Side by Side

Q: I am very frustrated because my husband doesn’t listen to me anymore about anything. It’s like I’m talking to a brick wall. I’ll tell him something several times and a few days later he’ll say, “You never told me that.” I can’t take it anymore. Any suggestions?

A: In any type of communication, whether it is between spouses, coworkers, or family members, less is more. When you tell your husband something over and over, you become what I call a “go-oner,” someone who goes on and on about a topic. You may not realize it, but you might actually be teaching your husband how not to listen to you. When you go around the block on the same subject, it is most likely because you’re afraid if you don’t do that, your husband won’t hear what you are saying. But in reality, going on and on only dilutes your message.  Practice saying what you need to say as briefly as possible, say it once, and let the silence carry the weight of your message. If your husband is used to you staying on one topic for several minutes, don’t be surprised if he looks shocked when you say what you want once and stop talking. Although you’ll have the urge to repeat what you’ve just said, don’t do it! Trust that your brevity and the following silence will be exactly what your husband needs to digest what you’ve said.

Kathy Dawson is a Cleveland Heights author and relationship coach. If you would like your anonymous relationship question answered in a future column, send it to Dawson at To learn more, visit

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Volume 3, Issue 1, Posted 10:20 AM, 12.14.2009