Q. My partner takes me for granted and my attempts to tell him what I need seem to fall on deaf ears. I feel like I have no option but to leave. I dont want to be his mother anymore. What can I do to save us before it’s too late?
A. First, make sure that when you have those talks, they are at times when he can actually take in your words. I find that sometimes, a partner will express their needs right before bedtime when their partner is exhausted and too tired to listen, or, as their partner is running out the door to go somewhere, or in the middle of a work project. If this is the case, set aside a specific date and time and talk with NO distractions. Second, prepare what you want to say so that you are very clear in your communication. Do not communicate in a way that leaves him to assume anything. Couple’s will say to me, “Well, we’ve been together 5 years, he/she should know what I want”… not necessarily. Make sure that you are crystal clear in your communication so that there are no misunderstandings. Third, sit at the kitchen table or somewhere neutral (not the bedroom), share a coffee or tea and talk. Make good eye contact. If you feel like you are not heard, ask him to repeat back to you what he heard you say. Did he hear you correctly? If he did, then ask him what gets in the way of him meeting your needs. If he can repeat it back to you, then maybe the problem is not deaf ears but a resistance to meet your needs. Talk more. Set goals together to work on these issues. If he agrees, create check in dates where you come together once a week, same kitchen table, to see how you are both doing. Is it working? If not, then you will need to evaluate what you want to do and let him know that you consider leaving the relationship. If he doesn’t agree to any of this then it seems to me his message is crystal clear – your needs will not get met.