We all want to feel seen, heard and understood. If you’re not feeling understood, it’s like you’re missing a nutrient in your diet, and you start to feel malnourished.
I remember feeling this way when I’d listen to my husband talk endlessly about something he was interested in but then as soon as I brought up something I was interested in, he’d interrupt me.
Maybe the lack of understanding feels even more serious because your husband just doesn’t seem to get you or care about what you want. Which hurts!
Here are three steps you can take to feel not only understood but also truly seen and adored:
1. Listen Instead of Convincing
When I most wanted my husband to understand me, I was making a big mistake that was exacerbating the problem.
I didn’t just want him to listen to me or comprehend what I was saying, although I wanted that too.
I wanted him to hear what I was saying, which I felt was completely logical, and agree with me.
Because there can only be one right way to invest for retirement or properly wash the colored clothes—my way! So the more he didn’t seem to agree with me, the more I kept talking and repeating and explaining, only to have him tune me out or defend his position.
Or, even worse, he would just go and do things his way right after I had just finished telling him the right way to do them!
I really believed that he just didn’t understand the world and how things worked as well as I did.
So implementing the Intimacy Skill of respect—honoring his choices for himself and the things he did for us instead of teaching him how to do them or just doing them myself—was life-changing.
Of course it was also very scary!
But once I started being more respectful, however imperfectly, he amazingly seemed to hear me so much better.
In the warm and fuzzy circle of emotional safety that came back into our marriage after that, I felt so much more understood.
He was no longer trying to defend himself, and that changed the whole tone of our conversations, which got deeper and more connected.
2. Define Your Desires
That doesn’t mean I always agree with him—I don’t!
So if I want to be understood, I start with really understanding myself and what I want. For me, that means I have to know my desires and express them without complaint or manipulation. As in, “I would love sushi for dinner” or “I would love a pool.”
My desires need no further explanation because they’re just what I would love. He may not desire those things, but that’s okay.
I don’t have to convince him that we should have a salmon roll for dinner or that we need a pool to swim for exercise. That’s not my concern.
My job is to just honor my desires, which is one way of letting other people know and understand me, especially my husband.
But complaining never got me there. Saying “I don’t want pizza for dinner” left a mystery about what I did want, which he couldn’t solve.
And saying “Don’t you wish we had a pool?” was just me trying to distance myself from my own desire by putting it on him.
Expressing desires in a way that inspires is a much better route to feeling that my husband understands me.
3. Lean on These Listeners
Even though I feel much more understood than I used to early on in my marriage before I had the Six Intimacy Skills™ and the Connection Framework, there are some things my husband just doesn’t understand about me!
But you know who does?
My girlfriends. My sisters.
There’s nothing quite like feeling they understand, really understand, and sharing some experiences with them that my husband never will.
Somehow, once I’ve talked to them I’m more filled up and less likely to feel a sense of urgency that I must make him understand. Having connections with women seems to be a critical part of my marriage.
These tweaks have taken us so far that now, when we’re dreaming about the future or having a deep conversation, I also feel so deeply understood.
What tweaks would you like to try? I look forward to hearing how they serve you!