Your husband doesn’t respect you, but he used to. What’s going on?
What is it about your husband that makes him disrespect you? Some men become disrespectful as soon as the honeymoon is over while others don’t become disrespectful until after a number of years. This article talks about three particular kinds of disrespectful husbands: the Selfish Husband, the Manipulative Husband, and the Reactive Husband. Understanding more about these men will help you get more respect.
The Selfish Husband
Disrespectful behavior is learned. He may have had parents (or ex-wives, old girlfriends, etc.) who had no standards, no rules, and 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. Do you imagine that such men would learn to be really appreciative and show that appreciation by being really respectful? Not likely. These become selfish and self-focused. Their disrespect in marriage starts almost from day one. They have been trained to believe that the world revolves around them. Anyone who does not treat them that way will seem to them to be nasty, cruel, wicked people. 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 husband doesn’t respect anyone.
The Manipulative Husband
The manipulative husband probably 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 misbehave, they merely complain about it. Men learn with this kind of parents or partners that they can do what they want. They will lie to avoid conflict and get what they want. They become good at pushing other people’s buttons and knowing how to intimidate. They often marry needy spouses who will give in to them to avoid conflict or for fear of losing the marriage. Conflict will not be disturbing for this kind of husband, because it 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 doesn’t respect anyone who has less power than him.
The Reactive Husband
Really good parents or partners show plenty of love, affection, and attention. But, they don’t let their children or significant others get away with bad behavior. As a result the children (or partners) are a little angry or disappointed with the corrective action, but they don’t go bezerk. These men loved their parents and their parents loved them. They learned early on that having tantrums really doesn’t help and neither does arguing. Importantly, the good times with their parents or partners far outnumbered their conflicts. Their parents didn’t stay angry with them for days, but were quick to get right back to loving them. When they grew up, they wanted to be like their parents and may even have a job similar to what their parents did. In marriage they understand the importance of give and take and can sacrifice for the good of the family. If they are treated badly, they will initially work to improve things, but then gradually abandon the marriage. At that time, they will become disrespectful. Their disrespect is a reaction to being rejected. The reactive husband doesn’t respect people who won’t play fair.
Wives Can Also Train 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. As a result, they let their husbands do anything while they are patient. Or, they may nag and withhold affection in ineffective efforts to get their husbands to behave better. In both of these cases, the husband becomes selfish or manipulative and the wife wonders why she is getting so much rejection. She wants love, she wants partnership, but all he seems to want is to take care of himself (and to be taken care of). The marriage seems terribly unfair because he gets everything he wants and when she wants something, there is hell to pay. On the other hand, some wives mistreat good husbands, either through controlling behavior or by withholding sex or affection. When this happens, it is often because of unrealistic expectations she has or because her husband made some kind of mistake that she always holds against him. Even good men can make mistakes. When they do, they do everything they can to make up for it, but sometimes continue to be rejected by their wives. Eventually these men will become disrespectful and probably divorce.
Being a Good Wife When Your Husband Doesn’t Respect You
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. He is doing, from his perspective, his best. He may be as frustrated as you because what he is doing is not working to make a better 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. To help him, you are going to need to stop just trying to take care of yourself and instead be the one to initiate change.
Disrespectful men are men who avoid taking responsibility for problems. They don’t want to work together in therapy and will actually sabotage therapy if they feel blamed. To improve your marriage to a disrespectful man, you can work on having good boundaries around behaviors he has which are damaging your marriage. You will also need to help him to change the way he talks to you. If you would like some very practical guidance, many woman have found my book, What to Do When He Won’t Change, to be helpful in giving them a step by step plan to follow. You probably realize by now that waiting for your husband to change is not a good plan. What I want you to see is that that does not mean you need to give up on improving your marriage. You can be the one to initiate change, in a positive, non-destructive way. And, if your marriage already has severe problems due to lack of respect, it is not too late, but you will probably need to get some professional coaching to improve your marriage.