Why your husband doesn't listen to you and what you can do about it
First, you've got to understand how men think....
“Darling, can you please pick up some wholegrain bread and bananas from the supermarket?” “Okay” replies your husband. And you tell him at least three more times in your conversation, just to make sure. But what does he bring home? White bread and strawberries. It’s no wonder why “my husband doesn’t listen to me” is a universal complaint of many frustrated wives around the world.
But why is this and how can we get our men to listen to us?
It seems to be a defining factor of many marriages: wives complain their men just don’t listen to them. That they are unable to communicate properly. That all men seem to want is sex.
1. Power struggle. If a man is naturally dominating or aggressive in nature, and his wife expects him to listen to her when she’s venting, he may see it as a win-lose situation. He loses because he has to say nothing and listen. If he tells her she is being illogical, then all hell may break loose. She wins because she gets to have her say. In other words, he may feel like a doormat, so he’d rather not engage.
2. The man responds the wrong way when asked to listen. In particular, with sarcasm. For example, “Are you getting your period?” He thinks he’s being clever and funny or merely just stating the truth; she thinks he doesn’t take her seriously and cannot turn to him for comfort or a listening ear. The result? Emotional fireworks.
3. He expects nagging. Take the example presented at the beginning of the article about the shopping list. She repeats her request many times (yet he still got it wrong). To her, she’s just making sure he gets what he has to do. But to him, repeating the same thing converts to nagging, and he just can’t take it. So he tunes out.
4. He thinks its unwise to take part in certain conversations. In other words, your husband might be selectively choosing to engage only in certain conversations on purpose due to how you reacted (in man-talk, over-reacted) in the past.
5. Need to problem-solve. Men like solving problems. They’re practical like that. Also, some husbands see venting and sharing emotions as unnecessary and time-wasting. So, they give their wives practical solutions. But when a woman tells her husband about an issue she has, she might not necessarily want a solution. And when he offers one, she sees it as him being uncaring and dismissive. She’ll either withdraw or get angry/emotional or both), and he’ll eventually tune out.
We also asked three husbands for their opinions on why they might not listen to their wives, or choose not to engage with them at times.
Here’s what they had to say (pseudonyms used
for their safety):
It is important to say what is right. But there at times when you need to say the right things. And there are times when she just needs an ear, not an advice. So, by not harping about what’s right, it makes sense to be supportive, especially if the wife is mad at someone! You can always talk rationally later.
Some topics are simply trouble, especially if you’ve hashed this out before. Venturing there again will lead to nothing good, like strolling through a minefield, or poking a tiger with a stick. Couple that with men’s stereotypical aversion to conversations about feelings and the obvious response will be to avoid this painful experience at all costs. Talking may smooth over your relationship with each other, but it doesn’t always solve the problem. And if status quo is good before the unproductive sharing of feelings, then better not to go there at all.
It is damned if you do and damned if you don’t with women. Sometimes it is better not to engage when a woman is in a foul mood. In the heat of the moment, one could end up saying awful things to each other. It is better to calm down and not engage when one is angry. But sometimes not engaging can also be taken as a sign of carelessness, or nonchalance. That is yet another sin and one has to pay penance for it, sooner or later. When the moment is right, talk things over. Letting things fester never works.
- Give him a heads-up. Prevent conflict and misunderstanding by letting him know first that you have something important to say. Look him in the eye and express very clearly that you need to have a serious talk.
- Don’t compete with distractions. Men struggle to multi-task. So if you have something important to tell your husband, ensure he’s not distracted by his favourite TV programme or the internet. Instead, go for a walk together or step outside for dinner – and then talk to him once you have his full attention.
- Tell him exactly what you want. Because men are programmed to problem-solve, if you don’t want a solution to your issue, tell him so, and that you just want him to listen. But if you genuinely would like to fix the problem, ask him for his opinion and suggestions.
- Don’t start with the negative. “You never listen to me, and that’s the biggest problem in our marriage!” as a conversation opener is just going to turn him off. Instead, start with a positive statement like, “There’s something I need to talk to you about our relationship and I think we can fix it together.”
- Don’t expect him to read your body language or predict what you want. Women tend to use facial expressions when they talk and are in general, more perceptive of other people’s unspoken needs and wants. Men, on the other hand, are not so good at picking up non-verbal emotional cues. So, if you are tired at the end of the day, but your husband doesn’t pick up on this because of how you look, it’s natural that you feel ignored: “Can’t you SEE that I’m tired? Do I have to TELL you to get the kids to bed?” Yes, you probably do have to tell him to avoid an unpleasant argument.
- Don’t digress. You start talking to him about how hurt you felt when he said his mother’s chicken curry was better than yours (in front of her). But in that same conversation, you bring up how hurt you felt when you caught him watching porn. Don’t do this – it confuses him. Stick to the topic and you’ll find he listens to you much better.
We hope this article helps brighten your relationship! Share your own tips with us on how you get your husband to listen to you.
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