Husband Doesn't Listen to Me.

Updated on December 20, 2010
M.L. asks from Los Angeles, CA
18 answers

When I try and talk to my husband, he either doesn't hear my question, asks me to repeat multiple times or pretends that he heard me and answers me, but doesn't have a clue what I was talking to him about. At first, it was just annoying and I let it pass. He would say he was concentrating on work and typing on his blackberry and didn't hear me . ..but then I hear other people ask him questions or talk to him and he readily talks to them like they're his best friend or he takes time out of his day to help some random person with a question, but doesn't bother to call to ask me how I'm doing when he knows I haven't been doing well because he's too "busy". Is this a sign we're headed for divorce. Lately, I've been getting so angry about it, I don't want to talk to him at all. We've been together for a long time (over 10 years), so I don't know if he's just bored. Anyways, it's so disrespectful, I've called him out on it and he has nothing to say.

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answers from Las Vegas on

My husband does this and I feel it is just a matter of knowing you are there for him so he can and he does.

My husbands hearing is low, but he flat out refuses to get a hearing aid, so he admits he hears part of what you say to him and fills in the blanks.

Bad hearing - Poor attention toward wife = HUH?

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answers from Norfolk on

My husband went through a phase like this when texting was the new toy he couldn't put down for awhile.
I just started texting my questions to him.
Eventually I exceeded my monthly quota (and I don't text anyone but him) and he discovered it was cheaper to talk/listen to me directly.
A lot of hubbys catch on eventually, especially if it hits them in the wallet.
(Oh, and I've had a harder time hearing in situations where there is a lot of background noise. I have to ask him to repeat questions. It was annoying him till he understood it was just an aging thing.)

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answers from Austin on

Divorce? Heck no.. but come up with some funny ways to get his attention.. With my husband sometimes, I start the sentence with "Boobs".. He perks up and asks "what?" I then pretend I did not say the word and speak with him.. Hee, hee...

Or I will use the line we used on our daughter "listen to my words".. Or "I need to see your eyes."

"Can you hear what I am saying?" Or get on the computer and send him a message through his blackberry saying "look at me", "I am trying to tell you something"..

We live in a home that is pier and beam with wooden floors, so sometimes, I will stomp my foot at him..the house shakes , it cracks him up every time..

FYI, My husband has ADHD..

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answers from Portland on

If you haven't discussed this with your husband, that is your first step. I suggest that you get into couples counseling and work this out. Start with going out for coffee or even having coffee together at the table with nothing else going on so that you're looking at each other and tell him how you feel. Do not accuse him of not caring. Don't make assumptions for why he doesn't listen. Just tell him you feel like he doesn't listen to you and it's making you angry and you want to find a way to talk to each other so that you feel heard. Use I statements. Instead of saying "you don't listen to me." say, " I feel like you don't listen to me." He may say, he didn't know that and become defensive saying he does listen. Then you describe what you hear and see, starting each sentence with I.

You've let this go on too long which has result in lots of built up negative feelings on your part and most likely clueless feelings on his part. I suggest it will help if you apologize for waiting so long to express your feelings. Remember, you are expressing your feelings and not telling him how he feels or why he's doing it.

It will take time to work thru all those feelings. Be gentle with yourself and with him. Focus on finding a way to have better communication and not on the anger from the past.

I suggest that you may need professional help to get past your passive past. IF he doesn't want to go, you go and learn how to get yourself back on track.

I suggest taking a look at Non-violent Communication. They have a web site and a book by that title. It helps us learn ways of wording what we have to say so that it's easier for the other person to hear us. How we speak greatly influences what the other person hears and how they respond. When we whine or are cranky the other person frequently tunes us out. Given your level of emotion it may be that he's not listening. Who wants to hear an unpleasant tone of voice? You may be able to get him to listen just by changing your attitude towards him which will change your tone of voice. Start with an open hearted conversation with him and then focus on believing that he will want to listen when you're more interesting.

This doesn't mean you're headed for a divorce. I'd call this a wake up call to investing in communication in your marriage.

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answers from Seattle on

I decided not to compete with electronics and refused to say a single word to my husband if he wouldn't give me his full attention, or even bother looking up much less answering me. We didn't talk for 4.5 months. I didn't say a single word that wasn't in response to something he said first, and only if he was looking at me. If he was just talking to thin air as he headed for the computer... I just shrugged and walked the other way.

I actually had a lot of fun during those 4 months because I cut him out of my life completely. No asking what he wanted for dinner, updating or including him in plans, just me and kiddo.

I don't recommend the process. I got over being angry with him... but it did nothing else but add more distance to our marriage. I'd tried everything else, however; talking with him. Standing in front of the machine. Cutting the power. Waving my arms. Standing naked. Fighting & yelling at the top of my lungs...

I finally just decided it wasn't worth the effort, and that I was not going to lose a competition with a stupid machine. So I quit playing.

When he FINALLY noticed (over 4 months later), things changed. But honest to god... I just don't have that much to say anymore to him. It was too habit forming, disincluding him. My first thought BEFORE giving up was "I need to tell DH!" OR "Gee, I wonder what DH thinks?" or "I should check with DH before ________." Shoe's on the other foot, now. NOW he's trying to get me engaged in conversation. But too many years of being ignored, and several months of "silence" (not silent treatment, I'd talk but the moment his attention wandered I'd walk out midsentance and go on with my life)... WHY would I want to share.

Personally... My suspicion is that as long as you're still fighting, you still have hope. At least that's the way it was for me. At this point, I don't bother to fight for attention. I don't care enough to.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

"Is this a sign we're headed for divorce?" How ridiculous! It's a sign that he does not pay attention when you talk to him. Make sure he's paying attention before you say a thing the FIRST time.

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answers from Boise on

two books:

For him to read: "If He Only Knew, What No Woman Can Resist" "

For you to read: Sacred Influence, What a Man Needs From his Wife to be the Husband She Wants"

and...."His Needs, Her Needs" or....Love and Respect".

I think the first two listed books are most helpful, followed by the others.
See if you can get any of them in the library. The' HIS NEEDS HER NEEDS' has a lot of questionairs in it that we didnt do. I think it was just a good wakeup call to hear the author say that needs are a DRIVING force of behavior, and if you don't meet your spouses needs, they will find it somewhere else.

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answers from Boston on

Oh boy they must be all brothers!!!! I will try to talk to mine, he will pick up the news paper, do a crossword all while I try to talk to him. He says he can do both and hear me at the same time. I tell him that its rude as hell and I want undivided attention when I am trying to have a conversation, I like people to look at me when I am talking, not his head buried in the paper. I find this to be unsettling and it pisses me off. So now I do say I would like to talk to you for a moment can you stop reading. He has been really good at stopping and acknowledging me.

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answers from Chicago on

Sounds like a sign you need to have a real conversation without his blackberry around. If he doesn't hear you out, then I would stop meeting some of his needs until he makes time to listen to you. If you cook, make his least favorite meals for dinner all week and get a blackberry of your own to occupy time with. Bet that will get his attention. You guys are just overly comfortable with each other and take the other one for granted sounds like---this is no where near what I would consider grounds for divorce.

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answers from Tampa on

Assuming your husband's hearing is ok, I would look into ADD/ADHD. Everything you have described fits the profile.

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answers from Phoenix on

Well, I am to blame in our marriage for the exact same behavior you describe. It is my husband who wants to talk to me all the time.

So unless he has my complete, undivided attention, meaning no computer, no laundry, no dishes, no cooking, no reading, no music, I do not hear half of what comes out of his mouth. He must tell me before he speaks that he needs my attention, OR he must assume that I am truly not in a listening mode. I am constantly thinking about someone starting up a conversation with me at home is a bit of an intrusion, as I already have one going on in my head.

Then the same consequences of what you describe above....I started to pretend to understand what he said, and put together a reasonable half-hearted answer. Oh, did not go over well.

Turns out, after years of him being frustrated with my inattentiveness, and some therapeutic intervention, I have ADD...I was shocked. I hate to admit it, but my ADD meds have made me a much better listener, I'm less irritable with him wanting to talk as I can focus longer now.

However, with that said, I still will not sit and talk about meaningless topics, like Suz T does below. I will talk to him about work related issues as long as necessary, but I have no tolerance for electronics and computer conversations.

Also, I've heard many husbands complain over the years about how their wives talk on and on about other people, and little family conflicts. I do not bore my husband ever with any day to day neighborhood or school happenings or gossip. It's got to be really big or has to impact him directly for me to discuss other people with him.

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answers from Detroit on

If you continue to decide that you don't want to talk to him, and let your anger continue to fester, then yeah, that WILL lead to divorce. It's up to both of you to start putting your best foot forward and learn to communicate with each other. Men are pretty clueless in general, I have found, and often seem to need everything spelled out for them. You say that you have called him out on it but it's possible that the manner in which you did it made him feel attacked and defensive and his response to is basically withdraw and shut down. There is also a tendency in marriages to take each other for granted so he may assume you are fine because nothing has been said, as opposed to the interest he shows in someone else that he doesn't see everyday. As others have already suggested, you might want to consider counseling, and more effective means of communication.

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answers from Richmond on

I definately don't think you're headed towards a divorce, and I don't even think he's doing it to be intentionally disrespectful... in fact, he probably doesn't realize he's doing it at all. Too bad you've waited until you were this upset about it; it will be harder to explain your feelings calmly now BUT, it is important to tell him. Keep it supershort and to the point 'honey, sometimes you zone out on me. snap out of it! pay attention!' If he tries to deny it/defend himself, remind him how aggrivated he gets when the kids ignore him or make him repeat himself; put it in perspective for him. This is a guy thing and you're not alone ;) Hope it gets better!! Try throwing the BB across the room, THAT might get his attention!! (kidding....)

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answers from Washington DC on

i will not talk to anyone who is using an electronic device while they pretend to listen to me. i don't allow texting in my classes, and in the restaurant where i work i will not take anyone's order or ask them about their meal if they're on a cell phone. and frankly i get annoyed when i'm here on my home computer and my men want to talk to me. i suppose it's a sign of my age that i can't and won't multi-task to that degree.
the first thing i would do is to make sure that what you want to discuss is important and/or interesting. sometimes couples go through a phase where they are sort of BTDT with each other. it doesn't mean divorce, but it does mean a reconnection is in order. my husband knows i have a pretty limited interest range for discussions about what the orioles are up to, but i will put aside what i'm doing to listen if he's got a work dilemma he needs to process aloud to someone. likewise i know who to call if i want to discuss something of a mystical or occult nature, but my dh is johnny-on-spot for farm or family issues.
sounds like a spot of counseling to get some communications tools might be the thing to try before throwing in the towel on the marriage. i'd be angry too if i were you, but you won't get through to him with anger.

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answers from Seattle on

I think you two need to sit down and have a real honest conversation. Tell him how you feel deep down. He needs to put down that phone and tell you as well how he feels about you and you both need to get to the root of the problem. Living like that isnt helping either of you. Sad situation when you feel ignored but maybe there is a reason for it.
Not a sign your headed for divorce, just a sign that there is no communication being had between you two. I believe its something you all can work out without bringing up the "big D" Just both need to want it to work in order for it to.
Just be honest and non confrontational about how you are feeling about how things are in your relationship lately and about how you feel towards him because of it.

Best wishes for you both.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I think you need to sit him down with nothing in front of him to distract him and ask him why he is ignoring you. Tell him how you feel. if he blows you off I would flat out tell him you think your marriage is dying. Tell him you want to go to counseling. If he ignores you at this point hen t least you know where you are. Not talking about the problem for 10 years isn't going to suddenly fix itself tomorrow.

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answers from Tulsa on

I could have written this. Hang in there. I think it is a bad habit that is easy to fall into and not necessarily a sign of divorce.
I began ignoring him while on the computer and he got MAD fast. LOL
I said "Now you know how I feel." It has been better and we agreed to put down the keyboards when talking.



answers from Dallas on

Your description fits my dh right after we got married. Turned out he has ADD. Getting mad at him and "calling him out" on it isn't going to help, it's just going to make him feel bad and get defensive; chances are he's not doing it on purpose. Get his attention before you begin to speak: turn off the tv or stand in front of it; make sure you have eye contact; call his name and wait for a response - then if he doesn't look at you ask him to.

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