When Your Husband Ignores You – What Can You Do?

By Sarah Cocchimiglio|Updated April 11, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Richard Jackson, LICSW

One of the more disheartening sights in the world may be a long-married couple who no longer converses. At one point they were a happy couple who shared their most intimate moments together, and now it may feel like they’re strangers who just happen to share the same house. Although it’s more likely to be an issue in older relationships, “When your husband ignores you, what can I do?” is a common thought from many. And if you’re reading this article, you, too, may be saying this and wondering what you can do when your husband ignores you. Don’t worry, there’s hope. This article will explore possible causes and the steps you can take to improve your relationship and understand the root of why your husband ignores you.

Why Does My Husband Ignore Me?

Being Ignored By Your Husband Hurts.

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 feeling guilty. The problems aren’t always with the relationship itself. When your husband ignores you, he 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.

Re-Establishing Communication

If you believe your husband may be ignoring you, a good first step is to first re-establish communication. That way, both you and your husband can voice your feelings and the concerns you are having within the relationship.

If you haven’t yet had a conversation with your husband, and you aren’t sure where to begin, try these steps:

  1. Select a time where you are 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, focus on your own feelings and experience. 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.”
  3. 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. Even if you have a different interpretation, you can still display empathy by acknowledging that your husband’s experience is valid.

If You Know What’s Wrong

If you had a successful conversation with your husband, you may already have an understanding 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 that each person’s core needs are understood and there is an ongoing willingness to meet them. Different people need different amounts of time to unwind, relax, and recharge. If your husband isn’t getting what he needs, it can negatively affect your relationship, and this might be when your husband ignores you.

If your husband is stressed or experiencing anxiety or depression, encourage him to seek support.

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 anxiety, depression or another mental illness, it can mean encouraging and helping him to get 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 should 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. Consider doing 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’ll likely need to be ready to put in some effort as well.

If your husband tells you he needs more space, 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 — putting too much pressure on a relationship and noticing some 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 chance that voicing them won’t be helpful. Remember that positive communication is often the most effective form. Your husband may be more receptive to criticism if it’s expressed through, or in addition to, positive forms of communication. This could mean compliments, affirmations, or expressions of gratitude

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 might have to do some detective work when your husband ignores you 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 may 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 do’s and don’ts for bridging distance in your relationship when you don’t know what the problem is:

What You Should Do When Your Husband Ignores You

  • 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 comfortable easing back into your relationship. He might be worried that re-establishing your normal intimacy will come with a lot of pressure 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 contribute to 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 cherish about your husband, and then remind him. Bring out the compliments, gratitude, and affirmations you think but don’t always say. Be quick to affirm the places where he’s getting it right — or at least trying.
  • 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 don’t need to 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 honor yourself. A licensed therapist is trained to help you recognize your self-worth and usually has years of experience doing so with other people.

What You Should Avoid

  • Bringing up the issue repeatedly. 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. However, if he is hesitant to talk about what’s bothering him, avoid pressuring or forcing him to communicate before he may be ready.
  • 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. Added pressure can create even more distance in many relationships. 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 can be hindered by extra demands.

Why You Should Be Optimistic

Being Ignored By Your Husband Hurts.

Most couples go through difficult or distant periods in their marriage. If you feel the relationship can be saved, it’s important to remain optimistic. Trained therapists, like those at BetterHelp, can help you address your specific situation. If, however, 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. And 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 1-800-799-7233. Consider reaching out for support and resources.

A trained, licensed therapist or counselor can help you move forward. BetterHelp’s network of licensed counselors have years of experience helping married couples find fulfilling love again. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists, from people experiencing 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, 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.”

Conclusion

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.

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