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Do you feel like you’re living your life alone even though you’re married? Or feel constantly lonely without being actually alone? This is what it can feel like if you are a wife that says, “My husband ignores me.”
Being ignored is painful. It can feel worse than arguing because being ignored can make you feel inconsequential and unimportant. A wife whose husband ignores her often feels isolated, hurt, and can find herself suffering with depression as a result.
But is there really anything you can do to change things?
Yes. Getting your husband to pay attention and stop ignoring you can happen, but first there are a few things you’ll have to figure out.
Are You Really Being Ignored?
One of the biggest complaints from wives is that they feel their husband ignores them. But before you can make a plan for changing that you really need to determine whether or not you’re actually being ignored.
In order to figure out if your husband is ignoring you start by considering the following questions:
- What are your expectations for attention? Are you a person who expects every comment to be met with an acknowledgement? When our own expectations for attention aren’t met, we can automatically go to, “He’s ignoring me.” The truth is that it is possible to expect too much from someone. In a perfect world every conversation would be met with a steady gaze, attentive body language, and questions and comments that demonstrate interest. But neither the world nor any relationship is perfect. This means that attentive behavior can come and go and sometimes it’s not what we’re hoping for. But it may not mean that your husband is pointedly or maliciously ignoring you.
- Do you exhibit the attentive behavior you expect from him? People’s behavior is responsive, especially in a romantic relationship. If you think your husband is ignoring you, stop and consider your own behavior. Are you consistently behaving in the way you expect and desire him to behave? If not, he may be responding to what he’s seeing from you.
- Do you withhold your own attention when you want to punish him? Silence is often weaponized and used as a way to punish someone. Do you ever do that? If you have ever been guilty of using the silent treatment to make your displeasure known you have taught him that you consider this acceptable.
- Is he ignoring you or just not listening? Men are notorious for being unable to multitask. Most wives out there have had the experience of telling their husbands about dates or plans only to have their husband say they have never heard about them. So, although it doesn’t make it okay, consider whether you think he’s ignoring you or just not listening. The biggest difference here is intent. Ignoring someone is a display of passive-aggressive anger, whereas not listening is inconsiderate and somewhat unintentional.
- What are the circumstances in his life outside the marriage? Could it be that he’s just busy and his mind is occupied with work and associated problems? As mentioned, men can have a hard time multitasking and effectively switching gears. To that end, consider whether your husband is ignoring you or preoccupied. They may feel the same, but again it comes back to intent.
The thing that each of these considerations have in common is your husband’s motivation for his behavior. Feeling ignored is painful regardless of the reason, but when it’s an inadvertent behavior it can be more easily corrected.
Why He Might Be Ignoring You
If after considering the points above you are still saying, “My husband ignores me,” then you’ll need to look a bit deeper.
Ignoring someone is either an act of anger or an indication of indifference. Both of these indicate larger problems in the relationship.
Men are not generally the first ones to jump in and want to discuss the problems in a relationship. That doesn’t mean, however, that they are unaware of them. Often men are keenly aware that there’s trouble in their marriage but have no idea how to address or fix it. So instead, they ignore the problems and their wives.
Problems that can push a husband to ignore is wife may include,
- Unresolved arguments and resentment. Couples argue. It’s normal, natural, generally healthy, and completely unavoidable. However, arguments need a resolution. Without coming to a final agreement and putting issues to bed in a way that works for you both, you risk resentment building. When resentment builds partners withdraw from each other. So, if you feel ignored by your husband, look back to the time before this started and consider whether there are things you need to revisit.
- Cheating. If either of you have had an emotional affair or physical one, there are clearly problems. Infidelity in a marriage creates guilt and pulls attention away from the relationship. That diversion of attention can feel like being ignored.
- Feeling belittled or nagged by his wife. Many men avoid their wives and withdraw from them when their wives become hyper-critical. So, consider your behavior. Can he do no right? Are you constantly telling him to get off the couch, do something useful, that whatever he did was wrong, or that he’s a bad husband? Continual badgering and negativity will drive a huge wedge between a husband and wife, and rather than discussing it most men will ignore the source – you.
- Being excluded from family matters. Kids can be a blessing to both moms and dads, but if along the way the teams become mom and kids vs. dad, he will feel isolated and left out. Most men are already feeling mildly like an outsider when it comes to parenting because of the closer bond children generally develop with their mother. This means that if you as the wife and mother tend to leave him out of the big events and decisions, he may begin to feel unimportant and useless to his family. Rather than face that pain many men will ignore it and those that cause it.
- A breakdown in intimacy. Let’s first acknowledge that women want to be wanted by their husbands and feel emotional intimacy. Now, let’s consider who usually controls that. Women tend to have a heavy role in creating physical intimacy and as a result emotional intimacy. Making your husband feel like you want him and need him can break down walls quickly. Men, very generally speaking, most often want to be physically intimate with their wives and leave little room for doubt about that. But when their wife continually rejects them or shows no interest, they can become insecure and resentful, and then distance themselves.
- He’s depressed. When a man is depressed, he disengages with everyone, including his wife. He may not be intentionally ignoring you, but it can feel that way. If this is the case, you will need to work gently with him and find ways to get him the help he needs.
Once you feel like you’ve narrowed down the possible reasons he’s ignoring you then you are in a better position to make changes. It’s important to remember that being demanding or accusatory will not resolve things and will in this case, in fact, make them worse.
How to Get Him To Stop Ignoring You
When a wife says to Dr. Kurt, “My husband is ignoring me,” he generally asks about the above areas and then what she’s tried in effort to resolve things. Sometimes redirecting your husband and getting things back on track can be accomplished with an honest and heartfelt conversation.
Those conversations can be hard to have but detrimental to avoid. Dr. Kurt has observed that lack of conversation is sometimes a big part of the problem when one partner feels ignored. According to him,
Avoidance is one of the biggest and worst habits in relationships. Daily in counseling I'll ask someone something like, 'Did you ask her what she meant?' And almost always I get, 'No.' None of us likes to deal with difficult or uncomfortable topics, or hear something negative from our partner, so we choose to avoid instead. If your husband ignores you it could be partly for this reason. Avoiding issues can easily turn into ignoring your wife. So, if your husband is ignoring you then there are definitely problems that are being avoided too."
Most husbands don’t want to hurt their wives or make them sad. But that doesn’t mean that getting over the problems that have caused them to ignore their wives is easy. And it also doesn’t mean that the problems are strictly theirs to fix.
Problems in a marriage are the responsibility of both partners. Although one may need to make the majority of the changes to their thoughts, feelings, or behavior, both partners will need to be ready and willing to examine and own their part of the situation. And just because you feel like your husband is ignoring you doesn’t automatically mean he’s the one with the most changes to make.
Neglectful behavior that manifests as being ignored can be painful and complicated to resolve. If you are a wife who struggling and complaining that “My husband ignores me,” the good news is that in most cases it can be dealt with and overcome. And it starts with looking in the mirror and having a conversation.
Looking for More? Check Out These Articles
- What You Can Do When Your Husband Isn't Attracted To You
- Do You Have To Tip-Toe Around Your Partner?
- What It Means When You Feel Alone In Your Relationship
- Get More Help When the Love is Gone