Why Your Husband Doesn’t Respect Your Boundaries: 5 Reasons

Boundaries are the key to stopping many damaging things that your husband is doing. If your husband doesn’t respect your boundaries, don’t give up. You may just need a few tweaks to get things going better.

husband doesn't respect your boundaries
You can improve your marriage by discovering why your husband doesn’t respect your boundaries

The importance of boundaries in building respect has been known for many years. I find however, that most of my coaching clients are frustrated with the poor results that they have had when they try to implement boundaries with their husbands. It’s not that boundaries don’t work, but that they are not being used properly. By making a few changes, even problems that have gone on for years can be stopped in a relatively short period of time.

Understanding what boundaries are

To properly use boundaries with your husband, it is necessary to understand what boundaries are and when they are used. Boundaries are what we do to stop damaging behaviors done either by ourselves or someone else. If I limit myself to eating only one dessert per week, that is a boundary which stops the damaging behavior of getting too many calories. If I walk away whenever someone uses bad language with me, that is a boundary which prevents disrespect. I don’t have to tell you that I am going to do that. Just by my making the decision and following through, it becomes a boundary. Because boundaries are always things that I do (or don’t do), they are always under my control. No one can prevent me from implementing a boundary.

Five reasons why your husband doesn’t respect your boundaries

Making and using boundaries is a skill that no one is born with. There is a learning curve and a few pitfalls to avoid. Just one of these reasons can help you to have a happier relationship with your husband.

Reason 1: The way you make your boundaries are why your husband doesn’t respect your boundaries

Since boundaries are always about things that are under our control, telling your husband to do or not do something is not a boundary. For example, if you say:

“I want you to stop yelling at me and being mean.”

That is not a boundary because it is completely under his control. You have clearly stated what you want, however he can freely defy you and be mean as it suits him. This is true of any attempt to control your husband by telling him what to do or by pleading with him not to do something. It makes it optional for him. A true boundary, if stated, would be something like this:

“Whenever you yell at me or are mean, I’m going to walk away.”

This is a boundary because walking away is under your control. Also, you are the one who gets to decide what is mean or yelling. Although he may choose to yell or be mean, your walking away is not optional for him. Your walking away whenever he does that builds his respect toward you. It is important that women know how to get their husbands’ respect since it affects men’s feelings of love. They may use a woman they don’t respect, but they will only love a woman they do respect.

Reason 2: The way you implement your boundaries are why your husband doesn’t respect your boundaries

In the boundary example above, the boundary is to walk away whenever he yells or is mean. To be effective with this particular boundary, it is important to: 1) walk away for one hour without further discussion, 2) after returning be friendly again, 3) do not talk about the incident after using the boundary, 4) do this every time he yells or is mean. Many women fail with this boundary because: 1) they only use it sometimes, 2) they walk away for too short of a time, 3) they don’t return to being friendly after returning, and 4) they fail to walk away if their husband challenges them or immediately apologizes. If what he says can stop you from walking away, your husband will not respect your boundaries. They will be of little consequence.

Each type of boundary has requirements in order for it to be effective. Many boundaries are described in detail in my book, What to Do When He Won’t Change.

Reason 3: Your damaging behaviors are why your husband doesn’t respect your boundaries

I have a coaching package that people sign up for when they have a partner who does very damaging things. The essential steps involved are the same, regardless of the partner’s behavior. The first step is always making sure that my client has stopped her damaging behaviors. Understandably, they have in their own defense come to have a number of damaging behaviors as a result of their husband’s bad behaviors. Perhaps they are arguing, criticizing or making their husband’s feel rejected. This partly fuels the continuation of their husband’s bad behaviors–a vicious cycle turning them into roommates. Stopping these behaviors and then using relationship building behaviors sets the stage for then using boundaries with their husbands in a way that will be effective.

Reason 4: Your husband’s lack of concern about your relationship is why your husband doesn’t respect your boundaries

Relationships can become emotionally distant because the amount of conflict far outweighs the amount of connection. They can also become emotionally distant because of a lack of dating in the marriage, daily one on one time, or a dissatisfying sexual relationship. Emotional distance lessens a husband’s concern about what his wife wants because he is not so concerned about saving the marriage. Just as with a child, we need to strengthen our emotional connection before they will care about hurting their relationship with us further. Besides emotional connection, some husband’s don’t respect boundaries because of character problems such as narcissism or antisocial personality traits. Men with these problems won’t just disrespect your boundaries, they will disrespect others’ boundaries as well.

Reason 5: Your husband doesn’t respect your boundaries because he doesn’t know what to do instead.

Intellectual intelligence and emotional intelligence are two entirely different things. I have worked with many men who are widely sought out experts in their field. Yet, when it came to relationships, they had no skills for making their wives feel loved or desirable. When their logical methods did not work, they became frustrated. Some had high conflict while some shut down and avoided. All damaged their relationships. Although their wives used boundaries with them, they just knew they were doing the wrong thing, but did not know what to do instead. Having been a child of physical and emotional abuse, I could empathize with them since I grew up with almost no social skills. As you see, I learned, and they can, too. You can help your husband by including a choice with your boundary. For example:

You can yell at me and I can walk away, or you can tell me what you want instead of what you don’t want.

or

You can sit down with me and work on a budget together or I can open a separate account and manage my finances without you.

Besides boundaries, it is important to use the right love languages with these men. They will need to see how their speaking your love language connects to their getting their needs met as well. Don’t assume that because you have a very smart man, he knows these things already.

Avoid seeing your husband as a bad person trying to make your life miserable

He is no more that than you are. He is doing the best he knows how to do given his particular life experiences, his abilities to cope with stress, his ability to bond with people, his ability to deal with temptation, his fear of losing you, or his fear of growing old and missing out or failing. Your using good boundaries and promoting the connection in your relationship will help your husband to deal with almost all of these aspects. Keep in mind that boundaries are for his sake as much as yours since you use them to promote your relationship. The alternative to using boundaries is always worse. If you want detailed help with using boundaries with your husband, start with a book such as What to Do When He Won’t Change, and then if you get stuck or need further help one on one help is available with my coaching package, Restoring Love with Difficult Spouses. Imagine how much having good boundaries could improve your marriage.