The vast majority of people that I hear from do not feel understood or heard by their spouse. I find that many folks do not comprehend just how serious of a problem this might be. Sure, no one is perfect at communicating or at reading someone else’s clues. And sure, all marriages can withstand a few misunderstandings. But if you go through your life, and through your marriage, for any significant period of time feeling constantly misunderstood, this can’t help but have a huge impact on your marriage and how you feel about it. This can be true even if your spouse is sincerely trying to understand, but just can’t. But it’s even more true if your spouse appears to be making no effort whatsoever to try to understood you. It can make you question if he thinks that you are not important enough or not even worth the effort.
For example, I wife might think: “why doesn’t my husband even make the slightest effort to understand me anymore? When we were dating, it was like he was fascinated at what made me tick and what contributed to my happiness. But today, he acts as if I am overly complicated rather than unique and fascinating. I am trying to make some positive changes in my life. And my husband is totally resistant to this because all he can see if that the changes might be putting him out or inconveniencing him some. But what he doesn’t seem to get, or remotely care about, is that the changes are important to me. He doesn’t understand that I need to tweak some things in my life in order to be authentically happy. But he doesn’t take the time to try to analyze my thinking or ask himself what I need in my life. He acts as if I’m only trying to inconvenience him instead. So I’ve tried to explain myself, but I’ll find myself passionately talking about something and I will look over, only to find that my husband is giving me a blank stare. His eyes are sort of glazed over and he is almost slumped down, as if even listening to me is a heavy task for him. It’s so discouraging. It makes me think that he doesn’t care about me at all. Am I wrong in thinking this? Why else would a husband not even make the slightest effort to understand his wife?”
You’re right to be concerned. When you start to see this type of apathy and indifference toward you (or toward what is important to you) it can be sort of warning sign. Not always, of course. But sometimes, it is. That’s why you can’t ever be too careful. I can think of a few reasons that you might be seeing this behavior. I’ll list some of it below. And I’ll start with the most benign and then work my way up down to the most troublesome.
You’ve Caught Him At A Bad Time Or On An Occasion Where He’s Preoccupied With His Own Issues: Sometimes, we just catch our spouse’s at an inopportune time. We all have times in our lives where it’s just not feasible to give someone our undivided attention. How do you know if this is the case? Well, you can ask yourself if this is an isolated incident or if you’ve noticed him tuning you out or not treating you with importance more than this one time lately.
He Doesn’t Really Understand Your Thought Process, So He’s Just Trying To Appear As Attentive As He Can: This one is actually pretty common, especially when we are talking about emotions that are not as natural to men. When we start to discuss deep or emotional thinking, men do tend to tune out a bit, because this is just not how their own brains work. They can’t relate and so they might be staring at you (or looking at you when you’re having a conversation,) but their wheels aren’t necessarily turning. It’s the same with me when my spouse tries to discuss sports. I try. I really do. I even enjoy some sports. But I don’t have the depth of understanding that my husband does, so I try to nod in the right places, but I’m sure my face looks kind of blank. The thing is, I don’t think my husband cares too deeply because, although he love sports, they aren’t vitally important to him – in the way that your authenticity is to you. And, the more important something is to you, the more you want your spouse to “hear” you and to “understand” you. So this was a topic that was already charged for you, but your husband may not have realized it at the time.
He May Be Acting Indifferent To You Because He Is Starting To Lose Connectedness To And Empathy Toward You, Which Is A Warning Sign: OK, I’m only mentioning this because I wish someone had given me the “heads-up” when I was going through something similar. If they had, perhaps I would not have ended up separated. By no means am I saying or suggesting that this is the case with you. I can’t possibly know that. I’m just saying that it’s never a bad idea to take an honest look at your marriage and evaluate this. Because when couples are deeply connected, they at least try to make an effort to understand one another, especially about things that matter in the way that this matters to you. Granted, I glaze over when my husband talks about sports sometimes. But if his voice talks about something that I know to be quite important to him, I sit up and take notice.