How to Deal with an Insensitive Husband
A common complaint of many wives and a popular cliché is that husbands are insensitive, but how is this problem solved from both spouses’ perspectives? Is this a plague or is there something greater going on in the way we all communicate, men and women, married and in relationships, alike?
In a general sense of the term, insensitivity is a lack of consideration or feeling for another person. In a marriage, the perception that your spouse is routinely insensitive to your feelings can lead to marital distress with potentially long-lasting negative effects. Perhaps, you feel your husband doesn’t empathize with your concerns or give you encouragement when you need it.
The question becomes: If he does care, why doesn’t he express it (the way you think he should)? This lack of communication can cause you to feel slighted and disconnected. To promote constructive dialog with your husband, you must understand the dynamics of your marriage and how to tackle the patterns that lead to the breakdown of communication.
Understand the dynamics of your marriage and any patterns that lead to his insensitivity by creating a journal of the conflicts. This exercise will focus on the events as each occurs and assist you in examining how you alone can affect a change in your interactions with him. Keep the journal factual. Write down what started the disconnect and what was said by the both of you. Also, formulate an alternative dialog focusing on how you might have responded differently to him and changed the outcome. Looking at how you could have reacted will finetune your own problem-solving skills. Not all battles should be fought each and every time there is a disagreement, so choose wisely how you will react in an effort to brighten the majority of your interactions.
Identify what precedes his insensitivity and try to discuss it with him diplomatically. Making negative remarks and demanding a change in the spouse are behaviors that tend to precede withdrawal and passive inaction from the other spouse, according to Frank Fincham, Department of Psychology, University of Buffalo, in “Marital Conflict: Correlates, Structure, and Context.” Steer clear of pointing your finger at him and try to find out why he is shutting down. If you discuss with him what leads to his seemingly uncaring demeanor, you will be in a better position to solve the root problem that leads to your own dissatisfaction and his responsive insensitivity.
Seek out marital therapy. Dealing with an insensitive husband can be a tough nut to crack on your own, because it leads to a breakdown in productive communication and a higher incidence of conflict. You bring up a topic that is important to you, he sits quiet or gives you a cursory response and you respond negatively. This cycle can consistently repeat over the course of your marriage. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to address this type of marital distress by “learning to communicate and problem solve,” as discussed in an entry entitled, “Marital Distress,” by The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. (3) Therapy can assist with opening up the lines of communication. However, if he chooses not to attend therapy with you, the AAMFT, as well as other experts, suggests that you should attend therapy with or without your spouse. Marina Benjamen, Ph.D. states in “Marriage Myth: Spouses Can’t Change” on PsychCentral.com, “our capacity to change others is entirely based on our willingness to change ourselves.” In therapy, you can work to improve your side of the dialog with your spouse thereby changing the way you two communicate, which powerful within itself.
It would be helpful to speak with a professional that can assist you in setting a limit on the length of time you will continue to work on your marriage with no noticeable change in your spouse. If you go it alone without expert advice, you may hastily decide you’ve waited long enough for him to change and constantly bring up the topic of divorce or you may continue trying until you are mentally and emotionally exhausted. Diligently working on your marriage is necessary, though you must know when to switch gears and try something new as a team. And, never, ever accept any form of abuse — no one deserves or should accept physical, mental or emotional abuse. Seek immediate assistance if you live in fear of your spouse for you are worthy of real love that comes with kisses and warm hugs.
While Fate and a little courage to discover what love has to offer may have connected you two together, the stresses of daily life can weigh heavily on even the most loving and strong relationships.
- Be kind when it’s easier to mean.
- Be warm when being cold feels more comfortable.
- Be loving when rejection feels justified.
Before you retreat into your self-defensive zone and rebuild your walls of resentment, ask yourself if you have given all you can, tried hard enough, and loved long enough, because it’s not always him and it’s not always you that’s being insensitive or demanding. All of us fall prey to our egos.
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- PsychologicalScience: Marital Conflict: Correlates, Structure, and Context; Frank Fincham, Department of Psychology, University of Buffalo [http://www.psychologicalscience.org/journals/cd/12_1/Fincham.cfm]
- AAMFT: Marital Distress; The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy [http://www.aamft.org/imis15/Content/Consumer_Updates/Marital_Distress.aspx.aspx]
- PsychCentral.com: Marriage Myth: Spouses Can’t Change; Marina Benjamen, Ph.D. [http://psychcentral.com/lib/marriage-myth-spouses-cant-change/00021]