Could Selective Hearing Be The Key To Long-Lasting Relationship Satisfaction?

When you hear the words "selective hearing," you might think of someone who's only half-listening to something you're saying. Their ears perk up when one thing you say catches their interest and only then do they truly listen. The rest of the time, they are biding their time till your story is over.

In a relationship context, this can be a nightmare. In fact, it might even be a relationship red flag science says you need to watch out for. You want your partner to truly listen when you're relaying what happened to you at the parking lot of the supermarket; not fake-listen. Not being listened to properly can make you feel ignored and frustrated. 

But have you ever been in a situation where your partner and you are debating over a topic and things get out of hand? Both of you are eager to make your point known and refuse to concede or see the other's point of view. And since an agreement cannot be reached, you resort to going to bed angry, fuming at the very memory of the entire conversation and what was said. Clinical psychologist and marriage counselor Randi Gunther told Psychology Today, "As most relationships mature, couples can find themselves bickering over small things. If those negative interactions, as minor as they may seem at the time, continue and increase, they can eventually pervade the relationship." At times like these, selective hearing could be key.

Selective hearing can help you not sweat the small stuff

Psychologist Mark Travers shared in Forbes, "One common mistake people make in their relationships is always trying to win an argument. Needless to say, this approach creates tension and can lead to power struggles and disconnection between partners." Long-lasting relationship satisfaction comes from choosing to let the small things go. 

Do you and your significant other constantly argue over what TV series you should watch on Netflix? Do you find yourselves quarreling about who takes out the trash on what days? If your partner is insisting on garbage duty being split fairly between the two of you and you're not so concerned about it, try avoiding saying anything in return. Practice selective hearing and take the essence of what's being communicated instead — they feel tired and want you to help out more. The constant back and forth over seemingly trivial matters will only erode the intimacy between the two of you. As Gunther shared in Psychology Today, "Slowly, often imperceptibly, they wear away at the partners' expectations of emotional support. If the repeated barbs and retorts continue, they can turn once deep and loving friends into wary adversaries."

If your spouse is passionately talking about a topic that's close to their heart and you happen to hear them say something small that you think is factually incorrect, resist the urge to correct them at that very moment. What matters is that they're sharing their dreams with you. 

Selective hearing doesn't mean allowing your partner to disrespect you

A long-lasting relationship is built on mutual respect, and practicing selective hearing should not in any way get in the way of that. If your significant other has a way of using name-calling or mockery when they communicate with you, this doesn't count as one of those small things you should let go. That could potentially become one of the biggest dealbreakers in a relationship. Address those during the argument (or even after) and let them know that such behavior is not okay. 

The key is in understanding the context in which selective hearing can be used effectively to increase relationship satisfaction. If you feel like not addressing something in its initial stages could add up and become a bigger problem in your future as a couple, then by all means, address it. Talk about it. But if they're minor things like your partner talking a lot in social gatherings or them choosing to hum every time they're in the shower alone, resist the urge to bring those up. Decide to ignore them instead. 

Balance is an often talked about concept in relationships, but it is difficult to be aware of and achieve when you've spent years together. Not sweating the small stuff is a good mantra to wake up to every day. You'll find yourself moving through the day a lot easier and your relationship satisfaction in the long-run will speak for it.