenever you jump to conclusions, you convey a message that you aren’t even interested in listening.
  • Distractions —  Cell phones, TV, iPads, magazines, and all the rest. Duh! But it bears reminding you. If you want to truly listen to each other, you’ve got to remove these distractions.

The fundamental cause of almost all communication problems is that people do not listen to understand — they listen to reply.

But get this: The moment your spouse feels understood, they become more motivated to understand your point of view.

Copyright © 2014 Les and Leslie Parrott

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About Les Parrott

Les ParrottLes Parrott III, Ph.D., is founder of RealRelationships.com and a Professor of Psychology at Seattle Pacific University. He is also co-creator, with his wife Leslie, of eHarmony Marriage. Les is an award-winning author of more than a dozen best-selling books including High-Maintenance Relationships, The Control Freak, 3 Seconds, Becoming Soul Mates, Your Time Starved Marriage and Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts.
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