You can get your husband’s respect by dealing with his destructive behaviors in an effective way, while also not having destructive behaviors yourself
Many women mistakenly believe that the way to get respect is to tell their husbands what they don’t like about their behavior. In essence–criticizing. Criticizing, though, does nothing to either build respect or change your husband’s behavior. It actually creates more emotional distance. And, the more you criticize, the more respect you will lose until eventually you get none. When your husband no longer respects you, he will no longer love you. You can earn his respect and keep his love. By using boundaries instead of criticizing. By controlling yourself instead of controlling him. By knowing how to respond correctly to what he says and does so that the damage will be stopped.
Get your husband’s respect by becoming effective in your actions
Although no one wants to be controlling, there are ways to get your spouse to change that will help him and you. It simply wouldn’t be loving to allow your husband to do things that hurt you or your marriage. Directly trying to get him to stop a bad behavior is likely to bring resistance or refusal. That will either make you pressure him more or shut down. Either way it’s a respect losing proposition, because it won’t be effective. There are effective ways to stop the damage without being controlling. Effectiveness is absolutely essential for earning respect. If you have been trying for years to get your husband to stop doing something, then the fact that you have been ineffective has lost you respect. He doesn’t have to listen to you because what you say has become unimportant to him.
You can get your husband’s respect by avoiding power struggles
Parents have authority over their children, but marriage partners do not have authority over each other. We can voluntarily submit to our spouses, but we cannot force our spouses to submit to us. Trying to do that would damage our relationship. For example, if we try to punish our partners by withholding love, it will create power struggles. Who can hold their breath the longest? Who can refuse to talk to each other the longest? Who can find the most ways to complain about the other? Punishing our partners ultimately will lead to loveless marriages. The reason is simple. Punishment doesn’t work. It isn’t effective. And so the problems continue. As the problems continue, the punishment continues until one or both partners give up. Many women have practically pushed their husbands out the door with their hostile and punishing behaviors.
Why your husband continues to be disrespectful
Your husband has learned what works to help him to get what he wants and needs in life–from his previous relationships and in his experience with you. He will continue to use those ways in your marriage as long as they continue to work. Nagging, pleading, and angry outbursts are not going to change that. Your nagging will seem like unrealistic expectations to him. Your pleading will seem like you are a lot of work to him. Your threats or angry outbursts will seem like you don’t care about him. He will use all of these reasons to justify what he does. He will vies the answer to your marriage problems as you learning to lighten up and be more caring. That, of course, is not possible if he is doing something which is harmful to your marriage or hurtful to you. This is where wives get angry, frustrated, and feel stuck.
Get your husband’s respect by avoiding standoffs
Parents have authority over their children, but marriage partners do not have authority over each other. We can voluntarily submit to our spouses, but we cannot force submission in our spouse. Trying to do that would damage our relationship. If we try to punish our partners, they punish us back and it leads to a standoff. Who can withhold physical touch the longest? Who can refuse to talk to each other the longest? Who can find the most ways to complain about the other? Standoffs with our partners ultimately will lead to loveless and sexless marriages. As the standoffs continue, one or both people will give up. After that, there is no marriage anymore. If you are not getting respect in your marriage, then probably you either feel like there is a power struggle between you and your husband or it feels like one (or both) of you has given up. You can get your husband’s respect by using boundaries instead of getting into standoffs.
Using boundaries to get your husband’s respect
The best way to understand boundaries is to look at some examples of what is and what is not a boundary. Let’s imagine I have a friend who is always teasing me and calling me “Booger” and I don’t like it. I would ask my friend to stop. That’s a very important step, but it’s not a boundary. If my friend did not stop I could tell my friend to never call me Booger again. That also wouldn’t be a boundary. I could threaten to never speak to my friend again, if he continued to do that, but that also wouldn’t be a boundary. I could do the same thing to him that he is doing to me by calling him a bad name, but that wouldn’t be a boundary. I could warn him that I will end our friendship if he doesn’t stop, but that wouldn’t be a boundary, either. But, if I walked away, went home, hung up the phone, or stopped texting whenever my friend called me Booger, that would be a boundary. Why? Because a boundary is something we do by ourselves, not something we say, and not something we do to other people. Although we may tell other people what we are going to do, if they don’t stop, only the actions are boundaries. It is not the words that you say, but the actions that you take that will get your husband’s respect.
What happens when we apply boundaries?
Let’s continue with the same example. I’m in the mall with my friend. I have asked him before not to call me Booger and he knows I don’t like it. But, he calls me Booger anyway. Without arguing, I immediately leave. His first reaction will be to try to persuade me to stay. Maybe he will apologize. But, as I continue to leave the mall, he will become angry. Why? Because he can’t call me Booger? No. Because he can’t make me stay with him. I choose how I allow people to talk to me. The next time I see my friend, I will be as friendly and nice as can be. I will treat my friend for lunch and work hard on getting along with him. I won’t carry a grudge because I’m not trying to punish my friend. I won’t mention what happened before. The next time we do something together, he is much less likely to call me Booger. If he slips up, even accidentally, I will again leave or end our conversation. Very soon, he will stop calling me Booger forever. Not only that, but we will have an even better relationship because I won’t be resenting him. This is the way boundaries work–we do something by ourselves, the other person gets angry, the other person changes, we have more respect and a better relationship.
Common questions about boundaries
“Can boundaries work for severe marriage problems?”
Absolutely. as I wrote in What to Do When He Won’t Change, whether you have a husband who is angry, selfish, unhappy, or avoidant, the place to begin is with clear communication. This is essential because when you do start using boundaries, your husband will try to make sense of your behavior. Without the clear communication first, he may fear that you are leaving him or like you are trying to control him. Then, you can progress through three levels of personal boundaries. While you are at it, you need to be showing him plenty of love and affection. When women get tough, they often withhold their love and so all they get is resistance. When women are loving, they often aren’t tough enough. By balancing good boundaries with love and affection, conflict is minimized, change happens faster and relationships improve.
“This sounds like the model of good parenting”
It is similar, but different. Parenting is a vertical relationship, and the boundaries are actually rules that children need to follow to avoid consequences. But, in marriage, boundaries are rules that we follow such as never having a discussion when our spouse is angry. We don’t try to stop our spouses from being angry, but we won’t participate in it either. At the same time, we become good listeners and help our spouses to talk to us. We feed our spouse’s love while we stop feeding their unacceptable behavior.
“When is the best time to use boundaries?”
The very first time the relationship damaging behavior occurs and every time thereafter. If a young woman is on a date and the man is rude to her, she should leave immediately. No arguments, and no exceptions. That will stop his rude behavior from becoming selfish and abusive behavior as the relationship progresses. The longer a behavior has gone on, the harder it is to stop. This is because when you let a behavior go on, even if you complain about it, you are demonstrating that you will accept it.
“Do boundaries always work?”
No. Boundaries will not work if your spouse no longer cares at all about you or your marriage. They are still essential, however, to keep you from continuing to get emotionally hurt. Boundaries alone will not rebuild a marriage. You have to be willing to give a lot of love and affection to balance out the boundaries. These don’t happen at the same time, but they both better be happening in your relationship.
“How long does it take to earn respect?”
This varies according to how often the unacceptable behavior occurs. If it happens daily (for example if your husband is yelling at you each day), then you will be applying boundaries daily. In such cases, improvement will be rapid due to the number of repetitions (using the same boundary every day helps your husband to learn to change faster). My clients usually see improvement within two weeks in such situations. If the behavior occurs infrequently (for example, your husband spending all the money on himself once a month), it will take much longer.
“What does your respect building coaching package offer that I can’t do on my own?”
People with minor to moderate problems can often make good improvement on their own. People who have severe marriage problems are usually new to combining boundaries with secure, loving communication. They need a lot of help with how to talk to their husband, how to respond to the kinds of things that their husbands say to them, what kinds of boundaries to make, how to talk about boundaries, and how to be loving with a husband who has some seriously bad behaviors. Coaching helps them to feel sure that they are doing the things in the right way without jeopardizing their marriage. Without help, many people will make one strong attempt, fail and give up on their marriage. My goals is to help people to do behaviors that benefit their relationship. Using good boundaries will help your spouse as much as it helps you. It’s not lack of love that ends most marriages. It’s not knowing how to get the marriage going in a positive direction again once problems reach a certain level. At that point, people need to get away from talking about their relationships (which just makes things worse), and start taking actions, on their own, to rebuild the relationship. Exactly what those actions should be is what my coaching provides.