Guys, you’ve all been there before, right? You think everything is fine, but your wife operates as though you aren’t even in the room. She walks by you barely acknowledging your physical presence, and every question or attempt at engagement is met with one-word, monosyllabic answers, a “hmmff” or some other sound, or flat-out silence. And there you are, left saying to yourself, "Why is my wife ignoring me?" and, "What does it mean when she ignores me?"
Well, the good news is that you’re not alone. There are many guys out there who’s wives are ignoring them too and wondering the same thing. The bad news is that there’s not an easy answer or an immediate solution. In fact, if your wife is ignoring you, there are a few things you need to consider and likely do to get your relationship back to a healthy place.
What Do You Mean She Ignores You?
When you say your wife ignores you, it sounds rather straightforward – but it’s not. Before determining what her behavior means and what you should do about it, you need to first be able to define (even if it’s just to yourself) what being ignored looks and feels like from your perspective.
Dr. Kurt works with men daily that feel they're being ignored by their wives. According to him,
'My wife ignores me' is a complaint I hear often from the men I counsel. Most of the guys have assumptions they've made about why, but truly don't really know because they haven't asked. Apprehension or fear about what they're wife will say if they do ask is the primary reason they don't. Why poke the bear, right? Not wanting to be told of their accountability in hurting her, or being wrongly blamed or attacked are other reasons. Unfortunately, no response just leads to more of wives ignoring their husbands and husbands ignoring their wives right back. Avoidance is one of the biggest causes of relationship problems and your wife ignoring you is often a prime example of both partners practicing it."
Many men feel as though they are being ignored when what they are really noticing is a change in behavior. If your wife who normally brings you a cup of coffee each morning suddenly stops and rushes off to work with barely a "good-bye", you may feel ignored. But is she ignoring you, or has she got something going on at work that’s caused her to change her routine and it’s affected you? There’s a difference.
Or, conversely, have you been busy and preoccupied recently and are finally able to relax and reengage? It’s not uncommon for men who have busy schedules, especially those who travel a great deal, to feel like they are being ignored when they try to jump back into the family routine. But in this case, you aren’t actually being ignored either. Daily life just has a regular rhythm and routine that you haven’t rejoined or acclimated to yet.
If neither of these scenarios sounds familiar, it’s time to look at things from a different angle and consider in what way you are feeling ignored. So, consider the following questions to help clarify things.
- Does your wife seem generally disinterested in you? How long has it been going on?
- Has your wife suddenly stopped talking with you and/or is giving you the silent treatment?
- Do things in your marriage seem fine until it comes to intimacy, and then it feels like she ignores you? Intimacy in this case can mean either emotional connection or your sexual relationship.
- Do things seem relatively normal, but your wife’s interest in other people far outweighs her interest in you?
Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to better determine what the root cause of feeling ignored is and then you can figure out how to fix it.
What Does It Mean If My Wife Ignores Me?
The answers to the above questions can be a good first step in understanding what your wife’s behavior may mean. But no matter how you break things down, the act of ignoring someone in any manner is a sign of a communication problem.
If your wife is ignoring you or your needs, there is a reason. It may be something personal to her that she needs to work through, or it could be something that you’ve done or said that hurt her. And yes guys, it’s possible that you’ve done something and not realized it. Although, there are many gross generalizations made about both men and women, it’s very often true that women are more sensitive and will keep their hurt and insecurities to themselves, hoping you will "just get it." When you don’t, they may react poorly, possibly ignoring you.
If, on the other hand, she’s wrestling with something, she may not think to (or want to) discuss it with you. In fact, she may be just fine handling it on her own, but as she is working through it an unintended repercussion might be that she’s less attentive.
What To Do And Not To Do If Your Wife Is Ignoring You
It never feels good to be ignored. It feels particularly bad when it’s your spouse ignoring you – it doesn’t matter in which manner. And finding the right way to respond to someone who’s ignoring you, especially someone you love, can be really tricky. Men in particular can find choosing the right response extremely challenging – sorry guys, but it’s true. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the DON’Ts for husband’s whose wives are ignoring them.
If your wife is ignoring you DON’T:
- Ignore her back. This goes along with the two wrongs don’t make a right premise. The last thing you need to do to fix what is ultimately a communication problem is to completely stop communicating. Ignoring your wife to show her what it feels like, or because turn-about-is-fair-play, will not get her attention in a positive way. And it certainly won’t make things better.
- Accuse her of, well, anything. Being ignored can cause you to feel hurt, frustrated, and resentful. But accusing your wife of having an affair or not loving you anymore isn’t the appropriate way to move forward. In fact, doing this will only exacerbate the problem and make things worse.
- Yell or become verbally abusive. None of us wants to say it out loud, but there can be a natural inclination in all of us toward feeling that negative attention is better than no attention at all. For men especially, trying to get your wife’s attention by demanding, yelling, or becoming verbally abusive can be an easier default than we would like to admit. This doesn’t mean that you’re a bad guy, or even an abuser, just that you are reacting badly to a painful situation and need to stop and rethink your approach.
- Seek attention elsewhere. If your wife is ignoring you in any way, for any reason, it’s not a signal to have an affair – of any kind. Men can feel quite tempted to respond to the positive attention of other women when their wives are shutting them out, but regardless of a wife’s behavior a husband is still responsible for his own choices – even the bad ones. Getting close to another woman to the point you’re discussing personal issues and problems is a bad choice and can be considered an emotional affair. Both emotional and sexual affairs will compound your problems exponentially and get you nowhere close to making things better.
Now that we’re clear on what not to do, let’s look at what you should consider doing if you’re wife is ignoring you.
If your wife is ignoring you DO:
- Talk to her. If you do nothing else, do this. But do it gently, and respectfully. Remember, even if it’s a poor response on her part to whatever’s going on, ignoring you is a communication issue. If both of you decide not to communicate effectively it will result in bigger problems than feeling ignored. So, don’t allow her behavior to dictate yours – talk to your wife.
- Show interest in a resolution and concern for her. It may be tempting to tell her what she’s doing wrong and that she’s creating problems in your marriage, but that won’t help. Instead use language that that is collaborative, concerned and calm. Your goal is to have a conversation, not to end up in an argument.
- Look her in the eyes. Eye contact is a big part of connecting with someone and an unspoken part of communication. It conveys concern, attention, and that you are taking things seriously. It’s also very hard to ignore someone when you are looking each other in the eye.
- Tell her you love her. Whatever is going on, telling your wife you love her will help both of you. It’s important for her to know and have it reinforced, and it’s important for you to articulate. Being able to express your love will build your connection to each other, even if you don’t realize it in the moment.
- Talk to her. It is worth repeating.
The bottom-line guys is that if your wife is ignoring you, there might be a problem. But you won’t know what if you don’t talk to her. It’s also possible that she has no idea that she’s ignoring you and never intended to do so. Either way, don’t wait, don’t retaliate – talk.
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