There’s a common belief that men are more sensitive to “dishonor” than women.
So wives are told to respect their husbands and husbands are asked to love their wives.
Now, in all fairness, I don’t have a problem with the thought per se: I think men can feel slighted more easily than women.
But I believe the “men need respect” thought is incomplete: Respect isn’t something that is reserved for men only: Women need to feel respected too.
Moreover, the intimate union that is marriage requires both husband and wife to “outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)
Today, we are talking about respect in marriage! Specifically, what a woman can do when she feels my husband has no respect for me or my feelings.
And I am excited to have Ashley, my blogging friend and guest contributor, share her thoughts with us! Ashley holds a psychology degree, and I always love her perspective on relationships!
Here’s Ashley, jumping right in
Before we start, let me clarify the types of disrespect that can exist in a marriage, so we are on the same page. There are three types of wives:
1. The under-reacting wife.
This is the wife who is unsure if she’s being disrespected or not. So, for the most part, she allows hurtful and potentially dangerous behaviors to go without consequence.
2. The overreacting wife.
This the wife who views differences or imperfect human behavior in marriage as disrespect. Here’s a post that explains the difference between overreaction and under-reaction when it comes to disrespect.
3. The appropriately reacting wife.
This is the wife who recognizes the difference between overreaction and under-reaction. She wants to know what to do about the disrespect she is experiencing before it worsens.
In this post, I’ll be addressing the 3rd type.
We will be discussing truly disrespectful behavior, not dealing with minor annoyances or differences. We are also not discussing abusive and dangerous behavior.
If you are being abused verbally, physically, emotionally, or sexually, your first priority is your safety. Please find a safe place and get help.
Abusive behaviors include coercion, manipulation, gas-lighting, isolation, withholding financial resources, being physically or emotionally violent, forcing you to engage in sexual activity, digital blackmail, and more. Abusive behavior puts you in danger and/or limits your freedoms or resources. You can read through this comprehensive guide about abusive behavior here
Before we talk about what to do when you feel disrespected by your husband, let me offer some examples to clarify disrespect in marriage.
Examples of disrespectful behaviors we’re addressing:
1. Inappropriate behavior with the opposite sex
This is where a married man engages the opposite sex in a way that makes his wife uncomfortable or encroaches their marriage boundaries
PS: If your spouse is actively involved in an affair, physically or emotionally, that goes beyond disrespect and requires a different action.
2. Ignoring boundaries
You’ve communicated that you do not want to discuss personal matters between the two of you in front of family, but your spouse keeps bringing them up in front of the family anyway.
This is an example of an ignored boundary and disrespectful behavior.
3. Not honoring your partnership
A marriage is made up of two people. If one person is consistently not “doing their share,” it can start to wear on the other spouse. This can look like dumping responsibility on one spouse or refusing to assist when asked.
4. Making large decisions without your input
This could be spending large amounts of money, taking a new job in a new town, quitting their job, allowing someone to crash in your guest room – decisions that affect the whole family made without consultation.
5. Constantly belittling you or criticizing your (especially in front of others)
This is when your spouse is making demeaning comments, criticizing your appearance, putting you down in front of others, and inappropriately teasing you.
6. Refusing to listen to you or communicate with you
This includes the silent treatment or refusing to put the phone down or turn off the TV so you can have a conversation. It could also be refusing to discuss an important topic and/or walking away from the conversation while you are talking.
7. Withholding physical affection or sexual intimacy
Withholding affection is different from mutually setting aside time to be celebrant for spiritual purposes (1 Corinthians 7:5).
This would be intentionally not touching, holding, kissing, or engaging in intimate activity for an extended period of time with no explanation, generally used as punishment.
8. Refusing to apologize or take responsibility for their actions
Your spouse might continually blame you for everything in your marriage while refusing to apologize to you or acknowledge their own faults.
I hope these examples help narrow down what I mean by disrespect in marriage.
Now, please note each couple and individual is unique: there may be actions that make you feel disrespected by your husband that are not on this list.
Now, let’s talk about what to do when you feel disrespected in marriage
6 things to do when you feel my husband has no respect for me or my feelings
1. Clearly communicate expectations
Uncommunicated expectations are a common marriage faux pas that often leads to a lot of hurt and misunderstanding.
When you feel dishonored by your husband, make known your expectations.
A man grows up in a home where teasing is as common as breathing. To him, talking about someone’s appearance in front of others (even in a negative sense) is normal, even fun.
Then he marries someone who grew up in a home where everyone watched their words. Dressing down a sibling in front of others was considered a no-no. Positive words and building each other up was normal.
For this couple to have a pleasant and healthy relationship, the woman must communicate what she finds unpleasant and disrespectful.
Now the husband could just study his wife and stop doing what she dislikes. And many guys will. However, the wife who is feeling the pain, shouldn’t wait in her pain.
A good marriage is about clue-ing each other in when we are clueless. Once informed and if the husband doesn’t make adjustments, at that point, he is breaking boundaries with his wife.
We’ll talk about boundaries shortly, but please check out this practical resource which shows you what to do when your spouse won’t change or meet your reasonable expectations.
2. Set clear boundaries and stick to them
Generally, boundaries teach others how we want to be treated. If your husband is still disrespectful, even after sharing your expectations, the next step is to set up a boundary.
Now, many people misunderstand the purpose of healthy boundaries in marriage. They see them as manipulative and controlling
Some fast facts:
- Boundaries are not reserved for difficult marriages or circumstances: even healthy couples have boundaries with each other. They know each other’s rhythms, tastes and dislikes and seek to honor those.
- Boundaries are not a way to get your spouse to do what you want. They simply let your spouse know how far is too far.
Let’s discuss a boundary situation in marriage.
A husband likes to raise his voice when he’s frustrated or angry. An example of a good boundary to have is to not communicate about a subject if your spouse is yelling.
If your spouse does not stop yelling and after being reminded, you will stop engaging and walk away for a set period of time.
How To Navigate Conflict in Marriage, the resource I referenced earlier, is a connection course for spouses who feel unheard and unseen. Module 3 offers a step-by-step process on how to create healthy boundaries with a difficult spouse (complete with what to say and what to avoid, so you don’t miss anything.) Check it out here.
3. When your husband has no respect for you or your feelings, remember where your identity lies
While your marriage is important, it is not more important than your relationship with Christ. You are not defined by the title “Wife.”
As best-selling author and relationship expert Gary Thomas says,
If you fear most of all that your man will leave you—if your marital status rather than God defines your life—you’ve just given up one of the greatest tools God has given you to influence your husband.
You need to cling to the truth that you are a Christ-follower before you are a wife. Root yourself in who God says you are, above all, so that you stand firm and hold your ground in your marriage.
Failure to do so will leave you frustrated, hurt, unfulfilled and overwhelmed.
4. Work on your own behavior
While it’s normal to desire your spouse to change (and you should expect them to), the only thing you truly control is your own actions and thoughts.
When you believe you can change your spouse, you create more problems because you’ve essentially decided you are God.
I know we don’t want to hear “work on you,” when it’s our spouse who is the problem. But when you think about it, it’s actually freeing to know we can still do something, even in difficulties.
Knowing that you still have the power to remain calm, respectful, kind, and patient, is empowering. Your spouse doesn’t have as much power over you as you think they have.
Further, sometimes the best thing we can do for the marriage is to be an example of the change we wish to see.
If we are routinely blowing up and dishing back disrespect whenever we feel triggered, we are not setting the standard of where we want the relationship to be.
But if our spouses can see us choosing to respect ourselves and live a Spirit-led life, inspite of the trouble they cause, they might become more open to change their own behavior.
(This is not to say your husband’s disrespect is your fault. What I am saying is you can live a God-honoring life, no matter what is going on in your relationship.)
5. Get counsel
Ngina chiming in here!
I have been writing this blog for a long time, and one of the responses I get from wives when I inquire about their “village” and it’s ability shore up their troubled marriage is “but our problems don’t warrant outside intervention.”
I understand the discomfort of inviting an outsider into a messy relationship. But we have to think of our marriage as a union that cannot thrive in isolation.
When you think about it, we don’t question taking up new classes if it will improve our chances of advancing our career. We buy books, watch shows and readily offer advice when a friend asks our opinion. We don’t see instruction as a weakness.
“Counsel” is a part of life: we are part of real human community. When disrespect (or any other relationship problem) becomes an issue, we need to find a trusted person to talk to.
It really helps to chat with someone else and get that listening ear, which in and of itself is healing. If you can’t figure things out by yourself, the chances are that someone else can help. (A pastor, mentor, counselor.)
Your first stop, in seeking counsel, when your husband hurts you, is God.
But sometimes, the last person we want to talk to is God.
We are frustrated, broken-hearted that a husband has no respect for us or our feelings, even wondering why this is happening to us. Sometimes we’ve prayed for change and we are confused that God hasn’t answered our prayers yet.
It helps when we try to remember what prayer is. It’s communion with God: a relationship. It’s no a one-sided association where you give your list of issues and only talk when those issues are addressed to your satisfaction.
That is not a relationship. It’s an unhealthy focus on us.
We connect with our Heavenly Father, first and foremost, because He is worthy of our attention. We recognize that we of Him and thrive when He is most prioritized.
Ultimately, when you pray for your husband, remember to
- Pray for his heart, that it would be softened and humbled.
- Pray for your strength and resolve.
- Pray for clarity to see any areas where you can improve.
- Pray that you and your spouse would glorify God.
To help you do that, here’s a post, sharing 2 powerful keys to help you pray for your husband. (with a free printable).
6. Protect your heart against resentment and malice
Being disrespected is painful. You’ll feel frustrated, angry, and impatient and be tempted to fight back in an unproductive way.
You might convince yourself that it’s okay to yell back, sling your own insults, or reciprocate their disrespect. You must guard yourself against retaliation and resentment.
In his book, When To Walk Away, (affiliate link) Gary Thomas writes,
One of the most vulnerable times for us to sin is when we are first sinned upon.
So pray specifically for the Lord to keep your heart soft, pure, and free of spite of bitterness.
Read Scriptures that encourage your heart, such as Ephesians 4:31-32, which says,
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
How to Navigate Conflict in Marriage marriage course offers more ideas on how to stay sane while engaging a husband who’s causing hurt in the marriage. Check it out here.
So those are my 6 thoughts on how to handle disrespect in marriage. Again, please note that my thoughts are for wives who are not in toxic or abusive marriages. If you are in an abusive marriage please find safety and get counseling.
Maybe you are frustrated because you can’t get your husband to open up: You are all “talked-out” but your marriage still feels broken. Or perhaps you have healthy communication but you struggle with every-day marriage irritations and annoyances. How to Navigate Conflict in Marriage is a conflict resolution course for wives who are interested in healthy communication, who understand that healthy communication takes two and who desire to learn their part of that process. WATCH NOW (For a limited time only, use 25OFF to get 25% off)
About Writer: Ashley Nicole Harris is a writer and Bible teacher, whose mission is to see women’s lives changed by learning to know God intimately through His Word. She enjoys writing at Faithfully Planted, reading while sipping a La Croix, and enjoying God’s beautiful creation with her husband of 7 years, Mark.