Eye contact

The  "H" for my husband is in his eyes. He has difficulty maintaining eye contact and seems to not be paying attention. I realize that for him to concentrate he has a hard time listening or talking while he's looking at someone. I recently realized that I don't feel like he's paying attention to me or really ever fully engaged. When he does make eye contact it feels much better to me, like I matter. We are wonderiG if anyone can offer some exercises for us to practice on having more eye contact or any suggestions on how to improve this?

Speaking as the wife of

Speaking as the wife of someone with ADHD and the mother of a son who is autistic, eye contact is only important to those of us who are talking to them. It is a well known fact that children with autism to not make eye contact because if they are focusing on LOOKING at something, then they have a harder time focusing on LISTENING to the person speaking. Sensory overload. They are listening, but cannot look and listen at the same time. My ADHD husband has stated he has some similiar issues...but I think it is selective. LOL

If he's listening, I wouldn't care if he's looking. Being in a room with as few distractions as possible might help...

Look Me In The Eyes


This sounds like your husband may be along the Asperger's end of the autistic spectrum, himself. There is a GREAT book titled "Look Me In The Eye" written by a gentleman who grew up with Asperger's. To hear it from his point-of-view is (sorry for the pun), but, very eye opening!!

I think my husband's is

I think my husband's is selective, meaning he only avoids  making eye contact when the subject matter is 'deep', otherwise he has no problem looking at someone and speaking to them. I only ever heard of his supposed 'problem' with eye contact during a counseling session when we were asked to face each other and talk to each other. He insisted he couldn't. He already knew about the autism thing, how they are listening even when they aren't looking at you and how making eye contact can distract their ability to listen...and I honestly just think he used it as an excuse to avoid the exercise the counselor suggested. I have made a very honest effort to never second guess him when he says something, or to never assume I know him better than he knows himself...purely as an attempt to try and respect him as a husband the way God wants me to. But, I paid close attention to many conversations when he was looking me right in the eye and speaking. Of course the conversation was 'light' and usually about him. 

My son, on the other hand...who truly is autistic...rarely makes eye contact at all...but listens just fine. 

However...it is NOT uncommon

However...it is NOT uncommon for him to be fidgeting with his phone, watching TV, or doing some other equally distracting thing when I am trying to talk to him. From very early on in our marriage, he would call me...but I could tell he wasn't listening...and I would say "honey, are you on your computer?" and sure enough he was. If I am talking to him and not getting his attention, I just quit talking to him. 


Listening is still difficult for me... I know if I am to have a chance at remembering anything, or keeping up with a conversation, I must put down the phone, close the laptop, pause the TV for the duration of the conversation. Eye contact is a MUST for me or I could lose focus and miss the last comment and risk letting on that I was not paying attention for any period of time. 

I believe it is a common

I believe it is a common symptom of ADD or ADHD. It is where the 'Squirrel!!' humor comes in. Anything in eye shot attracts our eyes. That's just the way it is. No Autism ... just ADD. Your eyes do the same thing as your brain ... jump around. It isn't intentional to ignore anyone or to make things less important.

My husband and I both have ADD. He can look me in the eye but he's glazed over after 4 seconds. I, on the other hand, cannot stand still or keep my eyes still when someone is talking. It's not disrespect by any means. At least not from my point of view.

I agree that this might just

I agree that this might just be really hard for your husband to do.  For a while it was driving me batty that my husband wouldn't look at me while we were eating supper (we sit across from each other); he would look down, up, or, worst for me, close his eyes!  I suggested to the family that we rearrange seating, because that would have put me across from one of our daughters and him across from the other, thus also helping to avoid the fights my daughters have about their own expressions while conversing.  But apparently 18 years of seating a certain way at the table cannot be tampered with!  Now, I try to bite my tongue and remind myself that there are indicators other than eye contact that people are paying attention.

summerwine's picture

Eye contact is hard for us.

Eye contact is hard for us. Its hard to keep your eyes in one place and there are other things happening and moving around and I'm trying to read your other body language and stuff at the same time. The eyes don't tell me much. I don't hear you better if I look in your eyes. Your husband can practice looking in your eyes more often and for longer but you need to also allow that people are different and he isn't an eye contact kind of guy. I am listening when I am looking at nothing like the floor or the table and fidgeting. Keeping my hyper body busy and my eyes at rest so that I can listen and think.

Hobbit girl, you are like my

Hobbit girl, you are like my long lost twin. My husband does this all the time, and the other night we were out and he was doing it, so I turned around and started doing it right back to him, looking at the signs on the wall, the ceiling, anything but him. I was still listening and nodding, and could see out of the corner of my eye that he started following my eyes around to see what was distracting me. I kept an open smile on my face and kept nodding my head the whole time, and he quickly caught on to what I was doing and why. I thought he would get upset and think I was trying to teach him some sort of "lesson", but he didn't, and said he understood what I was doing and didn't like how it made him feel (that I wasnt listening) and that he would try better. Baby steps right? If you do try this, I would just be careful of facial expressions and continue to nod your head. He will get the message. Hopefully your husband has an open mind and wont lash out or anything. Obviously don't try this if you think that will happen. 

summerwine's picture

I'm glad he took it well

I'm glad he took it well because I would assume that you were making fun of me! Too used to being picked on I guess.