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chinchin31's avatar

My husband does not listen. It is putting a strain on our marriage. What should I do?

Asked by chinchin31 (1748points) January 11th, 2018

My husband always forgets to do things that I ask him to do, even in relation to our child. I even ask him to repeat what I said and he does but he still does not do it. It is really driving me nuts and I am either thinking that he has a learning disability or just has no respect for me or a very selfish person. It is really causing tension in our marriage. If I confront him about it he just says he is not a good listener and that I should write it down. This really hurts me. Why does he not write it down if he knows he has a problem? It is driving me nuts. What should I do? I just feel like he is old enough to figure out how to make sure things get done. He is good at his job so why can he not apply the same approach to remembering things to be done at home? I am very hurt and frustrated. I feel disrespected.

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33 Answers

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

You answered your question. Write a book and give him a copy. You can make a bit of scratch writing a book for all men. You can write on Amazon or a free publishing company like Blurb.

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chyna's avatar

Have you tried to write notes? Like if you want him to take out the trash, put a note on the refrigerator.
I agree that this is ridiculous to have to write notes for him to remember everyday duties.
Maybe you should try to go to marriage counseling.

longgone's avatar

I bet there’s an app you could use for that – some shared notepad option. Make sure it’s not overwhelming though. I’ve been much more organized ever since I started a running to-do list. Whenever I think of something that has to be done, my only job is to write it down. Every day, I check off five items – and whatever doesn’t make the cut gets transferred to the next day. I make sure to only put important things on my list as that helps me take it seriously.

Maybe a similar setup would work for you? If there’s a little bit to be done every day, you both will get in the habit of staying focused. Plus, things creep up on you less frequently.

I’m forgetful myself, so I know what it’s like to disappoint people. Try not to let this hurt you. It’s just chores he’s forgetting about, not you.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I could write a wall of text about this. My guess is he is not really being disrespectful. He feels you are nagging and you feel he is ignoring you. Men think differently when it comes to things like this and I have tried to explain why this is to my wife and I cannot get her to understand because explaining cannot do it justice. It is a different language. Men do have a learning disability when it comes to communicating with women but not so much with each other. We have one possibly two communication lines that we can focus attention to. That attention is absolute and nothing else gets in. We are hard wired for this and there is simply no changing it. You have to learn to work around it. Best I can tell women have numerous communication lines that they can focus attention on but the focus is not so intense so it is easier for them to “fit things in out of sequence” my wife can keep up with a TV show and converse without effort. I can only focus on one thing at a time so I either have to drop what she is saying to focus on a key plot point in a movie or drop the movie and listen to her. I cannot do both.
When you ask him to do things is it right when he comes home from work? Is he working on something else? Are you asking for multiple things? Are you explaining why. I’d start by giving him a list of reasonable things you want done. A list. On paper. If you want it to be even more effective explain why. This puts it into perspective. If men think about what the purpose is then we tend to remember it. I don’t know what your hubby is like but based on what you are writing there is a good chance he feels you are nagging and that is almost a guarantee it will get ignored because the focus will be on “nagging” and not what you are asking. I bet a paper list handed directly to him in a loving manner will get you the results you want and potentially even more.

marinelife's avatar

Can you get him to try counseling?

KNOWITALL's avatar

My husband has epilepsy and forgets a lot, some people, especially with ADD or head injuries, also have tendency to have short-term memory loss. If it’s affecting your marriage, you need to try different things, to see what works for you two.

In my case, my husband is restricted in some areas, like bank accounts and medicines, and I have also taken a few additional responsibilities due to his diagnosis. It kind of hurts his feelings at times, but he knows it’s all for safety and due only to his medical issues.

canidmajor's avatar

Is there any way you can find out why? If he does his job well, why can’t he translate that to home? You are not his mother or his teacher, all of the emotional labor should not be on you.
This article discusses emotional labor, and if he really doesn’t get the concept, it might be a good idea for him to read it.
Unless there is some kind of neurological and/or psychological issue involved (in which case he needs to be diagnosed and treated), as an adult he needs to step up and behave like one.
Let him know that this is affecting your feelings about the marriage, and that counseling may be in order.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@chinchin31 Also what is his age group? Many people that I’ve seen, even friends, tend to find their thirties a challenging time of change. No longer young and wild, trying to settle down and maybe realize spending a Friday or Saturday at home with the wife and child a real burden. Could just be maturing pains? Without knowing him or his maturity level, hard to say, but women do tend to mature more quickly.

seawulf575's avatar

Just a thought…is your husband distracted by something? Stress at work? Things bothering him? Has he always been like this or is it a recent thing? I have found in my own life that I have acted like your husband at times. Yes, it drove my wife crazy as well. But really, I was distracted and somewhat depressed. I wasn’t doing it because I didn’t love her or because I felt like she didn’t deserve respect. I just really couldn’t help it. Maybe talking to him instead of trying to fix him?

Kardamom's avatar

I would suggest first making him an appointment with his primary care physician, and going to the appointment with him. He may have a medical situation that is causing this problem. Can you track when this started, or had he always been like this?

If the doctor determines that there is no medical problem, I would then suggest making an appointment for both of you to see a therapist, specifically a couples counselor. If your husband refuses to go with you, make an appointment to see a therapist on your own, they might be able to help you to either alleviate some of the problems (by using some different techniques than you have been doing), or to give you some tools for coping if there isn’t anything to help change his behavior, or to help you make a decision to leave your husband.

My good friend is dealing with this right now. Her husband is only 39, and didn’t used to be like this, but a year ago he was in a terrible bicycle accident (he was hit by a car) and now has a traumatic brain injury. It’s very sad and upsetting. I hope you both are able to get some relief.

Keep us in the loop.

chinchin31's avatar

He is in his late thirties

marinelife's avatar

If he has always been this way (but it would also be affecting him at work), he might also have Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, in which case, medication would really help him.

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chinchin31's avatar

I notice it more now that we have a child.. because now we have joint responsibility for something so I have to often ask him to do stuff. I just feel like he only thinks about himself. I am not the only one that noticed it. My parents commented on it too. So i know I am not crazy.

marinelife's avatar

@chinchin31 Sorry, some people on this site tend to be a little judgmental.

chinchin31's avatar

For example what I really find hurtful is that I would give him instructions in relation to feeding our child and he would forget what I said. I find this really unacceptable because when it comes to his own hunger.. he never forgets. Sometimes he would even leave the child to cry while he finishes his lunch. I would always make sure that our child is fed before I feed myself.

canidmajor's avatar

@chinchin31: I really do appreciate your frustration. I hope you read the article I posted. The idea that grown men who hold down responsible jobs, and can manage their hobbies and interests, are incapable of having an equal responsibility in the “at home” world is ludicrous. Men handle their home lives fine when they don’t have partners. Widowed men raise children alone without partners. The idea that men are somehow “wired differently” is silly, and frankly insulting to men as well as women.

There are, of course, extremes in all things, but unless, like I said, he is neurologically and/or psychologically impaired, he just wants to avoid doing stuff. The men who bitch about women “nagging” are, most often, the ones who simply don’t feel they should have to do something.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@chinchin How about having your father have a man to man with him? Maybe your man just needs a friendly kick in the pants! haha

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Not trying to insult you chin but we’re only getting one side of the story here and you’re not providing enough details. You appear to want us to tell you it’s ok to be upset and that may not be the case. The fact that when I tried to explain to you without being judgmental a scenario you may be in and you took offense tells me you are possibly not being sincere about wanting a solution and may just want to either vent or use us to justify your frustration. It’s rarely a one way street. It’s easy to go online, tell your story and get people to justify your frustration but it’s not really helping you or your hubby unless we do more than simply tell you what you want to hear.

chinchin31's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me what is your definition of nagging. Maybe if wives never ask their husband to do anything marriages would be happier. You talk about there being two sides to a story but you directly compare me to your wife and call me a nagger when you do not know more than what i told you. What proof do you have that i am nagging. Define nagging.

chyna's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me I bet a paper list handed directly to him in a loving manner will get you the results you want and potentially even more. Are you living in the 1950’s? Why does any woman have to tip toe on eggshells to get their husband to do his part around the house? And it is not his duty to help around the house, he needs to do his part. I’ll bet he doesn’t “lovingly hand his wife a menu of food he wants to eat when he gets home.”

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I’m not comparing you, I don’t know what the types of things you are asking your husband, what the tone is and the all of the circumstances of your marriage. All that matters.
I’m just offering another perspective. I did not call you a nagger, I said he could percieve it as nagging and that is why it is being ignored. Nobody is assigning blame. No reason to take offense where there is none to be taken. Go to a marriage counselor.

For christ sake where are you getting that. Men are sequential we work better off things like lists. If her hubby is having trouble remembering then why not try a list. It’s got nothing to do with “tiptoeing on eggshells” She has not given us enough information to conclude that he is not doing his part around the rest of the house and we don’t have his side of the story. Enough said.

KNOWITALL's avatar

It really sounds to me that @chinchin is more concerned that he isnt putting their child first. If she cant trust her husband with their child, that is a huge, troubling issue. My besty divorced her husband who was an alcoholic & she couldnt trust him with their children, always had to get her mom to babysit. Sometimes it seems as if the men blame the women for the children interrupting their fun lazy lives.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

of course if that’s the case he should be ashamed.

chinchin31's avatar

Yes. I feel like he puts the child second.

Kardamom's avatar

@chinchin31 I’m sorry to say that he sounds like a man who either didn’t want children, or found out when he had children, that he didn’t want to be a father. And that is a really sad and frightening situation.

One of my friends was married to a man who talked to my friend about having children, but when she actually got serious about planning to have a baby, he became surly and lazy, and would pick fights with her. They ended up getting a divorce after he told her that he didn’t like being married, and didn’t want to stay married or be a father. Your husband may be kind of like that too. Maybe he liked the idea of marriage and children, but the reality of it didn’t make him happy.

It sucks, because unfortunately he is now a father. If you end up getting divorced, he will probably not be much of a father to your child (especially if he isn’t now) and you need to make sure that he pays you child support because you will need it.

I still suggest trying to get him to go to a counselor with you first, if he is suffering from depression, or ADD like @marinelife suggested, there might be medications and behavior modification techniques (as well as parenting classes) that could help. If not, it might be best for you to start looking for a divorce lawyer. I am so sorry.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

“Yes. I feel like he puts the child second”
Not a good sign, this is not what a man does. Is he depressed? Stressed? I’m not the biggest fan of counseling but… you should probably both go to find the root of that behavior.

NomoreY_A's avatar

He should do what I do. When my wife is talking and I’m not really listening, I just pretend to listen, nod in agreement, and say things like emmm hmmm and uh huh. Works for me.

rojo's avatar

This song by John Prine is very relevant to this topic: The Other Side of Town

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