My Husband Ignores Me – What Should I Do?
Updated December 21, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Richard Jackson
One of the most disheartening sights in the world is a long-married couple who no longer converses. At one point they were a happy, stable couple who shared their most intimate moments together, and now they're strangers who just happen to share the same house. Although it's more likely to be an issue in older relationships, "my husband ignores me" is a common complaint from many wives. And if you're reading this article, you're probably saying this too, and wondering what you can do. Don't worry, there's hope. This article will explore possible causes and the steps you can take to improve your relationship.
Why Does My Husband Ignore Me?
Ignoring a spouse is a common 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. It's also a common response when a cheating spouse is racked by guilt. The problems aren't always with the relationship itself. Your husband might be trying to find some personal space (this is especially likely if you have young children, and both of you are frantically busy all of the time). He might be stressed about work, or other parts of life, and feel he doesn't have the energy to maintain your relationship right now. While any type of marital struggle can be frustrating, there are steps you can take to improve your situation. Below, we'll cover a few things you can do to start bridging the gap in a distant relationship.
If you believe your husband is ignoring you, that means there's a lack of communication. This needs to be addressed first. Although it may appear on the surface that you're the victim in this predicament, it's important to understand what your husband is feeling.
There's a reason he's ignoring you, and you need to find out what it is. Without effective communication, you're co-existing with incorrect beliefs about each other, and this is a recipe for an unhealthy relationship. If you haven't had a conversation with your husband about his behavior, and you aren't sure where to begin, try these steps:
- Make sure your husband is ready. Don't try 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 this is a good time.
- Be direct, but kind and respectful. This is not a time for making accusations. Present your perspective and nothing more. Use "I" statements, rather than "you" statements. For example, you can say "I feel like you haven't been spending as much time with me recently," or, "I've been missing you," instead of, "You've been ignoring me," or "You're spending too much time away from home."
- Ask for his perspective. Make sure you're ready to hear it. Although the emotional distance is often 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. Please remember that this doesn't mean your husband is always right, only that he deserves to be heard.
If You Know What's Wrong
If you had a successful conversation with your husband, you should have a better idea of the root issues behind his distance. The reason might be big or small, painful or freeing. Whatever the case, once you know the root cause of distance in your relationship, you can take some steps toward resolving it. Here are a few ideas based on the most common reasons for distance in marriage:
If your husband needs more alone time, give it to him.
This can be difficult, depending on your life situation, schedule, and needs. It is, however, vital. Different people need different amounts of time to unwind, relax, and recharge. If your husband isn't getting what he needs, it will negatively affect your relationship.
If your husband is stressed or depressed, support him in finding solutions.
This could be as simple as recognizing he's going to be a bit distant until that big work situation is resolved. In the case of depression or another mental illness, it can mean encouraging and helping him in getting the professional treatment he needs.
If your husband is feeling estranged from the relationship, take his suggestions for renewing intimacy seriously.
It's possible he might make requests that feel stressful and difficult, but you need to consider what you really can do. Maybe he wants you to come home from work earlier one evening a week to eat dinner together, or put off folding a load of laundry to watch a show. Do these things if you can. You may need to negotiate a little-maybe you can fold laundry together first, then watch a show. But if you want him to work at covering the distance, you need to be ready to put in some effort as well.
If your husband tells you you're being too needy, it may hurt.
That's a normal, valid response. It doesn't mean you should dismiss what he said. It may be time to take a look at yourself and see if you're asking too much of your husband. And it might be helpful to have input from a therapist. You may even find this cycle of neediness and withdrawal is present in other relationships in your life as well. Growing in your own self-sufficiency can be scary, but it could also give your husband the space he needs to rejoin your relationship.
Be careful not to criticize.
Even if all your criticisms are valid, there's a good chance that voicing them isn't helpful. Remember that negative communication doesn't just need to be balanced out by positive communication-it needs to be drowned out. Your husband won't be able to receive any criticism in a constructive way unless you're also unleashing a flood of positive communication. These could be compliments, affirmations, or expressions of gratitude. Just make sure that you're saying them.
If You Don't Know What's Wrong
It's possible you tried to have a conversation with your husband about his distance, and he was unwilling or unable to help. Some people have more difficulty verbalizing their feelings than others. In that case, you're going to have to do some detective work with the suggestions below.
On the other hand, your husband may simply not want to tell you what's going on. If that's the case, it will probably take couples and/or individual therapy to help you re-establish your relationship. You can still use the suggestions below as you look into your options-pouring a little more love and respect into a relationship you value is rarely a waste.
Below are some dos and don'ts for bridging distance in your relationship when you don't know what the problem is:
What You Should Do
- Give him a little space. This can be physical space or emotional space. Giving him space can be difficult, but it can also help him feel safe to begin easing back into your relationship. He might be worried that re-establishing your normal intimacy will come with a lot of neediness or demands. Giving him space shows him you respect his boundaries as a person. It can also meet his need for alone-time, or give him the time he needs to unwind.
- Continue to make your own efforts in the relationship. This might seem like it contradicts the suggestion to give him space, but it doesn't. You can make any number of small gestures that pour energy into the relationship without asking for anything in return. Think of what makes him feel loved and valued and do that. It doesn't have to be big-it might be as simple as buying his favorite snacks.
- Withhold criticism. This doesn't mean you have to pretend your husband is perfect. Nobody is. But secure, healthy relationships have more room for genuine, constructive criticism than relationships suffering from a lot of distance. If your relationship is fragile right now, criticism and fault finding could drive it over the edge. Acknowledge the validity of your criticisms to yourself but choose carefully which ones are worth bringing up.
- Pour on the positivity. Remind yourself what it is you love about your husband, and then remind him. Bring out the compliments, gratitude, and affirmations you think but don't always say. Be quick to see the places where he's getting it right-or at least trying to.
- Work on honoring yourself. Not because this is your fault, or because you need to become worthy of him, but because being a stronger, healthier person will be good for you in the future. Find a way to meet your own needs for time, space, and connection. Friends can't replace your husband, of course, but meeting some of your needs outside the relationship can free your husband to meet his. It's completely understandable to not know how to accomplish "honoring yourself." A licensed therapist is trained to help you recognize your self-worth, and has years of experience doing so with other people.
What You Should Avoid
- Nag. If you've agreed on ways to address the issue, and he's not following through, it's appropriate and necessary to bring that up. But if you've tried to talk about it, and he doesn't want to, bringing it up again isn't likely to have a good effect.
- Ignore him. Being ignored by your husband is hurtful, and it's normal to want to retaliate in some way. But if your relationship is valuable to you, you want to leave the way open for your husband to bridge the gap. Ignoring him, in turn, could close the door altogether on the kind of closeness you want.
- Place more demands on him. Neediness and withdrawal is a potent cause for distance in many relationships. The needier your husband perceives you to be, the more he may withdraw. Healthy relationships do have a give and take, and room for both partners' needs, but nursing a relationship back to health may require temporarily asking less of your husband. Restoring intimacy in your relationship will certainly not be helped by extra demands, or whining.
Why You Should Be Optimistic
Most couples go through difficult or distant periods in their marriage. It's important to remain optimistic about your relationship unless you have serious reasons not to (such as infidelity or abuse). Trained therapists, like those at BetterHelp, can help you address your specific situation. If you find yourself frequently belittled, laughed at, or yelled at when bringing up your concerns about your relationship, it may be important to get a professional perspective. If your marriage is toxic or abusive, the advice in this article may not be appropriate. A trained, licensed therapist or counselor can help you move forward. BetterHelp's network of licensed counselors have years of experiencing helping married couples find fulfilling love again. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists, from people experiencing similar issues.
"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, 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 gas been working really 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."
In some cases, following the tips in this article and brushing up on marriage best practices will be enough to re-establish a close connection in your marriage. If you continue to find yourself confused and frustrated, though, understand that it's normal and healthy to reach out for help. A truly fulfilling marriage is possible -- all you need are the right tools. Take the first step today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
How do you react when your husband ignores you?
It’s possible that you could be making the situation worse if you’re reacting very negatively when your husband ignores you. It’s normal to want to spend time together and to be frustrated when your husband ignored you. However, reacting angrily might cause him to want to spend time with you even less. Sometimes having a talk about why your husband ignored you and staying calm will be better than reacting too strongly. Don’t provide a means for your relationship to worsen by overreacting to being ignored. It’s fine to feel hurt, but it’s best to discuss things rationally and calmly. Learn how your comment can have an impact on things. You can possibly make things better and fix things or you can have a negative impact on the situation.
How do I stop my husband from ignoring me?
Stopping your husband from ignoring you is mostly about figuring out why this is happening. It’s annoying when your husband can’t spare time for you but he seems to have time for others. Making your husband change by force isn’t going to be for the best, though. You need to sit down and talk about why your husband ignored you and what is going on in your relationship. If you determine what is wrong, then you might be able to work on how to spend time together more often. Spending time talking about it might change things for the better. Talking to your husband is going to be the right answer in most situations.
What does it mean when someone ignores you?
Having your husband ignore you is hurtful and the toughest thing about this is that you might be unclear what it means. If your husband spends all his time focused on work, then it could mean that he is too focused on career success to the detriment of his relationship. There could be various reasons your husband would ignore you such as infidelity, stress, depression, friction with family, and many other things. It’s impossible to say what is going on in your situation when your husband ignores you, but you should take time to talk to him about things.
How do you know if your husband is in love with another woman?
Infidelity is a common concern when your husband is ignoring you. Have you noticed your husband checking text messages more often than usual? If your husband’s behavior has changed substantially over the last few months, then that could be a sign that your husband is seeing someone else. However, it’s best not to jump to conclusions because this could just as easily not be the case. It’s not good to accuse your husband of something when you really just want him to stop ignoring you. Even so, if your husband won’t stay at home in the evenings or if he’s going out without wanting you to tag along, then that isn’t a positive sign.
How do you know when your marriage is over?
Your marriage is only over if you both decide that you no longer want to be together. It’s possible that your husband ignores you so much that the love has disappeared from your marriage. When a husband ignores his spouse, it makes it extremely difficult to move forward together. You have to talk about this to see just how bad things are and if they can be fixed or not. If you haven’t been intimate with your husband in a long time and he just continues to ignore you, then that’s not a positive sign. Try to stay at home one evening and talk about your marriage to see if things are over or if you both want to continue while working on fixing these problems. Stop ignoring the problem and endeavor to make it work or move on.
What to do when your partner is ignoring you?
You can decide to take action when your husband ignores you to figure out the reasons why this is occurring. Talking with your husband about what is happening is sensible. You could also decide to focus on your own life and give your husband space to see if he just needs some time to himself to sort out personal issues. It isn’t always easy to do this when you’re a home wife and you don’t have other things to focus on, though. There are times in life when people will become distant due to stress and not everyone opens up about feelings as easily as others. This might be frustrating to hear when you’re a home wife and you want your husband to stop ignoring you, but you won’t always be able to solve the problem right away.
How do you know when your husband doesn't love you anymore?
Determining whether your husband still loves you is difficult. You won’t necessarily know until you confront your personal issues together. However, if your husband doesn’t show you affection any longer, then that could be a bad sign. Do you feel a distance that goes beyond just having your husband ignore you? Spend time thinking about how you treat each other when questioning if there is still love in your marriage.
How can you make your husband miss you?
The concept of making your husband miss you isn’t necessarily healthy. If you’re worried that your husband is not treating you right, then it’s best to tell your husband how you’re feeling rather than playing games in this way. Don’t wait a long time to bring up this topic. If you wait a long time to discuss things, then the issues will become worse. You could figure out why your husband is being so aloof now rather than suffering through many months of awkwardness.
How do you make him feel guilty for hurting you?
Trying to make someone feel guilty because of something that they did wrong isn’t good either. You see, it’s normal to want revenge if someone cheated on you or if they simply did something to upset you. You might work very hard as a home mom and it angers you to have your husband not show you attention. However, this isn’t a mature adult response and it doesn’t do your relationship any good at the end of the day. When your husband ignores you, it’s imperative to address the issues rather than to try to make them worse. You can’t make your husband stop ignoring you by giving him a guilt trip. If you want to have your husband stop ignoring your feelings, then you have to discuss things openly and honestly.
Why do guys give the silent treatment?
Sometimes people will give others “the silent treatment” when they are frustrated with them. It’s possible that you’re getting the silent treatment because you had an argument. Perhaps your husband just wants time alone as well. If you notice your husband playing video games with his friends, then that might make you mad. However, it is good for people to have friends and to be able to unwind. If your husband ignores you for too long, then it might be a real reason to worry. If your husband is simply quiet when he plays video games, then he could just be trying to concentrate. You might think that it’s time to have a talk if your husband is more into his video games than he is paying attention to you, but you should try to be open to him having a hobby unless it is harming your marriage severely.
How do you deal with being ignored?
Being ignored by your husband is very upsetting and it’s understandable that you are flustered by things. How you deal with something like this is going to determine whether you’ll be able to resolve the situation. Ask yourself “why did I marry my husband?” Try to remember why you love him and keep moving forward so that you can improve your relationship. If your husband’s emotional distance hurts your mental health, then you might need to talk to a friend or family member. You can always give them a call if you’re not currently living in your home state. When you’re ready, it’ll be time to talk to your husband about what is going on to let him know how you feel in a calm and concise fashion.
How can you tell if your husband is lying to you?
If you know your husband very well, then you might be able to tell if he’s lying simply because you know his “tells.” For instance, some people can’t look others in the eye when they’re lying. Others might act a certain way when they aren’t telling the truth. When you ask your husband about the situation, it’s best to approach the situation honestly instead of just trying to catch him in a lie. Even so, it is good to pay attention to inconsistencies so that you can get to the truth if your husband isn’t forthcoming with information. You might find yourself thinking to yourself “I knew my husband was lying” because of just knowing him very well.
How do you tell if your husband still finds you attractive?
Does your husband still compliment your looks? Do you still spend time making love together? It usually isn’t too difficult to tell if you’re desired by another individual. If your husband ignores you and doesn’t look your way very often, then the attraction might not be there any longer. However, it’s difficult to say because people can act differently when they’re going through depression or dealing with stress. You can’t simply say “my husband ignores me” and then assume that he isn’t attracted to you any longer. It could be more complicated than that.
What is emotional cheating in a marriage?
Emotional cheating is something that can be just as harmful in a marriage as physical cheating. This is a type of cheating that involves your husband opening up to someone else and spending time with them. For example, your husband might spend more time with a co-worker who will sort of assume your role as the spouse from an emotional standpoint. It can be harmful to see that your husband ignores you but opens up to another person. When someone is cheating physically or mentally, it creates a rift in your marriage that will need to be addressed.
What are the signs of an unhappy marriage?
There are many potential signs of an unhappy marriage. Saying “my husband ignores me” often could be one of them. Other signs could include emotional distance, constant arguing, and differing goals. Happiness is an emotion that you should be able to understand quite well. Simply ask yourself if you’re truly happy and then try to surmise if your husband is happy based on your own feelings and experiences.
When should you walk away from your marriage?
Walking away from a marriage is a difficult thing to do. You likely don’t want to leave your husband after the first time you noticed these issues. Saying “my husband ignores me” isn’t enough to end a relationship right away. You might want to leave if your husband is cheating on you, but if your husband isn’t doing anything that severe, then you could merely want to fix things. Ask yourself “can I save my marriage?” If the answer is yes and this is what you want, then perhaps it isn’t time to give up just yet.
Do you argue with your husband many times a week? Has your husband ever harmed you physically? It’s definitely a good idea to leave and get help if your husband is emotionally or physically abusive. If your marriage is bad for your mental health, then please seek assistance and try to reach home. If you can reach home, then your family members can come to help you in this situation. Many spouses have to reach home when they’re dealing with combustible marriages, but things might not be so severe in your situation.
How do you move on when your marriage is over?
Moving on once your marriage is over can be tough. Many people get stuck in an emotional rut for a little while after getting divorced. When your husband ignores you for a long time and you’re finally on your own again, it can feel a bit bittersweet. It’s especially worrying when you are a stay at home wife. You should rely on your support system when you’re feeling down and talk to professionals if you need help getting over things emotionally. Take care of your mental health and focus on things that make you happy such as hobbies, family, good times with others, and your work. This advice is important whether you’re a stay at home wife or if you’re a career woman. Everyone needs help and taking care of your mental health is crucial.
How can I attract my husband emotionally?
You should try to attract your husband emotionally by being a supportive partner. Instead of telling friends “my husband ignores me,” you should try talking with your spouse. Be honest with him and let him know that you’ve noticed the changes in his behavior. This should give you a chance to work on issues while addressing what is really wrong. If you’re an approachable person, then you’ll be able to attract your husband emotionally. If you react angrily to situations, then someone will be less likely to open up to you.
How do you know if your husband is cheating on you?
Cheating isn’t always easy to catch, but you can look out for signs. For example, checking text messages more often might be unusual. You might notice that your husband spends all his time on his phone when he’s cheating. If you can think of a time he called someone that made you feel a bit funny, then that could be a sign of cheating. Many people remember certain events and have a light bulb go off. If you find yourself thinking “I remember the time my husband did this,” then it could be something to look into. Don’t jump to conclusions and instead ask your husband about what is happening calmly. If he’s cheating, it’d be better for him to be honest about it so that you can both determine what that means for the future of your marriage.
What do you do when your husband shows no affection?
When your husband ignores you and shows no affection at all it’s going to be tough for your mental health. You need to have affection in a marriage for things to work. Seeking support from a trusted friend or family member will be good for you. However, the issue of your husband not being affectionate will need to be addressed. When a husband or wife stops being affectionate in a marriage it’s generally a sign that things are not right.
What do you do when your husband says hurtful things?
You shouldn’t let someone say hurtful things to you for no reason. If this is happening then it has gone from “my husband ignores me” to “my husband is emotionally abusive.” Seek the help of friends or family members if your husband is constantly saying hurtful things to you. It’s bad for your mental health to be in an environment like that. You could try to calmly explain to your husband that this makes you feel bad and that you want him to treat you differently. If he stays on this course of treating you poorly, then you might need to consider ending the marriage.
How do you know if he's just using you?
Another potential worry that spouses have when husbands ignore them is that they’re just being used. Are you worried that you’re being used as a stay at home wife? Some men do enjoy having a home wife who takes care of all of the cooking and cleaning. If your husband never helps at home and doesn’t show appreciation for what you do, then that is a possibility. You can ask your husband if he just sees you as a home wife or if he truly loves you. If he’s not an abusive person, then you should feel safe enough to speak about your feelings so that you can determine if this is a marriage of convenience for him or if there is truly love there. If your husband ignores you no matter what you say, then he might truly be using you. No one should have to constantly say to themselves “my husband ignores me” and not be sure if they’re even appreciated at all.
What does a man's silence mean?
A man’s silence can mean many different things. For example, sometimes silence can mean that someone is angry. Other times it might mean that a man is sad, contemplative, or tired. Some men spend a lot of time thinking and remain silent. You can’t determine what a man’s silence means without more context. When this is happening for a long time and your husband ignores you often, it is likely that the silence has something to do with an issue in your marriage. Silence is more frustrating than an argument in many ways. You might be thinking “my husband drives me nuts with his silence,” but it’s sometimes a complicated issue.
What does the silent treatment do to a relationship?
The silent treatment is not good for your relationship. It can lead to you not talking any longer and a lack of communication will harm even the healthiest marriages. You can’t figure out how to fix things if you don’t talk about things. The silent treatment is absolutely counterproductive when you wish to work on the issues that are holding your marriage back. Whether you’re a stay at home mom or a person with a career, it’s best to not use your time at home to keep this cycle of silence going. You want your time together to be productive and the silent treatment simply makes things ten times worse. Resentment builds when someone uses the silent treatment as a weapon.
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