Love Is Blind...And Sometimes Deaf

By Nancy Pollard, LCSW, LLC
Nancy Pollard

You may have heard the expression, “love is blind,” but did you know that love is also deaf?

The response I get from asking “what did you hear me say” is often not at all what I thought I said.  What one person expresses and what someone else hears are often quite different. When we love someone, somehow our hearing goes bad.  Husbands and wives argue about what each one thinks the other one said and effective communication goes out the window.  For example, if a husband suggests politely to his wife that “maybe she could wear the other dress instead,” she hears, “you think I look fat!”  Or when a wife tells her husband, “Honey, do you think that today you could follow up on that phone call?” he hears, “I never do anything fast enough for you!”

In Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, John Gray elaborates on the communication styles between a man and a woman.  He claims that a husband hears disapproval from his wife, but from another man he hears disagreement. He contends that a man is always fixing and giving solutions when what a woman wants is her feelings validated.   By my observation, this theory also applies to teenagers and their parents.  Parents try to fix their teenagers while teenagers want their feelings heard and validated.  It is insidiously ingrained that if we love someone, we have to be helpful and right.

Why, when we love someone, are we so hell bent on fixing their ‘problem’? Why do we lose our objectivity and our manners? We take things personally, talk about 10 things at once, hit below the belt, constantly bring up the past, name call, attack, and overall become very uncivilized.  We would never think to do this in our professional lives, yet we do it at home.

Chalk it up to habituation and getting too close to see the forest for the trees. But if we are fixing and always giving solutions, we are usually off base.  If we are defensive, we usually become deaf to what is being said. 

So, what is the answer?  How do we better communicate in relationships?  We need to bring respect, dignity, and manners back into our conversations.  We need to approach difficult situations in a more businesslike manner with certain protocol, ground rules, and guidelines before we just start yakking. In particular, we need to become trained talkers and trained listeners with the people we love.

Consider these 6 guidelines for healthy relationship communication:

  1. Begin by picking one and only one topic
  2. Use ‘I’ messages, not ‘you’ messages
  3. Rank the topic or issue on a scale of 1 -10, with 10 being most important
  4. Decide approximately how long it will take to discuss
  5. Decide what you want from the listener
  6. Make a time commitment of when you will have the conversation

The conversation will look like this:

 “I have an issue to discuss with you.  On a scale of 1-10, it is an 8.  It will take about 30 minutes and what I want from you is to just be able to share my feelings without being interrupted.  When would be a good time for you?”

As a listener, instead of being verbally attacked as you walked from the bedroom to the kitchen, you have received important information.  

  1. You know there is an issue to be discussed
  2. You know how important it is to your partner, even though it may not be that important to you
  3. You are not being attacked or accused of anything
  4. You know how long it will take
  5. You know what your job as a listener will be (which in this case is to keep your opinions and grand solutions to yourself) 
  6. You have some say in when the conversation will take place

At the very least, the above scenario stands a chance of being heard. It is fair, respectful, and presented in a logical manner.  Try it with your loved ones.  See if you can recapture your hearing with the people that you love. 

Just a little Mountain Therapy

Copyright © 2015 Nancy Pollard



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