If your husband doesn’t respect your boundaries, don’t give up. Boundaries are the key to stopping many damaging things that your husband is doing. You may just need a few tweaks to get things going better.
The importance of boundaries in building respect has been known for many years. However, many people are frustrated by poor results from trying to use boundaries. It’s not that boundaries don’t work, but that they must be used properly. By improving your use of boundaries you can significantly improve your relationship.
Understanding what boundaries are
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. It stops the damaging behavior of getting too many empty calories. If I walk away whenever someone uses bad language with me, that is a boundary. It stops the damaging behavior of being disrespected.
We don’t have to explain the actions that we take. Just by my making the decision and following through, it becomes a boundary. Because boundaries are always things that we do (or don’t do), they are always under our control. No one can prevent us from implementing a boundary. A good example of this is looking at how to deal with an angry husband.
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
Boundaries are always actions that are under your 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. Commands, threats, and pleading cannot make him 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 an explanation of a true 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 you know how to get your husbands’ respect since it limits how much your husband can feel in love with you. Men, just like women, find it hard to be in love with someone they don’t 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:
- walk away for one hour without further discussion,
- after returning be friendly again,
- do not talk about the incident after using the boundary,
- do this every time he yells or is mean.
Many women fail with this boundary because they:
- only use it sometimes,
- walk away for too short of a time,
- don’t return to being friendly after returning, and
- 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. For help improving your marriage with boundaries, see my book, What to Do When He Won’t Change.
Reason 3: Your damaging behaviors are why your husband doesn’t respect your boundaries
In relationship coaching, the first step is always making sure that my client has stopped her damaging behaviors. Perhaps she is arguing, criticizing or making her husband feel rejected. This partly fuels the continuation of her husband’s bad behaviors. She reacts to his bad behavior with her own bad behavior. He reacts to her bad behavior with more of his own bad behavior. This is a vicious cycle which turns them into roommates. This cycle must be stopped. Then the relationship can be built some more. Then boundaries are used for his behavior. This reverses the vicious cycle and builds the relationship.
Reason 4: Your husband’s lack of concern about your relationship is why your husband doesn’t respect your boundaries
When conflicts outnumber connections, relationships suffer. People come to care less about the relationship. This often happens 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 saving the marriage. The emotional connection must be strengthened before they will care about the relationship. You can learn how to improve dating in your marriage and how to fix a sexless marriage. Both of these will improve your husband’s desire to save your marriage.
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 how else to behave
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 victim of child 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.
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 a bad person 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.
By using good boundaries and promoting the connection in your relationship, you 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.