It Turns Out You Listen Less To Your Spouse Than To A Stranger
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It Turns Out You Listen Less To Your Spouse Than To A Stranger

It Turns Out You Listen Less To Your Spouse Than To A Stranger

By James Guttridge

According to Kate Murphy, an American author, the closer you are to someone, the less you listen to them. Here's why.

Misunderstandings that pile up, and the feeling of not being heard, not being listened to. The latest example? You thought your partner understood that you didn't want to go to that party Saturday night at their friends' house. And yet, on their side, everything was clear: you agreed! How is it that within a relationship, or a family, the words of the other sometimes seem to elude us?

Kate Murphy, author of the book You're Not Listening: What You're Missing and Why It Matters, explains why in a column published in the New York Times on February 11th.

You think you know what the other is going to say to you, and yet you don’t

‘When you know people well enough, there is an unconscious tendency to turn a deaf ear because you think you know what they are going to say... it's like when you've been on a road before and you don't pay attention to the road signs anymore’

Sharing a lot of time together, sharing your life itself, doesn't mean you necessarily think the same thing, says Murphy.

‘People change all the time. The sum of daily interactions continually forge us, none of us are the same as last month, last week or even yesterday’

A propensity to keep more secrets

This proximity, therefore, prevents us from listening properly. But not only this, but it also prevents us from being heard. ‘It explains why people in close relationships often have secrets and keep information to themselves.’

Reducing conversation to everyday tasks, to basic or even virtual exchanges (using only emojis, for example), is, therefore, a trap into which we should avoid falling.

‘The British anthropologist and psychologist Robin Dunbar,’ says Murphy, ‘explains that the best way to maintain a strong relationship is to maintain a “daily discussion.” This means asking how it is going, and really listening to the answer.’ Easier said than done though...

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