MARRIAGE PROBLEMS? You Are Not Listening!

As a professional licensed therapist for the last 40 years, the most common problem I  have seen in counseling people experiencing marriage problems is communication break down due to poor listening.  In a previous post (see here), I examined the idea that your view or map of reality is unique to you.  This makes communicating problematic when we think we already know what our partner is thinking or feeling due to our own biased map of “reality”. Instead of listening, to our partners all the way through, we usually either interrupt or stop listening to formulate our own rebuttal.


Each partner of the marriage is seeking to get their needs met and tends to believe they know the best way to make that happen.  The rub comes when we seek to communicate our ideas about those needs to our spouse and run slam into a difference of opinion.  Results?  Disconnect! Couples experiencing marital problems usually have reached an impasse in their communication about something that is important to both parties.. Statements like “he doesn’t listen to me” or “she doesn’t respect or understand me” are heard all too frequently.

What do the words, “You are not listening to me!” really mean? Unless your partner is deaf, they hear what you are saying. “You are not listening” is often closely linked to the words, “You don’t understand me!”  I believe that often these words mask a simple truth. You are so concerned with getting your point across that you really aren’t hearing our understanding what the other person is saying..


In the book Parent Effective Training, the author discusses a topic called reflective listening. This is a subject loaded with positive possibilities! This book is well worth the read!

Reflective listening starts with a decision to refuse to argue with the other party in a communication. It is a non demanding, non violent way to encourage your partner to talk and it is guaranteed to give you the opportunity to demonstrate you are tuned in to what they are saying. Check out this 2 minute video explaining briefly the concept  of reflective listening.



A slightly broader approach is active listening.  The information on this next video covers a few more very important tips on the issue of listening. It too is a brief 2 minute video.

Working to understand your partner first, before stating your side of the story, goes a long way to build bridges between you and your mate!

For more information on dealing with marital problems, please check back on this site for more posts in the future. Also, please comment or ask questions below and I will respond quickly.

Thanks for reading!

  1. Great post thanks for sharing!
    I really thought the information was straight to the point and valuable. I graduated from the school of social work at Ryerson University, and I have to commend you for your excellent article. No fluff only stuff that really matters, and so easy to follow.

    I book marked your page for future reference..


    1. Thanks Mike. Great to hear from a fellow social worker! Your feedback was very encouraging. This blog is a new venture for me so hearing from a fellow professional is heartening!

  2. Hi Byron,

    Great post. yes communication is so important not just in marriage but any relationship. So many people these days are all about themselves and find it hard to actively listen to the other partner.

    I find that meditation is so important in my life and my partners and that really helps our relationship. Many thanks for what you do 🙂


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