My Husband Is Ignoring Me: How To Restore Communication

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox
Updated February 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact theDomestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Being ignored can be a terrible experience that often stings worse when it comes from someone you consider a beloved partner. So, you’re likely to feel both confused and hurt if your husband is shutting you out. What can you do to bring back healthy communication in your marriage?

The answer may depend a great deal on what’s causing this unexpected distance. Your husband might be ignoring you on purpose out of anger, or he might simply be distracted by day-to-day stress. It’s also possible that he’s withdrawing because he’s having difficulty processing strong emotions about something in his life. See below for some ideas on how to identify, address, and resolve the issue.

Getty/Xavier Lorenzo
Feeling ignored can be painful and upsetting

The pain of being ignored by a loved one

Sometimes it can be hard to take action when you’re feeling ignored. You may not want to admit to yourself how much your partner’s lack of attention affects you. It can feel like you’re giving them “too much power,” or overreacting to something that’s not a serious problem.

Yet there’s no denying that being cut off from interpersonal relationships hurts.

Neurological research has shown that it can activate the same areas of the brain that light up when we’re in physical pain, and prolonged isolation can have a variety of negative consequences for mental health. Human beings appear to have a deep need for care and attention from the people we love.

A lack of communication can also be detrimental to the long-term health of your marriage. A 2012 study found that more than half of couples who divorced said that an inability to talk to one another was a major reason for the breakdown of their relationship. Restoring your ability to talk with your husband could be necessary if you want your partnership to last.

Why does your husband ignore you?

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Saying, “my husband is ignoring me” can cover a surprisingly wide range of behaviors. These different scenarios may call for different solutions. We’ll explore what each one might mean for your relationship and what you can do about it.

Scenario 1: Your husband is distracted and inattentive

Does your husband always seem to be scrolling on his phone when you’re supposed to be spending time together? Is he retreating into TV or his laptop as soon as he gets home? Surveys show that this can be a problem in many romantic relationships.

For some men, this may simply be a matter of the powerful temptation offered by modern electronic devices. Rather than consciously ignoring you, he could be falling into distractions without realizing it. In this case, you may need to have a serious conversation with him about cutting back on phone use, perhaps establishing “tech-free times” when you’ll spend time together face to face. 

It may help to examine your own tech-related behavior first and make a point of decreasing your phone use. Then you can mention to your husband that you’ve enjoyed feeling more present in day-to-day life, and suggest that a reduction in screen time could benefit both of you.

If he’s resistant to this idea, it might be time to let him know how his inattention is affecting your marriage. You can try explaining that you’ve been feeling disconnected from him because it seems like his mind is elsewhere when you’re together. This might help him understand why creating space for phone-free interactions may be important for your partnership.

Another thing that might help is finding novel, exciting activities to do together. It’s possible that your marriage has hit a bit of a rut and the routine is leaving him bored or restless. Researchers studying long-term couples who described themselves as “intensely in love” found that trying new and interesting challenges as a couple was strongly linked to relationship health.

Scenario 2: Your husband is ignoring you for other priorities

Sometimes it’s not technology that’s taking your husband’s attention away — it’s other demands on his time. If he’s grappling with career challenges, problems with other individuals in the family, or other major issues, it could cause him to forget to make time for you. Even when you are together, he might be too emotionally exhausted to talk.

If you know that the situation is temporary, the best thing you can do may be to try to support him through it. There are times in life when it’s impossible to find time for everything, and a willingness to make occasional sacrifices can be important in building a successful marriage. Consider whether you can take some of your husband’s responsibilities off his plate. With less to stress about, he may be better able to spend time with you.

On the other hand, if this has become a long-term pattern in your relationship, you may need to have a discussion with him about making time with you a priority. You can let him know that he needs to include your relationship in his plans. 

If that doesn’t change his behavior, you may need to consider whether you’re enabling him. Are you constantly rearranging your life around his schedule and making sure to be there for him whenever he’s finally able to get away? This may only send him the message that he doesn’t really need to change. 

Instead, you can try finding your own hobbies and activities to do without him. And instead of postponing dinners, outings, and family trips when he can’t make it, you can simply go by yourself (or with the kids). This may make it clear that he’s missing out on time with you because of his choices. As a bonus, it might also boost your self-esteem and help him to see you as a complete person instead of an extension of his life.

Scenario 3: Your husband ignores you when he’s upset

Many people tend to become silent and withdrawn when they’re feeling angry, sad, upset, or worried. Some research indicates that this type of response is more common among men. This may be due to differences in socialization between genders that result in many men feeling less equipped to express their emotions. As a result, they may be inclined to avoid conflict and become silent when something is wrong.

Giving your husband some space when he’s upset may make it easier for him to work through his emotions. But if he’s ignoring you for prolonged periods, it can be detrimental to your self-esteem and to the health of the relationship. Some psychologists have noted that the “silent treatment” can even be a form of emotional abuse.

Does your husband frequently refuse to acknowledge you for hours or days at a time? Does he use silence to punish you for disagreeing with him, criticizing him, or not giving in to his demands? If so, it might be worth asking yourself if you’re in a healthy relationship. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can offer information and assistance if you’re concerned about an abusive spouse.

If your husband is simply having a hard time processing his feelings, you may want to remind him that maintaining communication is important even if you can’t resolve the problem right away. You can let him know that you’d rather he tell you “I need time to think this through, and I will talk with you about it later” instead of simply going silent.

Scenario 4: Your husband is ignoring you for no apparent reason

It may not always be clear to you why your husband has become inattentive and distant. This can be particularly distressing since it can leave you with no idea how to address it. In some cases, this shift could mean that he’s unhappy in the relationship and has started mentally checking out. It could also be a warning sign of infidelity. 

There could also be plenty of less drastic explanations. However, your husband will almost certainly need to communicate with you in order to avoid serious damage to your marriage. You might have to make it clear to him how distressing and damaging this silence has become, explaining that he needs to talk with you if he wants to salvage the relationship.

Scenario 5: He’s not ignoring you

It’s often worth at least considering the possibility that factors like anxiety or low self-esteem are the real reasons you’re feeling ignored. Sometimes a person’s need for attention, affection, and reassurance can become excessive, causing them to feel like their partners are pulling away when they’re not. This may be exacerbated by some mental health conditions. 

Before you assume that something is wrong in your marriage, you might want to ask yourself whether your feelings of being ignored crop up in response to emotional stress. If so, you could be projecting negative emotions onto an otherwise healthy relationship.

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Feeling ignored can be painful and upsetting

Therapy can help with all of these scenarios

No matter what’s behind the breakdown of communication with your husband, seeking therapy as a couple could be an important step toward resolution. The existing research suggests that couples who engage in therapy have significantly better odds of making their relationships work in the long run. 

Many couples find online therapy to be a convenient option — when you can connect with a therapist remotely, it may be easier to fit sessions into both parties’ schedules. The added distance of internet counseling can also be reassuring if you’re worried about people in your community learning about your marital challenges.

Studies on the outcomes of online relationship therapy indicate that it’s positive and helpful for most couples who try it. A 2020 paper reported even participants who were skeptical of the online method often reported that it worked well for them. Some noted that talking with their therapists remotely gave them an added sense of control that helped them feel more comfortable with the therapeutic process.

Takeaway

Your husband ignoring you could be due to distraction, excessive demands on his time, or an unhealthy response to negative emotions. The best way to restore communication may depend on what’s at the root of the problem. But letting him know how it’s affecting you is likely to be an important first step. If his behavior doesn’t change after an honest conversation about your needs, you might want to pursue couples therapy together.

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