What To Do If Your Husband Ignores You

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban, LMFT, IMH-E
Updated January 10, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Relationships can be complicated, and couples may encounter many different types of conflicts that can change their dynamic over time. In some cases, unresolved issues may cause partners to get to a point where they no longer speak. If you’re in a position where your significant other has started ignoring you, read on for a few different perspectives on what the issue might be and some potential suggestions for addressing it. 

Has Your Spouse Been Giving You The Silent Treatment?

Why Does My Husband Ignore Me?

Usually, ignoring a spouse is a reaction to an underlying problem in the relationship. That problem can be anything from an accumulation of minor disagreements to one of the partners feeling the relationship has become stale. However, the cause isn’t always due to an issue with the relationship itself. If your husband ignores you, they might be trying to find some personal space, for instance. This is especially likely if you have young children and/or busy schedules. Or, your husband might be stressed about work, money, or other parts of life and feel they don’t have the energy to maintain the relationship with the patience and attention you deserve right now. They could even be experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition that may be affecting their behavior.

While any type of marital struggle can be frustrating, there are steps you can take to try and improve your situation.

Below, we’ll cover a few things you can do to work toward bridging the gap in a distant marriage.

Reestablishing Communication

If your husband seems to be ignoring you, a powerful first step can be to attempt to reestablish communication. That way, both you and your spouse can voice your feelings and concerns about the conflict you’re experiencing. If you haven’t yet had a conversation about what’s going on and you aren’t sure where to begin, you might try these steps:

  1. Select a time when you’re both calm and available. Avoid trying to fit the conversation in when either of you is rushed or tired. Tell your husband what you would like to talk about and ask if it’s a good time.

  2. Be direct, but kind and respectful. Instead of making accusations or blaming your partner for their actions, focus on your feelings and experience. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements. For example, you could say, “I feel like I haven’t had as much quality time with you lately” or “I’ve been missing you” instead of, “You’ve been ignoring me” or “You’re spending too much time away from home”.

  3. Ask for their perspective. Make sure you’re ready to hear their answer. Although the emotional distance could be caused by trivial issues, there are times when it has deeper and more difficult roots. Be prepared to take in whatever your husband says and process it before you automatically disagree. Even if you have a different interpretation, you can still display empathy by acknowledging that their experience is valid.

What Else To Try If Your Spouse Is Ignoring You

In addition to reestablishing communication, here are a few other strategies you might consider trying to handle a situation where your spouse is ignoring you.

  • Give them some space. This can take the form of physical space, emotional space, or both. Granting it can show them that you respect their individuality, independence, and boundaries. It could provide them with a way to get the alone time they may have been lacking, or the space they need to unwind, regain their sense of self, or sort out how they’re feeling about the relationship.

  • Continue to make your efforts in the relationship. This might seem like it contradicts the suggestion to give them space, but it doesn’t have to. You can make any number of small gestures that contribute to the relationship without asking for anything in return. Think of what makes your spouse feel loved and valued, and consider doing that. For example, if you know your partner’s love language, doing something for them that fits into it can go a long way. One study found that people who expressed affection in their partner’s primary love language reported greater satisfaction in their relationships. 

  • Accentuate the positive. You might try reminding yourself of what you cherish about your husband—and then tell them. Consider verbalizing the compliments, gratitude, and affirmations you think but don’t always say. Be quick to affirm the places where they’re getting it right or are putting in genuine effort.

  • Work on yourself. It’s generally an unhealthy perspective to feel that you need to change fundamental aspects of yourself to better suit or please your partner. However, self-improvement and self-care on both sides of a relationship can be helpful. Since you only have control over these things in your own life, you might try focusing on them for both your benefit and the potential benefit to your relationship. For instance, you could find new ways to build an even richer life for yourself independent of your relationship—complete with individual hobbies and interests and people besides your husband who you can lean on for emotional support. Making it a point to take good care of yourself physically and emotionally is often wise as well. Attending therapy to get in touch with and address any challenges you may have—from things like low self-esteem to symptoms of anxiety or depression—can also be helpful.

What To Consider Avoiding

In addition to considering the tips above, you might also think about avoiding some of the following pitfalls that may make the situation worse.

  • Bringing up the issue repeatedly. If you’ve agreed on ways to address the issue and they’re not following through, it’s typically appropriate and necessary to bring that up. However, if your husband is hesitant to talk about what’s bothering them or what they’re dealing with, it may be helpful to avoid pressuring or forcing them to communicate before they’re ready—within reason. Pressing on the same issue, again and again, can cause them to feel defensive or frustrated, which can set you further back in the process of working toward a resolution.

  • Ignoring them. Being ignored by your husband is often hurtful, and it’s normal to want to retaliate in some way. However, ignoring them in return could close the door altogether on the kind of intimacy you want to build or regain. Instead, showing that you’re open to giving them space and engaging in a discussion when they’re ready may be more constructive.

  • Placing more demands on them. The added pressure could create even more distance in your dynamic. Healthy relationships generally involve a give and take as well as adequate room for all partners’ needs, but nursing a connection back to health may require temporarily asking less of your husband. Restoring intimacy in your relationship can be hindered by extra demands.

  • Criticizing them. This doesn’t mean you have to pretend your husband is perfect or that their behavior isn’t affecting you. However, stable, healthy relationships tend to have more room for genuine, constructive criticism than relationships characterized by emotional distance. If your relationship is fragile right now, criticism and fault-finding could drive it over the edge. You might acknowledge the validity of your criticisms to yourself but choose carefully which ones are worth bringing up at this time, and how you choose to do so.

Has Your Spouse Been Giving You The Silent Treatment?

What To Do If You Know The Source Of The Issue

You may have already spoken to your husband about the issue and now understand the root issues behind their silent treatment. In this case, you might be able to take steps to address it. Here are a few ideas based on the most common reasons for distance in a marriage:

If your husband needs more alone time, see if you can give it to them.

This may be difficult depending on your life situation and schedule. It is, however, typically vital that the core needs of each person are understood and that there’s an ongoing willingness to meet them. Different people need different amounts of time to unwind, relax, and recharge. If your husband isn’t getting the amount they need, it can affect their behavior and your relationship. Working together to carve out the time and space they may need can be beneficial. 

If your husband is stressed or experiencing anxiety or depression, you might encourage them to seek support.

This could be as simple as recognizing that they will be a bit distant until that big work situation is resolved. Or, in the case of anxiety, depression, or another mental illness, it could mean encouraging and helping them get the professional treatment they may need.

If your husband is feeling disconnected from the relationship, try taking their suggestions for renewing intimacy seriously.

If they feel that the spark is lacking in your relationship, you might think about how to bring it back—even beyond physical intimacy. For instance, maybe they want you to come home from work earlier one evening a week to eat dinner together or put off folding laundry to watch a show together. Being receptive to their ideas for how to reconnect and possibly contributing some of their own can be important steps in moving past this conflict.

How Therapy Can Help

A large or lasting conflict in a relationship can get to a point where neither party knows how to address it. In cases like these, it can be helpful to have the input of an objective third person trained in mediating conflict between two people. A licensed couples therapist can be an excellent resource. They can provide a safe space where both people can make their concerns heard, and they can offer strategies for improving communication and resolving conflict to help you and your partner try and overcome this challenge.

If your marriage is toxic or abusive, the advice in this article may not be appropriate. If you or someone you know is experiencing any type of abuse, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Consider reaching out for support and resources.

For those with busy schedules, online couples therapy may be a more accessible option. Research suggests that online and in-person therapy offer similar benefits for various concerns. One study even found that couples who did virtual therapy felt safer and less judged than those who did traditional, in-office sessions. If you’re interested in this method, you can connect with a licensed therapist through an online therapy platform like BetterHelp. You can meet with them individually and/or together with your partner via phone, video call, and online chat to address the challenges you may be facing in your relationship. See below for reviews of BetterHelp therapists from those who have experienced similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

“I would refer Helen to anyone that would need to speak to a counselor. She listens and gives excellent advice. My husband and I are the closest we’ve ever been.”

“Within just a few sessions with Monica, I was in a much better place emotionally, and mentally, and had renewed hope. After a strong rift with my husband, I needed a compassionate ear that wasn’t my friends or family. She listened, gave me good feedback, and assigned helpful habits. So far everything she suggested has been working well. Thanks to her I’ve made great progress, and I’m excited to continue until I’m back to me. I’m so glad and thankful to better help for not only providing therapy at a price I could afford but having sessions from home, which has been important for me since all of this has made me paranoid about going out to seek help. I know I have more work to do, but with Monica and better help, I’m more hopeful now than I have been in about two years. That’s priceless to me.”

Takeaway

In some cases, following the tips in this article and talking with your husband about the situation will be enough to reestablish a close connection in your marriage. If you continue to find yourself confused and frustrated, understand that it’s normal and healthy to reach out for help. A truly fulfilling relationship is possible with the right tools and support.

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