Recently I was contacted by one of my readers whose husband, as she described, acts like he hates her.
She was telling me that they have been married for about nine years and it seemed to her that all the air was out of the marriage balloon.
It is not entirely unprecedented for a couple to get into an argument which leads to one or both telling the other, “I hate you”.
These flames of passion can easily arise when a husband and wife are angry with each other. I am sure you have been in a fight with your husband and I bet some of the worst and ugliest of language emerged.
What usually happens when this occurs?
Well, generally, when one spouse is attacked, it will result in a counter attack and sometimes the fight spirals out of control and ugly and spiteful words are hastily and thoughtlessly made.
Your husband might say he can’t stand you….that he despises you. Your husband might say its all over and he wants nothing to do with you.
Of course, language like this is ugly and hateful and represents the darker side of a relationship. Such careless words are things no loving partner ever wishes to hear.
But in this case, my client was adamant that something else was going on and that over time, while it evolved slowly, she was assured that there was something else going on that would cause her husband to act like he just hated being around her.
I asked what made her think this way and she responded as such:
My husband and I were very close in the beginning of our marriage but something happened along the way….maybe about 4 to 5 years into our marriage…where my husband just seemed to not want to spend time with me. When I would talk about my day, he would seem to do everything to cancel me out, not listening to what I was saying.
It just seems that when I try to engage with him, he hates talking to me or hearing about my worries and concerns. The whole relationship seems to have changed from one where we could talk things out and share in our feelings to one where he would just rather play video games or go out with his buddies.
What am I doing wrong that causes my husband to hate being around me? Our sex life is OK and when something really important happens, he is there for me, but more often than not, I get this feeling that he hates having to deal with any of my anxieties and if the discussion turns to a serious topic, he just seems to hate dealing with the subject.
I think my husband still loves me, but sometimes I also think we have a love – hate relationship and I am just not happy with the course our marriage has taken. I don’t think I have done anything in particular to cause him to act like he hates discussing things with me or being around with me, He use to take take me out for fun activities, but that kind of spontaneity has disappeared in our marriage.
We use to do these kind of things but now it seems that it is such a stretch for my husband to want to have much of anything to do with me unless it is absolutely necessary. Does he really hate me? He does sometimes acts like he despises me. Is he bored with me? What can I do to turn this around.
I want my husband back, just the way he was in the early years of our marriage. I know I have some insecurities and I hate that about myself, but I also know that I am a good person and care about making my husband happy. We don’t have any children, but we have discussed that and I really want to build upon our marriage. Could he be secretly harboring hateful feelings for me because I want kids? It seems that anytime I bring up that topic, he slides away into another conversation or literally walks into another room and starts doing something else. Help me with my situation, please!
Does Your Husband Really Hate You?
As you can see, marital relationships can get tough and knowing what your husband is really thinking and really wants can be challenging.
For this individual, it is clear she is picking up on serious negative signals that her husband is projecting and when she adds it all up, her fear is that her husband must harbor some hateful feelings toward her and that their marriage is headed for ruin.
My advice to this wife was to slow things down. At least in terms of how she was processing everything. I explained to her, “no, I don’t think his changed behavior was a figment of your imagination.” I explained that there seemed to be enough signs that point to some kind of “dislocation” in the marriage.
I think it is a big jump to conclude that a husband has “hatred in his heart” for her just because she sense’s he is pulling away emotionally and in some cases physically.
In her case, I think was important to take a timeout from all of the pent up negative energy she was processing as it related to her husband’s state of mind.
It is true that in some relationships, a husband can act out on something that is on his mind and hateful behaviors will emerge. That is different than the husband have hatred for his wife.
Sometimes mean and spiteful behavior can be exhibited during a fight or around some other serous conflict between the wife and husband. Sometimes the problem stems from some deeply held resentments that have yet to surface, but need to be dealt with.
It is even possible that the feelings she is picking up on are a projection of the husband own feelings for himself. He may be hiding a secret truth for which he feels shame.
Such are the vagaries of the human mind. So much can be going on behind all of the words and actions.
I acknowledge that husbands all over…guys in general…can be hard to read.
So let’s assume that you have a situation with your husband where his behavior as represented by his words, tone, and actions, seem somewhat out of character.
I think even as well as you know your husband, there will always some cases in which how he thinks and processing certain things will be difficult for you to wrap your mind around.
Part of the reason why it may be difficult for you to get a handle on what your husband’s true feeling are is because you are approaching this situation from the perspective of a woman.
I know….I know….you really don’t have much of a choice in the matter.
You see things through the lens of a woman, because after all, as your husband’s wife, you are a woman and processing things from a female perspective. You see your husband withdrawing his affection and may think he might be falling out of love with you. Not that you really believe it, but the thought might flash through your mind.
In another situation, you may feel assaulted by your husband’s mean spirited words when he is angry and may erroneously conclude he must hate you or at least can barely tolerate you.
Sometimes when things happen such that we begin to question the “love” within the marriage, our emotional side of the brain (right side) can immediately jump to the worst of conclusions.
And it is that part of our brain that tends to run amok anyway. While the left side of your brain, the analytical and rational part of your mind, will seek to influence your perception of things, it is the right “emotional” side that can take us down the wrong path.
It is entirely possible that your husband is hiding hateful feelings and directs them at you, his wife, in subtle ways.
But it is more likely that it is not hate that your husband has for you, rather it is probably something else, less dramatic and serious that is going on.
Guys can get upset and annoyed with their wives, particularly after the couple has been together for a number of years. Some guys who are less secure with who they are can act out and behave in a manner that can be mistaken for hatefulness.
Of course, this is not an all exclusive club. Wives can also frequently get annoyed and angry with their husbands for all kinds of reasons.
How Your Husband Views The World Around Him
Let me give you some insight into how guys process information and how they tend to hide their feelings.
Many men wish to feel independent and capable of handling all situations. They often internalize a lot of these feelings. When their desire to manage and control such things meets with failure or difficulty, they will become upset.
Their ego can take a blow. When these feelings unfold and are coupled with other things that might be going on his life, he can behave badly.
There is selfishness in that behavior. While I have not done any major, exhaustive studies in the matter, my feeling is that men are somewhat more selfish. It may very well be a relic from our evolution as a species.
Sometimes those upset feelings will cross over into the relationship with their wife. As a result, the wife may think she is to blame for something. And with her not realizing the scope of how guys process and internalize their feelings, she may erroneously conclude that something is wrong with the marriage.
She may ask herself, why is my husband acting so hateful towards me?
The fact is that often, when things go wrong and your husband’s expectations for himself are falling short of his aspirations, he will strike out at whatever is closest to him.
This is often the wife.
He doesn’t want to blame himself or take responsibility for his behavior in that moment. So he does what is selfish and easiest to do. He strikes out at the one he loves.
Is that where the phrase, “crazy in love” came from?
So while it is not too surprising that many wives can get caught up in this vortex of male internalized emotions, they should recognize what these emotions and behaviors are really all about.
The wife should not try to embrace these feelings as something that she may be responsible for. Often, the situation is the husband trying to work through his feelings. And he may not be very open about talking about it.
If you get in the way of that, you may feel like you are being bulldozed by hateful vibes. And sometimes no matter what you do or say to help sooth your husband or understand the genesis of these feelings, it is best to let these feelings run their course and try not to embrace them on a personal level.
I realize that can be difficult when you are in the marriage line of fire. Sometimes it is best to just give your husband room to roam. Give him some distance. In some of these situations the husband will find his way back to you with a much better temperament. With apologies in hand.
Let me underscore something clearly.
There is no excuse for any husband to lob verbal hate bombs at his wife. And if that is is the case, then you should adopt a zero tolerance policy.
If the emotional hate language rises high, then walk away….leave the room….leave the house.
Think of it as a marriage timeout. Whether it is for a few hours or even a few days, don’t make yourself a target for such behavior. There is no reasoning with a husband who is bombarding you with hateful language or making ugly assertions.
No spouse should speak to another in such terms and so don’t stick around if such is the case.
Now, I am not suggesting you need to end the marriage or separate for good. My remarks are focused on this particular hypothetical situation I was describing.
The bottom line is if you really feel you are the recipient of any kind of hateful language or behavior, then remove yourself from the environment. Anything short of that is enabling the husband to continue to release whatever inner demons he may have caged up inside.
Now, I have an important qualifier to make, just to be sure we are all on the same page.
The vast majority of husbands do not spew hateful speech. And the few times that they do usually does not mean they hate their wives.
How a husband speaks his mind versus the actual core thoughts and inner beliefs he possesses are not necessarily the same thing.
So if you are not feeling the love from your husband in great quantities lately and if you think he seems to act like he hates you, think again.
You are probably wrong.
There is usually a lot more going on and what you are witnessing probably has a lot less to do with you, than other things. You may be seeing just the tip of his emotional iceberg.
Don’t think that everything underneath that is directed at you. He may be boiling over and you are catching some of that wrath, but more often than not, there are other drivers contributing to his behavior.