Fight off interruptions causing problems in your relationship

Amanda asks, “My husband is always cutting me off when we talk. Is there anything I can do about that?”

Amanda, that is a great question. Couples definitely struggle with this Communication Blocker – interrupting. Interrupting usually turns conversations into arguments.

Here’s a typical example of interrupting. Wife begins telling her husband how she felt frustrated about all the time he spends on his video games. While she is speaking he cuts her off and goes into a long rant about his need to unwind and how she has it all wrong.

When people interrupt others, it is usually not meant to be rude, but it is often interpreted that way. And over time feeling unheard can suck those “in love” feelings out of the marriage. There are many reasons why people interrupt each other. Most of the time it’s because you feel like the other person isn’t listening or getting what you are saying. Or maybe you feel like you are going to forget what you have to say, so you have to blurt it out. You may interrupt because you don’t like what the other person is saying and need to change the narrative. Men tend to be more likely than women to interrupt. Men are also more likely to get upset at women for interrupting. They may say they are being rude or disrespectful. Women often become passive and allow the interrupter to take the floor.

If you find yourself constantly interrupting your partner here are some ways to help yourself. If you feel like you are going to forget your point, write it down. When someone is telling you something try to listen with an open mind rather than formulating what you have to say about the subject. Many people have to pause while they are talking to gather their thoughts. Don’t think their pause is your opportunity to jump in and share your thoughts. They may just be taking a breath or feeling some emotion they are trying to put into words. Make sure you wait long enough to see that they truly are finished before you start speaking. Make sure you practice active listening. Active listening consists of waiting till the speaker is finished with their thought, paraphrasing what you hear them saying, and asking them if you got it right. When you do this they will know you are listening and feel less apt to argue with you. They won’t feel you are being rude or invalidating what they are trying to say. If you believe your partner talks too long, agree on setting a timer to give each other an equal amount of time to talk.

When your partner constantly interrupts you can become very frustrated with them. If you are not careful you can find yourself scolding them for interrupting you. Or just shutting down altogether. There are more positive ways to let them know they should not do that. Before you start talking, make a note to say something like “I really want to know what you think about this when I am finished”. Reminding them that you will give them time to share their thoughts when you finish. Another strategy is to ignore their attempts to interrupt you and just keep talking. Try not to raise your voice or get into a shouting match. Many times the other person will settle down and hear you out. You can say things like “I would love to hear more of that when I am finished” or “one moment please”. It is important to acknowledge their desire to speak. That will help them wait their turn.

I used to interrupt my wife all the time. Eventually I learned I was missing out on some valuable information so I became a better listener. I also learned that when she felt like I listened to her she was more likely to listen to me.

Do you interrupt or cut each other off when you are talking? Taking turns talking is the essence of a conversation. Make sure your conversations don’t become arguments or monologues simply because you constantly interrupt each other.

What marriage question would you like answered? Maybe that’s what my next post can be about. Ask your question and get a free download of all the Communication Blockers.

Joe Follette

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