Everyone is inattentive sometimes. However, for some people inattention becomes a serious condition that leads to significant problems in their relationships. Times of inattention are a part of life. Your spouse is an imperfect human being… just like you.
• Being tired
• Sleep deprivation
• Being unfit
I would like to call attention to those people who – intentionally or not – flat out don’t pay close enough attention to their relationship. They let things slide past them as if their partner were not even in the room. Often a moment’s inattention can cause a lasting resentment from your partner.
When you are listening to your partner, sometimes it is natural to be distracted by the running commentary in your own head. You may find yourself engaged in your own response. You are being inattentive; you don’t actually hear what your partner is saying. Never skip over the listening stage of the conversation. This is a common complaint from women who request coaching about how to get their partner to listen to them.
It’s frustrating to suddenly realize that you’ve been talking to your partner and they haven’t heard a word you were saying. That’s just plain rude of your partner! It causes you to feel invalidated when you are not being heard.
“External factors in the home also make it difficult for couples to be attentive to one another. Household chores, tending to children, working from home, and a host of other necessities can definitely present challenges to communication. This is true even among the most loving and supporting of couples.” ~ © 2014 MarriageMoment.org
Inattention can be another word for “taking your partner for granted.” If you want your partner to stop taking you for granted, be ready to accord them the same degree of respect that you would like them to extend to you. There is also a phenomenon that sometime occurs called selective inattention. They’ve heard all that before and therefore choose to blank it out. (Note to women: If you are a nag, that could be another reason for inattention, however that is a topic for another time. 😉 ) Taking someone for granted and selective inattention are the first steps in the wrong direction!
Rather than becoming upset or angry when your spouse appears to be inattentive, accept responsibility to gain their attention. When the words, “We need to talk” are heard it makes most men quiver with fear. So, instead, when you need to have an important talk, choose a good time and quiet place to initiate conversation. If your partner had a tough day, is tired, has a lot on his/her mind, is busy with an important task, etc., it may be wise to wait for a better opportunity to talk. And talk you must. Never let important conversation slide.
Here is an over-simplified solution: When your partner talks to you… turn down the TV, get rid of any distractions and LISTEN! Paying attention takes conscious effort. It is highly conducive to building a sense of connection to your partner. You say, “I love you” in a very special way when you pay attention to your partner! It’s truly a matter of respect!
If you are the partner who is not being heard… it may be necessary to make a request. I once put on my “feelings” hat and said to my partner; “Can you understand how frustrating it is for me to tell you something that I consider very important only to have to repeat it because you are not paying attention when I speak? It feels like your not interested in what I have to say.” I got a quick apology and her immediate attention.
If any of this rings the bell for you, it is important to understand that you have valid emotional needs, – one of which is being heard – and when those needs are ignored, relationship conflicts arise.
If you want to improve your relationship and reap the considerable benefits of a good marriage there are proven things that you can do to increase the strength and health of your marriage. The first is to pay attention when your partner speaks. Have a chat. Talk in a loving way about how “listening” is missing.
If you find that despite your best efforts, your partner refuses to treat you with respect with the selfish act of inattention, perhaps it is time to examine deeper issues in your relationship with the help of a relationship coach.
It is hard for anyone to live without some appreciation now and then. Remember that when their inattention begins to improve… acknowledge how that feels – show them some appreciation!
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
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