“My husband doesn’t listen to me” is one of the most common issues brought up in therapy. Feeling your partner isn’t listening to you can leave you frustrated and resentful. You may wonder if he hears you but then doesn’t follow through on the action or if he’s ignoring you altogether. In either case, it leaves you angry and puzzled at how to get through to him.
So what can you do to break out of this infuriating dynamic? You’ll first need to do a little detective work to better understand the circumstances under which your husband’s behavior occurs. Then you can take some corrective measures to address those negative behavior patterns. Let’s take a closer look at what you can do to get your husband to listen and be attentive.
Identify Behavioral Patterns
Can you identify some patterns to your husband’s disengagement? Does he seem not to listen to you when you’re asking him to take care of household chores? Or perhaps he seems checked out when you’re trying to discuss social gatherings like birthday parties, family reunions or wedding invitations? Does he seem uninterested in talking about quality time you want to spend together? Or is it about you, your work, or the kids?
Similarly, try to figure out when he tends not to listen. Is it in the mornings, dinnertime or bedtime? While he’s at work? Is his behavior different on weekends than weekdays? Make note of when he seems to be most distracted and when he is more likely to be attentive.
Lastly, consider why he may tune you out. Could it be his lack of empathy? Is he self-absorbed or distracted by other matters? Does he seem depressed? Perhaps he feels you don’t listen to him and he’s mirroring it back to you? If your partner thinks you’re mad at him all the time or feels you tend to lose patience and constantly yell at him, he will be more likely to tune you out.
Take a few days or weeks to observe when your husband appears not to listen and see if any patterns emerge.
How To Get Your Husband To Listen To You
Be The Agent Of Change
The most effective way to change someone’s behavior is to lead by example. So make a change or improvement in yourself first and show him how attentive and present you can be. Listen to him, pay attention, show empathy, and express appreciation. As they say, what comes around goes around, so model how to be a good listener. Try this for a week or two and see if you can inspire your husband to become a better listener.
Have A Conversation
Pick a quiet and calm time to have a chat with your husband without distractions or interruptions. If you know that your husband doesn’t listen to you after a tiring day at work, have a conversation during the weekend. If your husband tends to be highly distracted when at home, invite him for a walk or out to lunch.
Keep the tone positive and hopeful and ask for what you want. Here’s a good example:
“I’ve noticed you seem preoccupied and distracted after work, making it tough for me to talk to you about things we need to get done. Instead of bugging you when you’re tired, can you help me figure out a good time for us to catch up?”
Avoid dwelling on the problem or asking him questions about his behavior or motivation. Questions run the risk of creating conflict and can be perceived as punitive. They usually trigger defensiveness in the other person. So keep the focus positive, constructive and upbeat.
Share What's On Your Mind
Share your desires and wishes and express that you miss the person your spouse once was when you felt more connected. A good way to begin this conversation is with phrases such as “It makes me feel good when you…”. Be mindful to use “I/me” and “you” and try not to use “we” so much. “We” can feel coercive, like you’re making statements on both of your behalves. “We” can also signal a level of codependency. So use “I” and “you” statements instead.
Seek Professional Support
If you’ve modeled attentiveness, had conversations, and expressed your needs without seeing any changes or attempts to change from your husband, it may be time to seek out professional support. As much as some folks like to think they can fix relationship problems on their own, some therapeutic guidance can really help. A good therapist will equip both you and your partner with communication tools and strategies which will help you today and for years to come.