I really am okay when DH isn’t listening to me. Let me explain.

I do love when DH listens to me intently, asks questions, comments thoughtfully. That attention makes me feel loved and supported.

He knows I like to talk. Lord, I like to talk. I talk to him, and at him, about every miniscule thing in my world. But there are times when DH is not really listening. His feedback is distracted, his tone of voice is flat, and he isn’t looking at me. His mind is somewhere else, and I know it. Do I get annoyed? No. Because this is what we have learned after 30 years: a partial effort can be just as important as a sincere effort.

Here is what he has learned: I just need him to be there and, well, sort of listen. DH says, “Uh huh. That’s cool. Huh. Why do you think that is?”–or something vaguely appropriate. To me, he is saying, I hear you, I can’t focus right now, but I want you to know I love you and will give you what you need.

A partial effort can be just as important as a sincere effort

And when I get that distracted feedback, that truly is all I need. I know he’s not fully listening. I also know he is making the effort to listen because he loves me. Maybe I tried to talk to him at an inopportune time, maybe he’s just bored, maybe he’s thinking about his own stuff.

Likewise, if DH is having one of his quiet days, he doesn’t want to talk. He doesn’t want to have to respond to everything I say. So I pull back on my talking because he isn’t there right now. He wants to just…be. So I let him.

I know that in the serious moments, when I’m sad, angry or worried, DH will be there. He will look me in the eye and listen with his heart. Because that’s what we do for one another, talking or not talking. That’s what love is.

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