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DH cannot 'listen' and it's putting me off sex. Please help!

(39 Posts)
oneplusone Mon 07-Sep-09 20:15:22

DH is unable to listen to anything I have to say. He will literally walk off whilst I am mid-sentence, cut me off whilst I am talking to say something himself, look around and get distracted by the tiniest little everyday sounds, carry on watching tv as if I haven't said anything. Every time he does this, I feel belittled, unimportant, and hurt. I feel he does not respect me enough to pay attention when I am saying something.

I never feel like having sex with him and I have worked out that his inability to listen to me is why. It causes resentment in me towards him and I feel very disconnected from him if we cannot even have a normal everyday conversation.

I have told him how he makes me feel but he just says he doesn't mean to do it, he doesn't do it intentionally, it's all in my head if i feel belittled and hurt and he basically says he can't change and i have to put up with it.

I have tried but I can't put up with it and I don't really know what to do. Has anybody got any ideas?

He gets moody if I say i don't want sex and goes on about all the things he does for me. And to be fair he does do a lot around the house and helps out with the DC's as much as he can, considering he also works long hours in a sressful job. But I would be much happier if he helped out less and listened more. I never ask him to help, he just does it, but I have asked him to listen as that is what i want from him, but he says he can't. It seems like an impossible problem, please tell me there is a way forward!

trefusis Mon 07-Sep-09 20:18:44

Message withdrawn

thumbwitch Mon 07-Sep-09 20:23:53

write it down for him. Use pictures. Hold onto part of him to retain his focus.

There is a theory that people process through different senses preferentially - I for e.g. am an aural person, I listen most - luckily so is DH. My mum was too, but my Dad was visual - and never listened.
My DH's visual processing is so crap that he couldn't see something hidden in plain view (makes "hiding" presents easy cos he never notices themgrin)

Your DH may have low processing skills in the aural area - in which case try using visual or tactile aids to keep his focus.
IF that doesn't work then he is a disrespectful oik.

oneplusone Mon 07-Sep-09 21:23:17

trefusis, thanks and you are right of course. I know stuff around the house is not for me, but he has also been doing stuff for me because I can't do it. Eg. I have been suffering from bad depression over the past 2 years or so (am much better now) meaning i wanted to sleep all the time. DH would always get up with the DC's, including every weekend, so i could sleep in. Also, stuff around the house would not get done, again due to my depression and DH would often take up the slack for me. So i guess it's not as black and white as it might have appeared from my OP. Sorry.

Thumbwitch, you may have a point there. As DH is most definately a visual person and like you say, perhaps therefore not an aural person. But that leaves me no further forward.

However hard I try, I cannot help but get upset and feel offended at his ignoring/cutting me off mid-sentence and seemingly complete disinterest in what I'm saying. And i wouldn't even mind if it only happened occasionally, but it happens all the time and i have given up pulling him up on it constantly.

He tells me that when he is not at work, his brain is on 'standby'; I guess it's his way of unwinding and relaxing in the evening/at weekends. Trouble is of course those are the times when we're together and I want him to listen to me.

If we want to have a serious conversation about something he's ok, he seems to be able to listen, it's just the general, everyday stuff that's a problem. It's kind of hard as the stuff I am saying is not even of great importance, but it is important to me to be able to talk to him about everyday atuff as well as the important stuff.

I do often feel he does not have much respect for me in general and I can't help but feel this behaviour is proof of that.

oneplusone Mon 07-Sep-09 21:23:32

trefusis, thanks and you are right of course. I know stuff around the house is not for me, but he has also been doing stuff for me because I can't do it. Eg. I have been suffering from bad depression over the past 2 years or so (am much better now) meaning i wanted to sleep all the time. DH would always get up with the DC's, including every weekend, so i could sleep in. Also, stuff around the house would not get done, again due to my depression and DH would often take up the slack for me. So i guess it's not as black and white as it might have appeared from my OP. Sorry.

Thumbwitch, you may have a point there. As DH is most definately a visual person and like you say, perhaps therefore not an aural person. But that leaves me no further forward.

However hard I try, I cannot help but get upset and feel offended at his ignoring/cutting me off mid-sentence and seemingly complete disinterest in what I'm saying. And i wouldn't even mind if it only happened occasionally, but it happens all the time and i have given up pulling him up on it constantly.

He tells me that when he is not at work, his brain is on 'standby'; I guess it's his way of unwinding and relaxing in the evening/at weekends. Trouble is of course those are the times when we're together and I want him to listen to me.

If we want to have a serious conversation about something he's ok, he seems to be able to listen, it's just the general, everyday stuff that's a problem. It's kind of hard as the stuff I am saying is not even of great importance, but it is important to me to be able to talk to him about everyday atuff as well as the important stuff.

I do often feel he does not have much respect for me in general and I can't help but feel this behaviour is proof of that.

oneplusone Mon 07-Sep-09 21:23:46

trefusis, thanks and you are right of course. I know stuff around the house is not for me, but he has also been doing stuff for me because I can't do it. Eg. I have been suffering from bad depression over the past 2 years or so (am much better now) meaning i wanted to sleep all the time. DH would always get up with the DC's, including every weekend, so i could sleep in. Also, stuff around the house would not get done, again due to my depression and DH would often take up the slack for me. So i guess it's not as black and white as it might have appeared from my OP. Sorry.

Thumbwitch, you may have a point there. As DH is most definately a visual person and like you say, perhaps therefore not an aural person. But that leaves me no further forward.

However hard I try, I cannot help but get upset and feel offended at his ignoring/cutting me off mid-sentence and seemingly complete disinterest in what I'm saying. And i wouldn't even mind if it only happened occasionally, but it happens all the time and i have given up pulling him up on it constantly.

He tells me that when he is not at work, his brain is on 'standby'; I guess it's his way of unwinding and relaxing in the evening/at weekends. Trouble is of course those are the times when we're together and I want him to listen to me.

If we want to have a serious conversation about something he's ok, he seems to be able to listen, it's just the general, everyday stuff that's a problem. It's kind of hard as the stuff I am saying is not even of great importance, but it is important to me to be able to talk to him about everyday atuff as well as the important stuff.

I do often feel he does not have much respect for me in general and I can't help but feel this behaviour is proof of that.

SolidGoldBrass Mon 07-Sep-09 21:32:02

Is it possible that he doesn't listen too much because you are not saying anything interesting? Your last post mentions that he listens when it's something important b ut not to the 'general everyday stuff'. Some people find it very hard to keep interested in a long rambling monologue about which pants you thought about putting on today and whether you thought it might rain but it didn't, still maybe it will rain tomorrow, etc.
OK some people simply are more talkative than others, and when you live with someone you have to work out suitable compromises for the areas in which you differ. But I am getting the impression from your posts (which may of course be wrong) that you want to talk at him for hours and I wonder how much you listen to him?
Are you starved of adult company otherwise, though? It's a fairly classic marital problem for SAHMs: no one to talk to all day so when the H gets in the SAHM is frantic for conversation but the H wants to read the paper and chill - there are various ways of working this one out, as well.

AnAuntieNotAMum Mon 07-Sep-09 21:39:11

I was going to ask the same as SGB - do you talk to other people much during the day?

Also, he got used to you being depressed, sleepy, presumably not very communicative, is it taking him time to get used to the un-depressed you?

TDiddy Mon 07-Sep-09 23:48:46

I occassionally suffered from your DH's problem. I linked it back to the following factors:

-I have several brothers and sisters and it was normal for us all to talking at the same time or having parallel conversations smile

-I was/am good at extrapolating and anticipating the essence of the point that someone is making.

I understand the impact on others so I am much better at not making this mistake.

Possible that you are both in a downward spiral: you don't want sex because he is not be loving and caring on a day to day basis. And he isn't being loving and caring because he is sulking about not having sex.

Sex can be a strong bonding catalyst for couples as you know. Perhaps you need to discuss with him the linkage between how he treats you and how you feel towards him/sex

dittany Mon 07-Sep-09 23:58:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mathanxiety Tue 08-Sep-09 00:09:19

I'm with Dittany, especially if he says your feelings about this are all in your head. When someone could do something very simple to make someone else feel better, why not do it? It has backfired on his because now you won't have sex with him and he still won't change? Something is up.

TDiddy Tue 08-Sep-09 00:24:53

I think that we are all with Dittany. I think it is a question of how you get through to him to stop this happening and stop this undermining you and your relationship. Good suggestion above about other ways of communicating but your DH needs to show you that he is making a REAL effort so that you might forgive the odd lapse. Talk this through with DH in a calm but serious and open manner.

toomanystuffedbears Tue 08-Sep-09 00:32:36

Hi oneplusone,
My husband does this too.

;;;sigh;;;

He'd come home from work and I'd ask: How was your day? "delightful" (meaning not)
ok, no conversation there. Maybe once every other year, he'll share something about work.

He talks on the phone to his folks (out of town) for an hour and a half. I say, so how are things in Inlawburg? "Same old stuff".

It is like I'm not there; as if he heard a noise and his response is a reflex as if swatting at a gnat or something.

On top of this- he is a govt. employee very well versed in giving vague, non-comittal answers:
What would you like for dinner? He says: "yes". Do you want milk or water? "that's fine".
or on federal holidays-he will sometimes work-so I asked if he was going to work on Monday. He says "I'm not going to work on Sat and Sun." So I am learning a bit and come back with, I asked you about Mon, not Sat/Sun. He pauses interminably, so I roll my eyes/walk away-then he says he'll have to go in on Mon.

The only time he listens is when I'm doing the dishes and talking to myself rather under my breath (nearly a wisper with the water running...), I swear, he will pipe up with a "what are you saying?"

20th anniversary this December.
That is just the way he is. I do it back to him occasionally, and he/we laugh a bit, a very little bit.

I'm not depending on him for my internal sense of happiness, iykwim.

toomanystuffedbears Tue 08-Sep-09 00:45:28

Sorry, no advice for you in that post oneplusone.

You understand that your feelings are valid p-e-r-i-o-d. So dh's being dismissive of your feelings is probably the core problem that is manifested in his not listening to you.

Has his care worn out? It is difficult having depression, but it should be considered what his perspective/experience was during that dark time as well.

Perhaps his level of responsiveness has become habit and you need to exclaim that you have moved into a new era: Literally announce to him that you have a message for him, ask if he is ready to receive it-you have his attention-then announce the change you want. This is very formulistic, but when you are scraping the bottom of the gravel pit...it is worth a try.

You can't really force him though. But give it time. Give him a compliment, see if he listens to that. wink

TDiddy Tue 08-Sep-09 00:54:46

toomanystuffedbears - you are very funny grin. But spot on.

thumbwitch Tue 08-Sep-09 01:03:57

toomanySB - you are funny but your post is also a bit for you.. GLad you can deal with that level of response so well.

Although - it is an idea to chuck random shocking things into the conversation to see if he is half-listening - as in, "we went to the park today <him glazing over> and DC did so-and-so and then an enormous black hole opened up under the climbing frame and the Lord of Darkness came up and ate this person's pushchair!" see if he notices.grin

(note - am not making fun of your situation. Am trying to suggest a way forward for you to make you feel better)

NotPlayingAnyMore Tue 08-Sep-09 09:57:30

It seems to me that he won't listen until the times at which either

a) he wants something (sex)

b) he wants to prevent you from thinking that he's not someone you wouldn't leave (by being suddenly able to have serious conversations, but not until letting things get to that point).

candyfluff Tue 08-Sep-09 10:00:24

i have a very good friend who does this also ,i find it very annoying so symapthise with you

slug Tue 08-Sep-09 10:29:24

You could use the old teacher trick of stopping mid conversation and ask "Are you listening? What did I just say?"

Perhaps you could draw him a diagram. You talking>him not listening> you feeling belitled> him wanting sex> you not wanting sex with someone who bleittles you.
You talking>him listening>you feeling treated as an equal in the marriage>him wanting sex>you reciprocating.

SolidGoldBrass Tue 08-Sep-09 10:31:53

I do think it's possible, though, that the H's patience has worn a bit thin. Not only is it hard to live with someone who is depressed, but it's difficult to remain constantly attentive to someone who never stops talking about fuck all.
This is not, specifically, a man-woman thing as I have little or no patience with witterers. Also, does your H have to listen to a lot of unimportant bollocks at work ie is he in some customer service job? That would also make him inclined to want a little quiet time rather than more talk.
Oneplus, have you tried negotiating with your H? Say, when he comes in from work he gets an hour's peace but then he gives you an hour's concentrated listening? I think you have to be pretty specific but also to be fair you have to respect his right not to be yakked at constantly. Some people like to talk endlessly, other people like to have some space for their own thoughts. Neither type is 'better' than the other, but when they live with each other they have to learn to compromise.
You do describe your interaction with your H not so much as you being starved of conversation which is a two-way thinb, but it comes across in your posts that you want to talk endlessly at him and TBH I can see why he might be resistant to this.

oneplusone Tue 08-Sep-09 14:45:21

Hi all, sorry I disappeared, pc crashed.

Have only had time right now to skim through your responses, but thank you very much for your suggestions.

I am not someone who talks all the time, I am fairly quiet most of the time. So that's what makes it worse really because I don't just talk non-stop all the time in which case I think DH could be forgiven for sometimes not listening. The sort of things I am talking about are where I want to tell him about something funny or interesting or unusual I saw/heard/did and I start saying something, DH seems to be listening, but then all of a sudden he'll walk off whilst I am still talking, get distracted by a plane flying overhead, suddenly become engrossed in a previous boring tv programme.

The reason it upsets me so much is because to me it seems deliberate, a way of demeaning me, humiliating me. He interrupts a lot as well and talks over me. He says he doesn't mean to do it, that sometimes he does 'drift' away from what I am saying because of things he is thinking about which could be work related or other worries.

He says he is willing to try and change but I have to help him by jokingly and nicely pointing out to him each time he does this. But I can't be joking and pleasant as I am really hurt and upset every time it happens.

I think being starved of adult company during the day is part of the problem but even aside from that, i don't expect DH or anybody really to walk off whilst I am talking or make it obvious they find the tv/anything else more interesting and engaging than me. It could be that I'm boring, but I honestly don't talk that much and when i say something it is because i think it is funny/interesting etc. I don't just endlessly drone on about every little thing, sometimes i wish i was that sort of person but I really am not, i just don't do small talk.

SolidGoldBrass Tue 08-Sep-09 15:22:24

OK oneplusone, it is of course possible that your DH is being an arse - maybe he is of the type that thinks 'women talk crap all the time and it's only worth paying attention when I want a shag'.
but it's also possible that you are so starved of adult company that you are getting more hurt and upset than it merits, ie he is listening to you quite a lot of the time but you are over-noticing the times he is distracted.
I think whatever the actual state of play is, you need some more adult company. It;s not good for anyone to be cooped up alone all day and reliant on one other adult for conversation and stimulus.
What is there in the way of toddler groups near you? Are there any clubs or organisations for hobbies etc that are suitable for attending with small children?
INteracting with other adults will boost your confidence so that you can either tell your H to stop being a nobber, or no longer feel the need to talk to him about stuff that he is not interested in because you have enough other people to talk to.

dittany Tue 08-Sep-09 15:39:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gettingagrip Tue 08-Sep-09 15:56:21

Oneplusone

Does he do this with anyone else? Has he always done this?

What he is doing is 'tuning out' of your conversations.

I think this is very demeaning for you. What is he like in other ways?

My mother does this....she talks over me and everybody.... she doesn't listen to a word anyone else says...you can actually see her tuning out...but she has a personality disorder and she does it to everybody.

Does he expect you to listen to him when he speaks?

Sorry for you...it is very disrespectful.

mathanxiety Tue 08-Sep-09 17:01:49

He is also defining (it's all in your head), taunting (does it repeatedly despite knowing how it hurts) and countering (you have to stop me in a nice way and get my attention again). This is abuse -- thanks for this link Dittany.

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