Whenever I try to start a conversation with my husband, I get a few words out, and then he interrupts me. He then proceeds to tell me what I was going to say, or what I was thinking. And of course, he has NO idea! I am sick of never being heard, never being listened to, and NEVER getting to finish a sentence. He won't stop it! Oh, and he refuses to go to counseling; he says there is nothing wrong.
Can you suggest a book for my husband regarding why it is bad to interrupt and to never let me finish a sentence, and why it is wrong to assume he knows what I am going to say? Could you possibly post a response he can read, as well as additional materials, ideas, etc.? That would be great.
Jayhawker, 33-year-old woman
Communication is a true art form and I don't know a country in the world that really does a good job teaching people how to do it. It is meant to be an interchange of ideas, feelings, and perceptions to allow each person to know the other one and their views. It often has as its goal a resolution to a problem. However, for the most part it is simply relating, which promotes closeness and understanding between people. It is the hearts blood of relationships and without good communication a couple is doomed to superficiality, misunderstandings, and misery.
There are a number of really good reading materials and videotapes about communication. One of the most often recommended is Your Perfect Right by Alberti and Emmons. However, most websites by clinicians like my own have a list of books and videos that they offer. Almost all of them teach essentially the same principles and are quite good and effective.
As to why your husband is not listening to you there are several possibilities. Because I have not met with the two of you all of these possibilities are very tentative. Since you are both involved you will be able to assess which are applicable. The first might be that your tone of voice is accusatory or that he is taking it that way. If someone feels put down they often get defensive and then interrupt to defend themselves. The simplest possible reason might be that we are usually taught a form of communication that is really debate. If this is his idea of how to relate then interrupting would make sense. Another possible reason is that often couples feel scared by discussions and look at them as fights. There is a tendency to try and get the fight over as quickly as possible as if you are on the clock. Things get rather messy when people hurry and get defensive.
Interrupting is rude but it is also rather impulsive and impulsivity could be the result of substance abuse. If your husband drinks or uses drugs then the inhibitions will break down and he will have a tendency to talk right over your sentences. It is also conceivable that he might suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder. This is a neurological disorder that causes impulse control problems and is shown by finishing others sentences and interrupting. You would need to educate yourself about this problem if you think it might apply because it is a complex disorder and has many other symptoms that would need to be exhibited besides this one for it to be applicable.
The following is a list of abusive rules or fouls in terms of communicating and discussing. Essentially it is a list of don'ts in a discussion. If any of these fouls occurs I would suggest telling your partner you feel abused and I would not talk about the issue further until they apologize and change the behavior. I hope this helps. Take care.
Dos and Don'ts of Communication:
- Yelling voice
- Calling names
- Bringing up the past
- Categorizing / Comparing
- Doesn't listen to other person's side
- Turns away or walks away
- Laughs at other person
- Mocks other person
- Demands to talk at inappropriate times
- Passive Manipulative Behavior:
- Slams door
- Making faces
- Silent treatment
- Talks over last part of sentence
- Hits or throws things
- Using weak points
- Monopolizing conversation (monologues)
- Asking inappropriate questions - over the other person's boundaries
- Mad about one thing but talks about another thing
- Threatening statements or behavior
- Blackmail "or else" statements
- Attempting to "guilt trip" or "shame"
- Moving across physical boundary of other person
- Threatening physical gestures or movements
- Taking the others inventory
- Conditional love, "I'll marry you, if you..."
- Breaking confidences
- Third party communication
- Breaking promises repeatedly
- Not supportive emotionally
- Calling names
- Bringing up the past to hurt you
- Neglecting your needs deliberately
- Pushing buttons
- Making fun of you
- Treating you like a child, or mother, or father - treats you as an inferior or superior
- Ignores - doesn't listen to you or your opinion
- Being disrespectful / rude
- Won't take "no" for an answer
- Someone who gives you advice not asked for
- Trying to "fix" or "save" you
- Shotgun blasting - not staying on one subject
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Strings attached to gifts
- Withholding behavior
- Inappropriate secrets or threats
- Excessive teasing
This question was answered by Jef Gazley M.S. Jef has practiced psychotherapy for twenty-five years, specializing in Love Addiction, Hypnotherapy, Relationship Management, Dysfunctional Families, Co-Dependency, Professional Coaching, and Trauma Issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET, TFT, and Applied Kinesiology. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. His private practice locations are Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona. You can also visit Jef at the internettherapist, the first audiovisual mental health online counseling center on the net.
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