If you are thinking “my husband hates me,” it doesn’t mean you need to apologize and become submissive. And, it doesn’t mean you need to reject him. Here’s how to figure out what is going on and how to start the path back to a loving relationship with him.
Unless he has always been angry and hateful, you are not dealing with a personality problem. His behavior is either reactive or purposeful. It’s not that he wants to hurt you, but he doesn’t know a better way to deal with his feelings or to get what he wants.
He doesn’t know how to stop. Most likely he would like to have a close relationship with you, but is clueless about how to go from where you two are now, to that place. You can be the one to help him get there–for the both of you. And for the sake of your kids, too.
Does your husband really hate you?
Is his anger serving a purpose? A man will not live with someone he hates unless he believes he has no other choice. So begin there. Is there a practical way that your husband could leave you? If there is and he is still staying with you, then it is not hate that you are dealing with, but some purposeful use of anger.
For example, he may be protecting himself from what he feels is rejection or control from you. Or, he may be using his anger in order to control you in some way. It may get him out of responsibility. It may also make it easier for him to justify, or seek an affair.
If he is not able to leave you for some practical reasons, then he may blame you for his being stuck. Does it seem like he blames you for everything? Then he is actually blaming you for his unhappiness. You will need to learn how to deal with his blaming, and take away his excuses for being stuck.
You need to help him see that you are not keeping him stuck. It is actually better if he sees that he could go, but that he is choosing to stay with you. The more he feels that you are holding onto him, the more he will try to pull away.
He needs to feel that he is staying because he is choosing to, and not because he has to, if he is to be able to drop his hatred.
Five of his behaviors that make you think he hates you
One of the mistakes people often make is jumping to a quick conclusion. “He treats me badly so he must hate me,” is an example of a hasty conclusion. Here are four reasons it may seem that your husband hates you:
1 He is using anger to control you
Many men have learned to use anger as a way to get what they want. It’s a method of intimidation that probably goes back to their childhood. There are a couple of ways to know if you have such a husband.
- He frequently tries to get action, submission, or permission from you.
- He becomes nice again as soon as he gets what he wants.
People who are really angry and not just manipulative, tend to stay angry for a while after they get what they want. It takes them a while to transition to warming up again–slower and slower as the relationship gets worse. Controlling people can change rather quickly.
Improving your relationship with a controlling man
There are two major approaches to maintaining a relationship with such a man.
- You either give in to him constantly to avoid conflict, OR
- Put good boundaries into place.
If your husband is very narcissistic, the first option may be your only option other than leaving him. Such men care only about what they want. Once they no longer get that, they go elsewhere to get it. They treat you well as long as they get their way. That can make you feel loved, but it is really about him, not you.
The other option is put good boundaries into place. For most men, this works well. Boundaries at first increase his anger and controlling behavior, as he attempts to regain control with his usual methods. But, if you can be consistent, he will eventually learn that such methods do not work with you.
His only choice then, will be either to leave you or become nicer, since that will be the only way that he will get what he wants. In my experience, most men who are angry with their wives do not want to lose their wives all the same.
They have come to take their wives love for granted because of her lack of boundaries. She has taught him that he is her king and she is but a subject to be commanded. This dynamic is more a function of her personality than his.
2 He is using you as his pressure release valve
Thankfully, most men are not stuck being controlling because of some kind of personality disorder. Like all people, they can strike out at others when they are feeling hurt by someone, or are very stressed. They will only do that some place safe, like with an insecure or passive wife.
Fearing no bad outcome, they believe it is safe to be physically or emotionally abusive. They then use their wives as a kind of pressure release valve to blow off excess anger. Although these men often feel sorry after they behave this way, the relief they feel rewards their behavior. No amount of apologies or guilt will change their behavior. Change will only happen when their wives will no longer play the victim role.
Improving your relationship with a husband who takes out his problems on you
You might feel inclined to excuse his hateful behavior because you know he doesn’t really mean it. If you do, it will eventually erode your relationship away to nothing. Instead, start to to show him that you are not at the bottom of the pecking order and that it is not safe to take out his frustrations on you.
That will start with small boundaries such as walking away when he is verbally abusive. The boundaries can escalate to separation (moving out) if his behavior remains unchanged. Don’t use arguments rather than boundaries. Arguments actually feed the behavior and make him feel less guilty about taking out his stresses on you.
3 It seems your husband hates you because he is vengeful
Have you done something that hurt your husband? Something intentional, such as an affair, or accidental, like backing over his cat? If so, he may not be able to forgive you, even if he wants to. To forgive means to release someone from a debt. They no longer owe you any apologies, any suffering, any explanations, or any accountability of any kind.
Christians accept Jesus’ atoning death for our sins, and ask God for forgiveness. God then not only forgive us, but actually forgets our sins (Hebrews 8:12). Likewise, we will no longer owe anything to a spouse who forgives us.
Many people cannot forgive because they don’t know how. They think that forgiving means just waiting until thoughts of vengeance and feelings of anger go away on their own. Your husband may be stuck waiting for that to happen, and occasionally act on his anger in the meantime.
Reconciling with a vengeful and angry husband
Don’t continue to apologize. That is only going to make matters worse. It may appease his anger for the moment. Continued apologies however will bring continued anger. You apologies can reward his anger by giving him a sense of power.
You can help him forgive when he finds he is not able to. Unforgiveness normally disappears when replaced by the fear of loss. As long as he has securely has you to take his punishment, he will continue to punish. To change this, you must be able to:
- Be a very good partner for your husband; and
- Provoke his fear of losing you.
When you do this, his feelings of love for you will soar and all will be forgiven. Remember that you can’t do step two without step one. No man is going fear losing a bad partner. Many people try to create change by only doing step one. That will result in frustration rather than improvement.
4 He regrets getting married and feels resentful
Many people become disillusioned with marriage. Not only is it less fun than they thought it would be, it seems to be a lot worse than having been single. This is particularly true for people who do not maintain a close relationship after getting married. Add to this the enticements that men face every day to be unfaithful, and a man can become pretty miserable.
Many men remain staunchly loyal to their wives even in this circumstance, but instead of doing something to improve their relationships, they start to avoid interaction and to become grouchy or mean. They are determined to carry on in their marriage no matter how unhappy they are. They don’t do a good job of hiding it, though.
Reconciling with a husband who regrets getting married
Think about your marriage from your husband’s perspective. Do you think that your behavior makes him feel loved and valued? Does he feel like he is a priority over the children, your career, your parents, and your social networking?
Although you can’t undo all the disconnection in one day, you can gradually start to make your marriage a positive experience for him. I have put together five free relationship building lessons to get you started. If he enjoys your relationship, he won’t regret being married.
5 It seems your husband hates you because he is creating conditions for being unfaithful
Men can deliberately seek out affairs—even if all of their needs are being met in their marriage. Men will have affairs if:
- They have the opportunity, and
- They do not fear significant loss in doing so.
They start their affair seeking behavior by creating emotional distance from their wives. This gives them the physical distance needed to troll for women. If they fight with you enough, for example, they may be able to move to the basement where they can freely spend hours connecting with other women on the internet.
Because they are not wanting to divorce, they will also sometimes connect with their wives. Usually, just enough to keep the marriage going. So they are sometimes friendly, but mostly not. These hot and cold behaviors can be very confusing for women.
Men use hot and cold behaviors to adjust, and maintain, a comfortable level of emotional distance in their marriage.
Reconciling with a husband who is intentionally creating emotional distance
When men first start this behavior, they do not generally want to end their marriage. They just want to add to their lives some more excitement. You must be careful not to let this situation go on too long. Like pornography or limerence for another, the sooner dealt with, the better.
You must use good boundaries as soon as your connection attempts start to fail. He needs to feel that if he continues on this path, that he will lose everything important to him. It will make him more angry at first, but could prevent an affair.
Then, you must start building your relationship and try to put a little more excitement into it. You don’t want him to feel like he is missing out too much. Be careful not to have an open marriage with him, as these are very destructive. There are many ways to add adventure and romance to marriage without sinful and destructive behaviors.
Major skills needed for reconciling with a husband who hates you or seems to
If your husband want to make your relationship better, then marriage counseling is an excellent choice. But, for most of the scenarios described above, he won’t want to go. Even so, you can still learn skills to improve your relationship with him without his participation.
Women are learning that every day in coaching. Individual coaching (for you) is far better than trying to get him to go to counseling if he is not wanting to.
- Agreement and empathy are necessary for ending conflict, and for helping him to relax and to feel that you are on his side.
- Connection skills are necessary to help him to feel important, to help him to feel attractive to you, and to foster in him more of a desire to spend time with you.
- Boundaries are necessary to build respect, prevent or end affairs, and stop his damaging or hostile behaviors.
Depending on how your relationship is right now, you can start to learn some of these skills by reading books such as, “What to Do When He Won’t Change,” or you could get relationship coaching for restoring love with difficult spouses. Get coaching when you don’t have much time, as you will be instructed what to do rather than just talk about things.
What will not work is the be patient, or wait and see method. Fires are best put out while they are still small. Once you are sure things are getting worse, don’t wait for them to get even worse. If doing what you know doesn’t work, it is not time to give up, but it is time to learn to do something more effective.