Do you ever get the feeling that your husband is simply sick of you?
Do you ever feel that it could be over?
Or is it possible you are misreading the signs and what is really happening is your husband is simply mad at you?
Or is it possible your husband is really just tired of being married to you?
Everyday I hear from clients who tell me their stories about love and hate and everything in between.
Let’s peel back some of the layers of what can really go wrong within a marriage and discover what you can do about it.
Stories of Love, Hate, and Ungrateful Husbands
Let me give you a sample of what it is like for three of my clients who struggled with trying to read what their husband’s was really thinking. As you can see, this is not an uncommon occurrence for many woman who come to me looking for help. Then later, we are going to dissect the life of yet another client whose husband has taken a change for the worst and she wants to know why and what can be done.
Client 1: The Case of the Husband Who Isn’t Trying
I come home everyday dreading to talk with my husband because it just seems he doesn’t care for me. He seems to go out of his way to ignore my needs. I am just looking for a little empathy and caring, but if you spend much of your life living with a husband who is like a stone wall and doesn’t seem engaged, why even try? I think he quit on our relationship long ago and is just going through the motions. I know I shouldn’t talk or think this way. And I know my husband gets mad at me easily. I confess, I can get really critical of him and we fight. But much of the time it not my fault. When he gets angry, he retreats. Now I am afraid that our marriage is nearly coming to an end. Any day when I get home I expect he is just going to say he is over me and wants out of the marriage. How do I turn this loveless relationship around?
Client 2: The case of a guy who can’t seem to handle the responsibility of child rearing
My husband and I had a huge argument last week. He said he feels differently now after 4 years of marriage and just doesn’t think we click. He claims I manipulated him. He said he feels trapped and really isn’t ready to be a father. He was angry when he said all these things like it’s my fault and I got angry back because I feel betrayed and attacked. It seems terribly unfair for my husband to drop this on me in the middle of my pregnancy. It is our first and I think he is scared. But could it be possible that he is just not into me like before. So much changes when you are pregnant and I really want this baby and I thought he did to. I don’t feel like being intimate with him much of the time and I just feel weary and sick. It’s unfair for my husband to turn away from me. What do you do when you feel things are over? I know he knows better and will probably come back begging for my forgiveness. He is really the needy one. I am just mad that he would behave so irresponsibly. I hate this feeling.
Client 3: The Case of the husband who wants to quit on his marriage
I think our marriage is on its last legs. My husband cares little for me and is just mailing it in. He has been repeating the same thing over and over again about he is just not feeling it anymore and that our love is not of the romantic kind. I quit sleeping with him. I know that has turned him away, but I got angry and just don’t want to be in the same room as my husband. He says that we are going to have to talk about things, but never really follows through. I married this man thinking he would always be there for me. But I just don’t think he wants this to work bad enough. What do you do when your man is not even trying. I am thinking I shouldn’t even try anymore, but much of the time I hold on to hope that something will change. My husband and I are just going through the motions. We might as well be brother and sister. Is there anything I can do to turn around this awful marriage?
What Can You Do When Your Husband Doesn’t Seem To Care?
How should you deal with a situation involving your husband in which you are convinced that all of the good will that has been built over the years and all of the wonderful moments you both enjoyed together has gone down the tubes?
Should you throw in the towel if you have been getting the vibe that your man just simply doesn’t think of you in the same way?
Maybe it wasn’t much of anything that you did, but when things turned sour why is it that your husband acts like you are always at fault?
So often I see couples whose relationship borders on dysfunction. In many relationships as things start going south, emotional abuse can creep in. In the worst cases, emotional abuse defines the everyday interaction between husband and wife.
Some guys will paint their own picture of what is going on and accuse you of being the source of all of their problems.
Your man may act like he hates and despises you at times.
Maybe he even said as much.
Guys can be cruel and insensitive like that.
They can say things which are hurtful and lack tact, leaving you feeling like you should curl up in a ball.
Take Sally for example.
She had reached out to me and told me her husband was pulling away from her and seemed to always be mad at her.
I asked her to give me some examples of things that could set off his actions.
She explained, now a days, her husband could get hot and bothered about anything. She said she felt like she was walking through a mine field when she was around him.
She paused and said that his inconsiderate and ugly behavior had come about recently and as a result the relationship between the two of them had become frayed.
She explained that he was a sweet and caring man for the first few years of the marriage but things now have disintegrated into bouts of put downs and criticisms.
It is as if something has transformed him she said.
“I can tell when he looks at me, he doesn’t want to be with me.”
“I don’t know what caused him to throw me out of his life-like I am a piece of litter” she exclaimed. “I never thought my husband would be this way with me. He seems fussy and moody a lot and blames me for things that I would never have thought were a bother.”
Wives Too Often Blame Themselves For Their Husband’s Aberrant Behavior
It was after a month of her husband’s apparent lack of interest in her that she began to really doubt if she was the one at fault.
She wanted to be the best wife she possible could be and decided to read up on how to satisfy her husband. She tried new things on the sexual front hoping that might create a spark.
At first it seemed to work, but after a few days he would return to his aloof ways, acting like he did not want to be bothered by her.
It felt horrible, she explained. “I felt like I was becoming a piece of meat for him to enjoy when he wanted to, but there was little he offered up in return.”
It seemed the marriage was evolving into a loveless relationship.
It was like his wife was a nuisance and while the husband would take occasional sexual pleasure in being with his wife, he show little willingness to offer up kind gestures or what she described as the little “loving hugs” she use to get in the past.
I probed to try to better understand what might have triggered her husband lack of enthusiasm for the marriage.
After a lot of crying it became clear to me that she didn’t have any clue.
Obviously, she had racked her brain trying to figure out how her husband, who previously seemed so much in love with her, had transformed after only a few years of marriage into a guy who seemed annoyed with her presence.
She kept coming back to it must be something she was doing wrong and the thought that she was the trigger to the dysfunction in their marriage was taking a toll.
In between sobs, she told me that as best as she can piece it together it didn’t just start-up gradually, but rather it happened somewhat abruptly. She tried to explain the timing of the disenchantment within her marriage but became somewhat confused as uncertain just how it all played out in time.
She placed the beginning of her husband’s “fall from love” (as she called it) when they were out to the movies. It was a small thing she said, but wondered if it meant something. They usually would hold hands, at least for a little bit, she explained. But on this particular night, her husband seemed edgy and nervous about doing even that.
She confessed that everything was so muddled in her mind about his behavior and her behavior that she wasn’t even sure how things all came about.
But she kept coming back to the scene at the movie theater.
She said it was such as simple thing, but it registered as odd and made her feel suspicious.
Later when she brought it up to him it ended up triggering an argument. Her husband accused her of being needy and overly sensitive and instead of offering a real explanation as to why he avoided a simple intimate gesture, he just kept repeating to her that “he was tired of being cornered about everything“.
“It didn’t help”, she said, “that my husband is a sort of control freak. He has to win all the arguments and is never wrong about anything.”
Neither of them got much sleep that night and from then on the relationship became colder as best as she could recall. When she would reach out to show affection or start-up a simple innocuous conversation, he would withdraw or try to retreat. That became his behavior mode and had remained so for the two weeks following the movie incident.
That is when she came to me.
After some more discussion with Sally I asked her if she would be willing to try something else for me.
I could tell she was pretty desperate at this point, even though she joked about her husband being snatched away by the body snatchers.
I laughed and told her it was good to use humor as it would help her cope with the emotional pain and feelings of rejection she was dealing with.
Then I explained that I believed her husband’s behavior had disintegrated into negativity for a clear reason that he was not yet willing to share with her. I reinforced that I didn’t think it was completely due to her or anything she was doing or saying.
In fact, I explained, your actions may have little to do with his poor treatment of you. “Something else may be triggering your husband’s discontent with the marriage” , I explained.
I suspected that whatever the wedge that had come between them, it was not from anything Sally was doing.
What Might Cause Your Husband To Act Differently Toward You?
So I listed out 3 things that might be going on that could cause her husband to seemingly overnight transform from a good and loving husband to a guy who seemed to lack basic empathy for his wife.
I emphasized that the core reason may not be any of these things, but it was more likely the answer could be found in my short list.
She was eager to learn what it could be.
Before we get into the possible causes of the husband demeanor, I explained to her that what will be really important and a real challenge is for her to learn how to create an environment such that her husband would reveal what is really going on.
It is not always an easy thing to get a guy to really open up about what he is thinking and feeling.
“But before we get into all that”, I explained to her, “let’s speculate what it might be that is causing your husband to pull away from you.”
I reminded her that none of these things could be the true. I warned her that some of the possible explanations for his behavior could be upsetting for her to discuss, even if they weren’t true.
So I challenged her to remove her emotions and feelings from the equation as well as she could and approach the conversation we would be having in a clinical way.
“Think of yourself as a detective and you are trying to get to the bottom of why a certain husband is withdrawing his affection from his wife”.
So it was with that in mind we approached the brainstorming part of our discussion. I laid out three possible scenarios that could be occurring and offered up some insights into how they might influence a husband’s behavior.
- The husband may be having a loveless affair that is purely physical. In this scenario, the husband is physically intimate with another woman, but his feelings did not cross over into emotional intimacy. These kind of situations can unfold within a marriage and cause the husband to pull away from their wife. Cognitive dissonance can grip a man in such a way that he rationalizes his actions with upside down reasoning. On one hand, he knows what he is doing is wrong. He knows if found out, it could create a fire storm. When he thinks about it rationally, he also realizes that his actions are creating friction within his marriage. He knows if his actions are discovered he could lose his wife entirely. But despite what his rationale mind is telling him, he goes against the grain of what he knows is the right and smart thing to do. He gives in to the emotionally driven selfish part of him. The other woman may make him feel empowered and satisfy his sexual desires. His ego gets a boost and the thrill of the action he is getting on the side resonates with his inner desire for risk taking.
- The husband may be engaged in an affair in which he believes he has fallen in love with another woman. But often in these cases, the husband still loves their wife and does not want to break up their marriage or family situation. Finding themselves in this limbo land of love and betrayal, the husband will often feel conflicted, even confused. The husband may behave in a Jekyll Hyde type of manner. Some days he will be just fine and the weight of his affair will not cause him to behave very differently at home. But on other days, he might be weighed down by guilt and overreact with positive or excessively negative behavior. Some husbands, when caught in the vortex of passion for their new lover, yet also feeling the connection to their wife of many years, will struggle to reconcile what they are feeling and what they should do. Often, the husband will do nothing to change the status quo. It is as if he is caught up in a wave of pleasure and fear, riding it as far as he can get. Often men facing such a dilemma will decide not to do anything to upset the apple cart, deluding themselves into believing that they can continue having the affair while married without any consequences. The problem with this reasoning is that once you cheat, eventually it will catch up with you in some way. Whether it shows up in the quality of the marriage or throws a guy’s entire life into chaos when the betrayal is outed, sooner or later, there will be a price to pay.
3. There is a meaningful personal issue that the husband is grappling with. Whenever a guy goes from being sweet, loving, and considerate within the marriage to someone who is withholding their affection and pushing away their wife, there is a big disconnect. There is something going on in his life that is impacting his behavior. He is hiding behind something which either he himself is afraid to face or is reluctant to discuss with his wife. While it is possible that a husband can over time change their mind about whether they really truly love their wife, falling out of love with your spouse is a highly unlikely phenomenon unless there is some kind of major transformation or dysfunction within the marriage.
So what is going on then?
When a person starts acting in a way that goes against the grain of their normal behavior, then unless mental illness is involved, then it is very likely there is something that the husband is hiding or avoiding.
Getting Your Husband To Open Up
So the challenge for Sally was to figure out which of these 3 possible scenarios might be occurring. Or if any of these possibilities rang true for her situation.
I warned her that I could be completely wrong about my speculation as to the potential root cause of their marriage decline. I told her I could be way off base in trying to explain why her husband seems to get easily annoyed and angry at her.
But even if our speculations were incorrect, I showed her a technique she could use to help get to the bottom of what is really going on in her man’s mind.
I suggested she pack a few things and set up a reservation at a nearby hotel.
Then I explained she should slip out of her home without her husband knowing and check into the room. Then contact him by text leaving him a cryptic message saying something is really wrong and she needs help.
Give him the address of the hotel and room number and tell him to come over immediately. I told here she can expect that her husband will text back and probably also call her trying to get more information. But I explained that this is where you need to remain diligent and strong and avoid the temptation of talking with him until he arrived at the hotel.
What you are trying to do is control the environment and timing in which you are going to lay down all your cards, simply telling your husband that you know something is really wrong with the relationship and you deserve answers or otherwise, you are not sure what you want to do.
Now some people might think that this approach is a bit too much drama.
But that is the whole idea. If the quality and happiness of your marriage is potentially at stake, in certain situations it may become necessary to construct an intervention that puts the two of your together in a different environment.
While I am not big in ultimatums, you can still convey the urgency of the situation without if coming off as pushy or threatening.
What matters is that the real problem gets aired out so the matter can get discussed and hopefully resolved. Sometimes that doesn’t happen without a strong push.
Now the ball is in the husband’s court. He can either pretend nothing is wrong and keep treating his wife like she has the plague or he can start laying down some of his cards and some “real” communication of what is really going on can ensue.
To make a very long story, short, Sally was able to get her husband to show up and eventually when he realized his wife was serious and was not inclined to leave the hotel room until he opened up, he did just that.
He started talking.
When her husband realized he was getting caught up in the cross fire of something bigger than he ever realized would unfold in his life, he confessed.
For a few months he was getting away with living in his little world of denial and delusion. But he didn’t realize the impact his own actions was having on him, his wife, and the marriage.
It turned out Sally’s husband was having a loveless emotional affair on the side. He confessed he was distracted by a woman in the office he worked in.
According to the husband’s side of the story, this other woman was going out of her way to attract him. Of course, if you simply listened to everything the husband was saying, he was just caught up in an emotional affair and was the victim, not the instigator.
I was not buying it completely and nor was Sally. But without prolonging this post, let me just share that the husband and wife are seeking counseling and at Sally’s insistence, certain measures have been taken to eliminate this outside threat to their marriage.
Sometimes, there is some fire when you see smoke.
But it doesn’t necessarily mean the whole relationship is down the tubes. In this case, just outing the husband’s secret little emotional affair has the effect of putting the spotlight in all the right places, allowing the couple to work on repairing the damage.