Your husband says something that sounds like he’s defending another woman. It upsets you. But you don’t know if it should or how to go there without being a catastrophizing wife.
Every month, thousands of women find this blog because they are experiencing some type of broken trust in their relationship.
I have written on what to do when a spouse breaks (or appears to break) trust and I’ll link to some of the posts below.
Today’s thoughts are for the wife who is in a mostly healthy marriage, who gets anxious when her husband speaks in favor of another woman.
The Oxford Languages dictionary defines Defending as: “to speak in favor of (an action or person); attempt to justify.”
Sometimes there are good reasons to be concerned when a husband supports or defends another woman, vs supporting his wife.
Other times, the concern is off-target.
For the newlywed wife (who is my primary audience), sorting out what is normal, what is abnormal and how to handle each situation can feel overwhelming sometimes.
In today’s post, I will attempt to help you look at marriage boundaries from a slightly different point of view.
If your marriage is not at a healthy place or you have confirmed an affair is taking place, some of the thoughts shared below might be helpful but I encourage you to seek counseling.
Let’s dive in
6 Useful Things To Do If Your Husband Defends Another Woman
1. Does your husband have to agree with you all the time?
This question might sound offensive because of the context. But I think it’s a legitimate question when we want to eliminate overreacting.
Many people come into marriage believing their spouse should ask “how high? every time they say “jump!”
Yet marriage is a mixed bag of diverse values, beliefs, likes, hopes, and experiences: we don’t “own” our spouse and neither are we in charge of their every affection or attention.
That means we have to learn how to healthily interact with people of the opposite sex, both as a couple and as individuals.
If your heart jumps every-time your husband is courteous to another woman, or you are heartbroken because he didn’t support your idea (and instead supported someone else’s) you might need to do some self-inspection, before you inspect your spouse.Certainly, when and how a spouse speaks his mind (as well as the issue itself) matters and we’ll talk about that shortly.
2. Is your husband silent in an area you wish he wasn’t?
So you have a strong opinion on what another woman said or did, but your husband doesn’t share your enthusiasm.
And you take his silence or half-halfheartedness as agreement with “the other side.”
Years ago, I was having a testy conversation with another girl. (At least it was difficult for me.) Her husband happened to see us talking and he approached us.
His wife explained our discussion and then asked for his opinion. Sometimes wife-speak for take-my-side-right-now.
Mr. Husband smiled widely and said, “You ladies are so smart! You’ll figure it out!” Then turned and made a quick exit, scoring exactly zero brownie points with his wife.
Over the years, I have learned that most men are not skilled at navigating the female-sphere. If a man senses tension, he retreat. (My husband has shared about his personal struggle in this post –> Communication in Marriage: A Husband’s Perspective. )
Unlike women who can tinker, talk and help, men feel helpless and in-over-their-head. And it leads to a disappearing act.
When you feel like your husband is defending another woman, make sure to rule out assumptions. Don’t assume his silence or lack of enthusiasm means something it doesn’t.
Instead of filling in the gaps, find out what he truly thinks.
3. Are you suspicious of his motives for defending another woman?
Let’s say your husband is defending a friendship he has with another woman.
Perhaps it’s a workmate who enjoys crossing the line. Or a neighbor who’s too comfortable around him but distant to you. Your husband insists the friendship is harmless, nothing to be worried about.
In fact, he’s upset because you won’t let the issue go. Asking “why is my husband defending this friendship?” is a good thing.
But here’s another angle to chew on:
Making a big emotional deal about his association with another woman as the only incentive for him to change might result in more frustration. Because one spouse’s hurt doesn’t always result with the other spouse changing.
I know that’s hard to accept. Because before “I do”, your guy could have walked 40-miles on bare hands just to make you smile. Emotions were a big deal.
And they are still important in marriage.
But marriage also means maturity. Where we grow beyond emotional paralysis, learn to dig deeper into mindset change and understand the importance of individual choice.
In growing up, we refuse to curl up and die because he hurt our feelings: We grieve yes, but also press past that initial hurt so we can address the real issue.
In Module 3 of my conflict resolution course, we talk about how to articulate concerns when you are heartbroken, including what to do when your husband won’t change. We talk about the importance of being clear and exact, so you don’t keep circling around the same problem. >> Check out the course: Click here. <<
You can also read the following blog posts, for a different perspective and some possible next steps, when you suspect your husband’s motives:
4. Is he naturally a defensive person?
I hate to admit it, but I am naturally defensive.
When someone disagrees with my point of view, my mind automatically churns rejoinders.
With God’s help and doing life with my Tommy (who is as smart as a whip <– see God’s humor), I have become less defensive. But overcoming defensiveness seems to be a life-time project.
Maybe your husband is like me, quick with words whenever someone pokes at his opinion. Instead of assuming something is going on with another woman, figure out if he’s just defending an idea.
Obviously, being defensive is not an endearing trait. But having this type of clarity might clear up some apprehension.
5. How your husband “defends another woman” matters.
Hot on the heels of what I’ve said:
It’s okay to have a different healthy opinion. It’s even okay to be growing and maturing out of unhealthy ones.
What is not okay is being unkind about it.
Here’s a scenario:
Let’s say you and your husband are having dinner with a couple friend of yours. The wife says something that you disagree with. And because you’re friends, you have an easy-but-serious (ever had those?) back and forth.
But it so happens that factually, your point of view is wrong and the other woman is right. And your husband knows it.
At that point, very few husbands would feel a great need to thoroughly correct or admonish their wives in public.
If a husband goes ahead to “correct the facts” in a way that alienates, disrespects or dishonors his wife, the chances are that there’s a lot more going on in that marriage.
6. Should your husband defend another woman?
The big question remains: should my husband defend another woman?
My summary thoughts:
1. Sometimes, your husband will defend an opinion, but you will think he’s supporting a person.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to inspect yourself before you inspect your spouse. Plus have a conversation about it so you know his real opinion.
2. When you suspect your husband’s motives, be exact, instead of using your hurt as the primary gauge for change.
This resource shows you how to have those hard conversations without being accusing while still being honest.
3. Sometimes, you are wrong.
If you are disrespectful or out of line, it may be necessary for your husband to step in (because spouses help each other out like that.)
4. Healthy debates are normal
Many couples don’t have a problem debating with their spouse, with and around other people.
Healthy and respectful debates are not always bad. They can be fun! But spouses should be careful so healthy banter doesn’t cross the line.
5. Of unhealthy family ties
A mother-in-law can begin to feel like “the other woman” if a husband constantly stands up for her, instead of supporting his wife.
If your husband is still attached to his family of origin in unhealthy ways, this post might be helpful >> How to Deal with Disrespectful In-laws and Protect Your Marriage
6. Ultimately, the goal of marriage is to be one, even if we disagree.
Most healthy men wouldn’t think twice about defending their wives. Even if she’s on the wrong.
Most healthy spouses understand the concept of unity, both in speech and deed, even when they have different opinions.
Winding up and a caveat:
I am not unaware of the fact that for many marriages where a husband defends another woman, the husband is on the wrong. Today’s post is not at odds with that thought, rather it seeks to add another angle especially for new wives.
It’s a sensitive topic I know and I hope you get my thought process: It’s not an either/or situation. We can juggle personal responsible and hold our accountable, at the same time!
Your turn: I’d love to hear what you think! What point stood out the most to you? What else can a wife do, in terms of personal growth, when she feels her husband doesn’t stand up for her? Let’s talk in the comments!
If different opinions and perspective are a big concern in your marriage, check out my conflict resolution course below. WATCH NOW