What are the signs you are being disrespected in your marriage? What made your husband become selfish and disrespectful? How can you effectively deal with his selfishness and disrespect?
What is it about your husband that makes him disrespect you? Some men become disrespectful as soon as the honeymoon is over. Others don’t become disrespectful until after a number of years. Become familiar with signs he doesn’t respect you and why he has become this way.
What are the signs of a disrespectful husband?
All toxic relationships include signs of disrespect. A toxic relationship is one that gradually becomes worse as if you were drinking a little bit of poison every day. Sometimes we can become so used to the little bit of poison that we don’t notice it anymore. Likewise, we can get so used to disrespect that we become numb to it. We need to see it in ourselves and our spouses if we are to deal with it.
What is a disrespectful husband? A disrespectful husband is one who treats his spouse as less important than himself. He is likely to be dismissive of her feelings and needs, which are always secondary to his own.
Signs of a disrespectful husband:
- treating you as if you are not an equal,
- lack of concern for your feelings,
- not valuing your time,
- controlling, rather than sharing finances,
- little or no concern for your happiness,
- demeaning comments and put downs,
- talking badly about you to others,
- he let’s his family disrespect you without being on your side.
These behaviors may make it feel like your husband hates you. I encourage you to find out how many women restore love, even when they initially think “my husband hates me,” For sure a man will disrespect a woman he hates. But it is usually not the case that he hates her if he disrespects her.
The three characteristics of a healthy relationship. A healthy relationship is marked by mutual love, trust, and respect. Whenever you sense some double standard or feel mistreated in any way, you are being disrespected. Any kind of emotional abuse is also disrespect. These are all warning signs that action is needed by you if your relationship is to improve. You are already in the danger zone if you don’t feel loved anymore.
Is respect something that is given, or earned?
Respect, like trust, is something that is earned. With trust, for example, we are not going to trust someone who does not behave in a consistently honest fashion. How trustworthy they are is independent of our personality. Our perception of them, however, is also going to depend on how trustworthy other people have been with us before. Respect works in the same way.
A person is respectable to the extent that they:
- live according to what they say, and
- do not allow other people to mistreat them
So, it would be hard for our spouses to respect us if we are hypocrites, complain about their behavior when we also do the same thing, or we allow them to mistreat us. Learning how to know if you can trust your husband can also provide valuable insights.
How do you lose respect with your husband?
Women who are disrespected the most tolerate or ineffectively deal with harmful behavior from their husbands. You probably find it hard to respect friends and family who tolerate bad treatment from their spouses. You probably have much respect for women who are fair, but who don’t allow people to mistreat them.
Your husband also has one quality that affects the amount of disrespect. Your spouse’s personality predisposes him to either be respectful or disrespectful. If he is used to being disrespectful, he will behave even worse if you don’t effectively deal with his behaviors. On the other hand, a very loving and fair minded man may treat his wife very well for a long time, even if he is not treated so well. Every man has his limits, though.
The selfish husband
How he became this way
This man’s disrespectful behavior is learned. He may have had parents (or ex-wives, old girlfriends, etc.) who had no standards and no rules. They allowed him to do whatever he wanted–no bedtimes, no homework requirements, no need to call home if he decided to stay out all night. Selfish people will only spend time with you when then there is something in it for them. It’s about what they can get. For example, sexual intimacy for a selfish man means his achieving orgasm. Such men don’t gradually become respectful. They:
- have always been selfish and self-focused.
- disrespect their wives almost from day one. Because
- they think that’s the way things are supposed to be.
What he has been trained to believe.
He has been trained to believe that the world revolves around him. Anyone who does not treat them that way will seem unfair and unreasonable to them. If you have a husband like this, he probably lacks empathy for you and has a hard time understanding why you get so upset. If you complain about him or blame him, he will see you as the problem, rather than his behavior. The selfish partner doesn’t respect anyone, though he has learned to treat others well when necessary.
The manipulative husband
How he became this way
This type of man had parents or past relationships with people who had rules and standards, but didn’t enforce them. People with good standards but poor boundaries make it clear what they expect. But when others don’t meet their standards, they merely complain about it. Men learn with these kind of parents or partners learn that they can do what they want, with a little effort. So, they:
- lie to avoid conflict and to get away with things,
- become good at pushing other people’s buttons and intimidating them,
- often marry needy spouses who will give in for fear of losing them.
Why conflict is not disturbing for this kind of husband
Conflict is just an extension of what he’s used to from past relationships. Being disrespectful, for this kind of husband, is simply a tool to enable him to continue to live a lifestyle that suits him. When he’s nice, he’s fun to be with, but when he’s upset, watch out! The manipulative husband only respects people who have more power than him. Your top priority will be learning how to stop needy behaviors while having strong boundaries.
The resentful husband
How he became this way
This man had good parents or partners who gave love, affection, and attention. But, they had standards and didn’t let him get away with bad behavior. He learned early on that having tantrums really doesn’t help get him what he wants and neither does arguing. Conflict was low and good times were the norm. His parents didn’t stay angry with him for days, but were quick to get right back to loving him. When he grew up, he wanted to be like his parents and have a similar relationship. In marriage he understands the importance of give and take. He sacrifices for the good of the family. But, if he is treated badly,
- he will initially work to improve things, but then
- emotionally disconnect from his wife. At that time,
- he will become disrespectful.
- It doesn’t matter to him how his partner feels–unless it impacts his life.
Why he is so disrespectful
His disrespect is a reaction to being rejected. The reactive husband doesn’t respect people who won’t play fair. He thinks you don’t deserve his respect any more. Many such men seem to have undergone a personality change because they have gone from being very loving to very cold. They can warm up again by your consistently using good connection skills.
The unhappy husband
How he became this way
Regardless of childhood experiences, anyone can become unhappy. Middle aged men often become discouraged because they have not lived up to their dreams. And now, they realize they aren’t going to. Some men turn inward, shut down, become depressed. Some strike out with anger and selfish behavior. When this happens, the disrespect is:
- his conscious or unconscious attempt to create emotional distance,
- so he can have an excuse for getting out of your marriage,
- and try new things
How can this kind of mid-life crisis be avoided?
Mid-life crisis is not a stage of life, because many men never have one. People who are satisfied with what they have and what they have achieved don’t attempt to run away from it. The key to dealing with this type of man is less about boundaries and more about helping him to enjoy what he has. Becoming familiar with the four keys to a happy marriage can help to prevent unhappiness for both of you.
Wives can also teach their husbands to be disrespectful
Wives come with their own set of baggage from childhood and previous relationships. They may not know how to balance love and boundaries. They may not know the basics of how to have a happy marriage. As a result, they may not have standards or not enforce them. They may ineffectively nag or criticize–creating emotional distance. In return, their partners become selfish or manipulative.
A dead giveaway that men have been trained this way is if the children treat these women the same way. What doesn’t work for kids doesn’t work for men either. If you know how to have set good marriage boundaries and can balance that with loving behavior, you can restore your relationship. Relationships without that decline through stages of intimacy, business, roommate, and divorce.
Respect can come back, just like love can
Husbands can learn to respect their wives. I don’t want you to think that the only way for you to get respect is by trading your husband for someone who grew up in a healthy home or was well trained by a healthy ex-wife. Instead, I want you to start to understand your husband so that you can have the right attitude for creating change. He is not “bad,” and he’s not trying to make your life as miserable as possible. You don’t have to get rid of him or treat him badly. He:
- wants and needs love and affection, just like you do.
- is doing, from his perspective, his best.
- may be as frustrated as you because of your distant relationship.
No man, no matter how disrespectful, wants to have a bad relationship. He wants to get his way, yes. He wants you to see him as special, yes. But, he does not want to have a bad relationship. Because he can’t see the solution to these problems, he focuses on taking care of himself the way he knows how. Because he does not know how, you have to be the one to initiate change.
How to deal with a selfish, disrespectful husband
Disrespectful men are men who avoid taking responsibility for problems. They don’t want to work together in therapy and will sabotage therapy if they feel blamed. To improve your marriage to a disrespectful man is a three part process that I often help my clients with:
- Stop any needy behaviors that are preventing him from enjoying you.
- Use good connection skills that will create more of a desire for him to be with you.
- And, use marriage boundaries that enforce reasonable standards for his behavior.
This is the correct order for having success in a relationship with a disrespectful man. Trying to stop his damage while you are doing your own won’t work. Expecting him to do the work of reconnecting also won’t work. Remember–he doesn’t know how.
Case example: Debra
Debra had been married for 15 years and had two children 12 and 14. She described her early relationship with her husband as ideal. They were best friends who enjoyed talking, traveling, and a good sexual relationship. Having had two children shortly after getting married changed all that. She had given up her job to raise her two children, while her husband worked extra to pay the bills. She and her husband neglected their daily time together and became disconnected.
They would often fight about money and parenting. Her husband started talking to her with a harsh tone of voice, then became more sarcastic and belittling. He was no longer affectionate and had no interest in doing things with her. Debra complained about her husband’s behaviors, which just made things worse. Debra was tired of fighting and wanted her husband to treat her nicely again. He had no desire to work on the relationship with her. That’s when she got coaching with me.
In coaching, we worked on stopping Debra’s criticism and complaining about her husband. Although his behavior was as bad as ever, we worked on how she could start making her husband feel important to her. We also worked on her talking with her husband in way that would help him to enjoy the conversation, even though Debra would still not be getting any of her emotional needs met by her husband.
Setting her needs aside to do this kind of work was entirely new to Debra. She had always tried to meet only her needs or to get both of their needs met at the same time. Her husband’s behavior improved in a very short period of time and they spent more and more time talking together. Soon they were having sex with each other again.
Her husband would still become sarcastic with her. Debra had a tendency to want to let this slide in light of their improving relationship. I helped her to understand that to keep her relationship improving, she not only had to be nice, but also to regain her husband’s respect. We worked on her not being reactive, which would reward her husband’s sarcasm. We also designed a boundary that she could use in private or public, so that she would no longer be the butt of his jokes.
Debra was completely able to stop her husband’s sarcasm. The work that Debra did is typical and as was her case, usually only requires one month of coaching.
Restoring your relationship
It can be very frustrating trying to love someone who is making that very difficult. The solution is to learn how to help your spouse feel loved and important while preventing him from manipulating you. My coaching package, Restoring Love with Difficult Spouses, provides all the skills you will need to do just that. We will work together on dealing with neediness, connecting with your husband, and using boundaries. Isn’t it time to stop waiting for your husband to change and to start working on making things better?