When He Suddenly Walks Out or Hangs Up

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Ladies,

Many of us have experienced something like this with our men – “Things seemed to be going great!  My husband was talking, calling or texting with me when, seemingly out of nowhere, he storms out of the room or hangs up on me.”

WHAT ON EARTH JUST HAPPENED?

WHAT WE USUALLY DO

Most wives panic and begin trying to re-establish communication immediately.  They follow their husband out the door, demanding that he stop and finish the conversation.  Or they call or text frequently, ask lots of questions, beg to try to resolve the problem.

Women use words to fix relationship problems.  The more words, the better, right!?!   We don’t realize that words don’t do much for men.  Actually – sometimes more words can make things a lot worse for men.  Sadly, our intuition tells us to TALK to him right away to try to explain and fix things – and that is the opposite of what a man usually needs in a situation like this.  That is what a wife often needs, but husbands are VERY DIFFERENT FROM US!

When a husband suddenly shuts down, leaves, hangs up – or explodes with anger out of “nowhere,” there is a REALLY good chance that he is feeling disrespected.  Of course, there are other possibilities, but this is one that is worth thinking about first.

WOMEN DON’T ALWAYS NOTICE OUR INADVERTANT DISRESPECT – BUT IT REPELS MEN

It could be something very seemingly “minor,” from a woman’s perspective:

  • You used an “angry mother” tone of voice
  • You tried to have “the talk” with him about where the marriage “is going.”
  • You tried to make him to talk about emotions.  If he is not ready, this will almost always push him away.
  • You told him what to do – implying to him that he was inept, incapable, and unable to figure things out for himself.  Men REALLY value figuring things out on their own.  Men don’t offer unsolicited advice to other men.  That is disrespectful in a man’s world.
  • You tried to FORCE your own plans or your way on him.  Men will resist when they feel controlled.
  • You insulted him in front of other people.  THIS REALLY, REALLY hurts men.  Please DO NOT EVER criticize your husband or “tease” him by bringing up his weaknesses in front of others!!  There is almost nothing that would hurt a husband more than being publicly humiliated by his wife.  Be extremely careful only to share positive things about him with your family, friends, coworkers, children and on FB.
  • You were critical about his dreams, his goals, his career, his sexual abilities, his parenting abilities or something deep-seated in his manhood.
  • You took over and tried to lead in the relationship.  God purposely made husbands the spiritual authority in marriage.  When we try to usurp control, we usually create a lot of very difficult problems. (Biblical Submission)
  • You expected him to think, act and have needs like a woman and didn’t understand his masculine needs.

WHAT DO I DO NOW?

If your husband just quit speaking with you or left the room, or the house – the best thing to do is going to be exactly the thing you don’t want to do -

Let him have some time

Just wait.

DO NOT FOLLOW, CALL OR TEXT HIM!

Do not pursue him.

If you initiate contact right now, it will feel even more intrusive, smothering and disrespectful to him.  Most likely, if you give him some time, he will probably approach you again when he is ready.

  • He may need time to process something in his mind, and if you call a lot and pressure him, it is going to make things much worse.

If you realize what you did specifically that was disrespectful, it may be a good idea to pray about if you should BRIEFLY apologize to him about your disrespect.  When I say briefly, I mean VERY BRIEFLY.  Men are usually not affected by words like women are!  He does NOT want a big, emotional, detailed explanation.  That will push him further away.  Sometimes it’s best to wait till he contacts you.  Sometimes you may need to email an apology.  That will have to be a Holy Spirit-led thing.

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Most likely, his blood pressure was going up and he was afraid he was about to lose control of his words or his temper.  He is probably trying to protect you from his own anger by doing the honorable thing and walking out instead of staying to fight.  Many men feel that if they don’t leave when they are getting extremely angry, they may say or do things they will regret.  They ay need time to cool off before they do something terrible.

If you follow him or try to contact him and make him talk – that is inviting a conflict or confrontation, maybe even a physical fight.

Please, DO NOT DO THAT!!!!!!  This is why I am saying that he needs some time and space.

AN APOLOGY

You could say or email something like, “I see that I came across very disrespectfully to you just now.  I am SO sorry.  I was wrong to do that to you.”   If you don’t believe you have done anything disrespectful – then it may be something that is going on with him that doesn’t have anything to do with you – or it may be some type of disrespect that you are unaware of.

And then, do not contact him again.

LET HIM CONTACT YOU!!!!!!!! If you try to make him come back to you, you’ll push him away!  But if you let him think about your apology, and how wonderful you are – if you can be patient enough to give him the gift of missing you – he will probably eventually come back to you!  When HE is ready.

IN THE MEANTIME

  • Pray and spend time with God first.
  • Get things done that you need to do.
  • Spend time with a godly mentoring wife or godly friends who are willing to point you to Christ and His Word.
  • Enjoy your children.
  • Pray for your husband to find God’s will and to draw near to God.
  • Cultivate a spirit of gratitude and joy – thanking God for every blessing He has given to you.

This is a situation where we trust in God’s sovereignty to work out things for our best interests and we don’t try to be the Holy Spirit or try to be sovereign ourselves.  That would only make things worse and make it harder for our men to hear God’s voice!  

This is a time that you learn to wait on God and see how He works things out.  Waiting on God is a REALLY critical skill.  It’s VERY DIFFICULT TO DO at first, but it is worth it!

WHEN HE CONTACTS YOU AGAIN – My Suggestions:

  • Be friendly, pleasant and polite.  Apologize humbly if you did something offensive to him – without justifying what you did or explaining why you did it.
  • Do not demand a big explanation of where he went and why right now.
  • Listen attentively to what he wants to say.  If he is upset about something you did, listen and don’t defend yourself.  Apologize if you were wrong.
  • If he does not bring up his issue, eventually it may be wise to say, “Did I do something that felt disrespectful to you, Honey?”  and then listen carefully.

He will probably eventually bring up what the problem was.  Or it could be that he was feeling disrespected but can’t verbalize his feelings.

**** If there is MAJOR sin or extremely serious problems in your marriage, you may need some godly counsel from a mentor/Christian counselor/older Christian woman/godly pastor.  Please seek help if there is physical violence, an uncontrolled mental health issue, a major addiction, infidelity, etc…  Those things require much more specialized help than I can possibly address in a general post on marriage.  Please find godly help ASAP!

RELATED:

Why Pressuring Your Man to Talk RIGHT NOW about His Feelings Probably Won’t Work

Understanding a Passive Husband’s Mindset – an Interview with My Husband

Men and Emotions

How Men Think

Signs Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected

Figuring Out What is Disrespectful to Your Man

Respecting Our Husbands As Fathers

Why Men Sometimes Need Space  a 6 minute Youtube video (my channel is “April Cassidy”)

He Won’t Talk to Me

Trying to Find Security in All the Wrong Places

Tone of Voice

Real Security is Only Found Here

Dealing with Financial Stress in Marriage

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23 Comments on “When He Suddenly Walks Out or Hangs Up”

  1. kimberly
    October 14, 2013 at 6:29 am #

    Oh Goodness . . I Do , Enjoy Your Blogs . . I Learn So Much ! My Husband Says , I Make It Hard For Him To Communicate With , For I Have A Tendancy To Make Things To Complicated At Times , When I Speak . Which He Told Me That Saturday Evening , As A Matter Of Fact . I Already Knew I Have That Problem , Cause I Reckon I Have A Different Way Of Explaining / Expressing Things At Times .{ My Mamma Even Told Me That I Can Get To Technical }. Therefore , He Gets Frustrated And Walks Away . I Don’t Mean To Be Difficult For Him . Just Sometimes , I Feel That I Need To Get My Point Across For Clarity.

    To Be Honest , Sometimes I Have To Walk Away From Him , To Keep From Blowing Up Or Saying Something , I Shouldn’t Say .

    I’m Trying To Change , But Almost All The Time I Feel I Am To Blame . Perhaps , I Am . { I Just Reread What I Typed }

    Thank You

  2. Angela
    October 14, 2013 at 7:10 am #

    Wow, right on time, thanks for this!

    My husband has walked out of the house this morning, no explanation, no goodbye, nothing. We were in the middle of discussing finances…. :-(

    He’s never walked out like this before.

    Thank you for the advice, much needed.

    God is good. I will patiently sit, pray and wait….

  3. mewhoami
    October 14, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

    You are right on target here. I have experienced this more than I would like to admit and more times than not I fail terribly at staying quiet. I’m the type that wants to know what happened right away. The waiting drives me crazy. However, my husband is the complete opposite. As you said, confronting him right then makes matters much worse. He needs time to cool down, to process what just happened and to analyze it. I’ve found that if I leave it alone, whether I understand what just happened or not, that he eventually comes back or begins talking again.

    With that said, he rarely expresses to me what it was that set him off. Therefore, I never find out, and unless I realize what I did, I don’t know what to fix. That definitely complicates things. It is frustrating to not understand, but we have to trust that God has everything under control.

    • peacefulwife
      October 15, 2013 at 6:52 am #

      Mewhoami,

      I believe that MANY wives are in the same boat here. I used to be myself! Now I know that disrespect is usually what makes a man shut down. I have a long list of things that husbands have shared here that feel disrespectful to them. Each man has his own list. My husband wasn’t able to articulate to me what would set him off either for many years. Now he can tell me about it. But this is why I treasure this list because there are many wives whose husbands can’t verbalize the issue.

      Check out the posts at the top of my home page about disrespect and also about respect and see if it doesn’t help enlighten you about what may be some of his issues.

      It’s wonderful to hear from you! Let me know if you want to talk about anything! I’m always glad to chat. :)

      • mewhoami
        October 15, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

        Thank you. Marriage is a continual learning process, for both the husband and the wife. I’ll be sure to check out the posts you mentioned. I do appreciate your blog.

  4. kate
    October 15, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    I will apologize if I did something wrong, but sometimes I haven’t done anything wrong and his reaction is irrational. Am I to apologize then too? That doesn’t feel like Biblical submission to me…where is the line between respecting him, owning what is mine to own and while at the same time respectively g myself enough to say to him, “I understand you felt disrespected and you could not continue talking but when you walk away I feel disrespected (translated: unloved)”

    These posts are helpful but in some ways it feels as though you are saying women are responsible for the way men react to their own emotions sometimes…there has to be a balance though and I wonder if you could address that?

    • peacefulwife
      October 15, 2013 at 10:17 am #

      Kate,

      If you have done something wrong- yes, then apologize. :)

      There are times the wives don’t realize that something they did was disrespectful – hopefully a husband will be able to bring that up later. For me, my husband NEVER told me I was disrespectful – for 14.5 years he never said a word about that I had hurt him. He just stayed shut down. I went for many years not knowing I had hurt him or done anything wrong. I wish he had told me what I did that was disrespectful. That would have been a big help!

      So – I am hesitant to address “if you haven’t done anything wrong” – because a wife may not know she has hurt her husband and she may not be aware she has done anything disrespectful, but he may be hurt and feel deeply disrespected.

      Yes, there are times when a husband may respond irrationally. You don’t have to apologize if you have done nothing wrong. That is completely unnecessary! For a great example of a wife dealing with a situation like that, please read “A Wife Handles Her Grumpy Husband Beautifully”

      I like Dr. Emerson Eggerich’s approach in a situation where a husband suddenly “out of nowhere” snaps at his wife. He suggests a wife might say, “Honey, that felt unloving, did I come across disrespectfully just now?”

      If a husband leaves or completely shuts down – you can’t ask him anything at that time – it will make things worse. To try to push him at that point would be to invite major conflict.

      But after he comes around again and has had time to cool down and process – that may be a good time to ask that question calmly and with genuine concern.

      We are each responsible for our own sin and our own emotions. YES!

      It is totally fine to say, “I understand you felt disrespected and you could not continue talking, but when you walk away I feel unloved/disrespected.” AFTER he has cooled down and come back. Or maybe the next day in a brief email.

      Ideally, a husband would be able to verbalize – “I need some time to process all of these emotions. I can’t talk anymore right now. I am afraid I might say something I would regret. Let’s finish talking about this tomorrow night.”

      That would be awesome!

  5. Broken
    November 18, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    I wish I’d had this in my heart sooner. I pray that it’s not too late and that my husband will trust me enough to come back. It’s so very hard. We have 4 kids (ages 8, 6, 3 and 5 days old) and we are living in a one room apartment where it’s mentally hard to cope. I wish he’d also give me some grace and understand that life is hard for me. He’s been staying at his dad’s for three weeks now though he does come by to see the kids. It’s even harder to cope now. He wouldn’t even look at me after I gave birth to our daughter last week (in our bedroom by the way, where he didn’t even come until he heard her first cry) While there is hurt in the husband’s heart, I don’t think it is justifiable reason to abandon his wife where she is most vulnerable as well.

    • peacefulwife
      November 18, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

      Broken,

      Goodness my sweet girl!

      What is going on? Would you be able to tell me a bit more in

  6. Maria
    February 25, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    The strange behavior and rages my husband exhibited on the phone and also face to face was his need to cause conflict because he had an affair going. Once a lying coward who places blame for their actions on anyone else but themselves ALWAYS a no good coward. You cannot pussyfoot around men needing to be accountable. Stop the bs now and be true to yourself and others!

    • peacefulwife
      February 25, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

      Maria,
      If a man is involved in infidelity, I talk often about that wives need to get godly counsel for that and that I do not address severe problems here. I am so sorry for the pain you are experiencing. Yes, husbands are accountable for their behavior, too. Nothing I say to wives negates God’s commands to husbands.

      I pray for you to have a deep walk with Christ and for healing for your soul.

  7. sonyarosser
    April 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    Another brilliant post. So appreciative of each and every post that I read. They all are inspiring and encouraging. Thanks a bunch. I am adhering to each one.

    • peacefulwife
      April 20, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

      Sonyarosser,
      I’m so glad these are a blessing to you. :) Much love!

      • sc13
        September 3, 2014 at 10:18 am #

        I recently found your blog and it has been such a blessing. A month ago, my husband (of 12 years) told me he has never been happy in our marriage and wasn’t sure if he wanted to stay in a marriage he is not happy with. We have a 2 year old daughter. He has been sleeping in a different room for over a month now and barely acknowledges me. When I get home from work, he is there, he will play with our daughter, but when she goes to bed, he either goes into his office without even a word to me or to our 2nd den to watch TV, again, without a word to me.

        I know you said let him have space, but for how long? Do I still go in and say good night to him? Do I go in and just sit with him and watch TV without saying anything? I have no clue what to do. The gap between us grows bigger each day.

        In the midst of this, I found out I cannot have any more children (which is hugely important to my husband, he wanted a big family). He told me he doesnt want to be burdened by my emotions, so to keep them to myself. I can feel myself sinking into a deep depression. My brother and his wife just found out they are having twins and while I should be happy, the news tore me apart. I cry myself to sleep every night.

        I feel so helpless and alone. Even when I try to respect my husband, he responds by snapping at me, yelling at me, or acting frustrated or exasperated with me.

        • Peacefulwife
          September 3, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

          Sc13,

          Oh goodness! What a painful situation!!!! I wish I could hug your neck!!! I can imagine that the news about twins would be so excruciating right now for you.

          Can you please tell me a bit more?

          Do either of you have a relationship with Christ?

          Has your husband said specifically what he needs or what he is upset about?

          I invite you to check out the posts at the top of my home page, they are a great place to start.

          I would suggest doing things to bless him, not expecting anything in return. You can try telling him good night – cheerfully. Or sitting in the room with him in a pleasant, friendly, non pressuring, non pouting kind of way.

          Be careful with your tone of voice and facial expressions. Be friendly and smile and have a pleasant tone of voice.

          As a believer, if you are one, God’s command to you is found in I Peter 3:1-6. You do this as long as it takes.

          How do you usually treat your husband if you don’t get what you want?

          Has he tried to tell you in the past what was bothering him?

          Standing a huge hug, my precious girl!!!
          Much love
          April

          • sc13
            September 4, 2014 at 8:00 am #

            April, thanks so much for your quick reply. I have a relationship with Christ, my husband does not.

            In hindsight, yes, he has told me what he needs for our entire marriage. He wants to feel like he is #1 on my priority list, he wants us to act like a team/united front, he feels I put everything and anything else above him (I’ve read so many of your posts, and realize now I am a people-pleaser who overloads myself and can be a martyr). He wants me to ask him deeper questions about how he is doing (he is going blind, and doesn’t feel I have shown much concern for his struggles with his diagnosis, for example). In the past, if I didnt get what I wanted, I pouted, cried, had an adult-temper-tantrum – yuck, I know. He has tried for years to tell me what he wants, but before finding your blog, it always resulted in a heated argument because he would say that he didnt care that my needs werent being met because his weren’t being met, and it would explode. Then I would apologize and we’d be good, until the next round.

            I realize now how incredibly disrespectful I have been. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. I hope it isn’t too late. He sent me an email a week ago saying he hasn’t left the home yet (meaning, he is trying to stay married) but he wasn’t sure if he could stay in a relationship he is unhappy in.

            After learning my brother is expecting twins, I reverted back to my old self – I cried uncontrollably, put our daughter to bed, and went straight to bed afterwards. I was unhappy and it showed, even our 2 year old asked me what was wrong.

            I feel so “fake” putting on a cheerful face right now, but I am trying because I know it is the right thing to do. I am in the quiet phase where I have no clue what to say or how to act – I feel so uncomfortable in my own home.

            I also fight angry thoughts throughout the day. I am angry at the thought I wont have more children because he wont go to the fertility treatments. I am angry because if he isnt going to divorce me, then I want him to think longer term and realize if we dont try IUI now, we wont be able to have more biological children. I’m angry that he isnt being supportive of the fertility news. I am angry that he is so cold. When I step outside of my anger, I realize that 12 years of hurt that I helped cause brought us to where we are, but I still feel myself slipping and blaming him for not “snapping out of it” and thinking long term about our family.

            I want to change so much because he is an amazing man, he works so hard for our family, he has done so much to build a beautiful life, he gives me every material thing I’ve ever wanted, he is supportive of my career, etc etc etc. I want to honor him, because in my heart, I believe he is an amazing man. But for some reason I cant get out of my own way.

            I cannot tell you how much your blog has helped me through this. You are truly a blessing and I thank you so much for sharing such intimate parts of your life in such a selfless effort to help women like me.

            • Peacefulwife
              September 4, 2014 at 8:47 am #

              sc13,

              Well that is very helpful that he has shared what he wants and needs! You don’t have to try to guess!

              I wish I could hug your neck!

              Have you apologized for your disrespect and for not meeting his needs yet?

              If not, let’s talk about that before you do it.

              How is your walk with Christ?

              Are you willing to consider that God is sovereign even over your fertility and your husband and your marriage, and that He is able to cause things to work out for your ultimate best and your ultimate good (by His definition) and His ultimate glory?

              Is it possible that having more children has become more important to you than your walk with Christ, or than your husband, or than your husband’s pain or than your marriage?

              Are you willing to lay down your dream to have more children if it means that you are honoring God, obeying Him and breathing life and healing into your marriage?

              Are you willing to let go of the resentment and bitterness and unforgiveness?

              Much love to you!

            • Peacefulwife
              September 12, 2014 at 11:26 am #

              SC13,
              You know what? It sounds like things have actually changed a lot already. It sounds like your husband is willing to do the IUI and is being supportive of the fertility news.

              Maybe there are some things to praise God for in the midst of the storm already.

              Much love!
              April

              • sc13
                September 12, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

                I agree! But I am also so new to this, I kind of feel like I “forced” him to be willing. (Why do I think I am that powerful? LOL. I don’t know).

                I tried to follow the advice of telling him “I want to expand our family and I am scared because our doctor told us it may already be too late and we only have a month or two to decide.”

                He told me he is willing to do the IUI and go in for his tests next week. He also told me he is not going to divorce me (right now). But he did say he was not sure if he could get over 12 years of disrespect and he wasn’t entirely sure what our future looked like. I feel like these messages all conflict each other, which left me unsure.

                I asked him to make the final call about whether we SHOULD do the IUI (meaning, not just is he willing, but should we actually do it) and he got very angry. He raised his voice and said “I already told you I was willing!!!” and then he sighed heavily and walked off. I followed him (ugh, I shouldn’t have) and asked him a question and he turned his back on me and sighed again. So I left the room. I sent him a message this morning thanking him for talking with me and for being so selfless in his willingness to do the IUI and apologizing for being disrespectful for trying to make him talk when he clearly did not want to. No response.

                He has made it clear what he wants as respect – to be the leader in our home, to know that I am loyal to him, to know that he is my priority (I’m a people pleaser). He wants me to establish better boundaries with my family. And not emasculate him.

                I’m trying, but oftentimes I’m left clueless as to what to do. He is king of the silent treatment and it can go on for MONTHS. I havent yet found the balance of letting him know I am committed and respectful and will be pleasant when he “comes back” with letting him pursue me. I’m afraid carrying on about my business and letting him be will send him the message I’m not interested in mending things.

                This is hard! Worth it, but hard! :)

                • Peacefulwife
                  September 12, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

                  sc13,

                  I know this is like learning Chinese. It is very difficult at first! Husbands don’t realize what a foreign language they speak, or how long it usually takes for wives to really “get” respect.

                  That 3rd paragraph “he told men he is willing to do the IUI… He also told me he is not going to divorce me right now..”

                  Take that as his word. He did tell you he will do it. He is saying he won’t leave right now. He doesn’t have Christ, so he doesn’t have the Holy Spirit and he doesn’t have the mercy, grace and forgiveness of Christ to draw from.

                  But, I believe as God continues to change you, he will be much more willing to stay and that he will feel safer with you in time. But it will take time.

                  If he tells you something, accept it. Believe him. That is respectful. :) Continuing to ask him and pressure him when he gave you an answer just frustrates him. He felt he communicated very clearly to you.

                  It’s fine that he didn’t respond to your apology. That’s ok.

                  The People Pleasing stuff has to go.

                  Now it is time to just be a God pleaser. :)

                  Goodness, silent treatment for months would be really tough.

                  Maybe it went on so long because he continued to feel disrespected? I’m not sure.

                  It may be good to share with him that you want very much to learn what respect means to him – and that you appreciate his patience. I wonder if he would be willing to write out what respect/disrespect mean to him?

                  It does sound like you have some clear ideas of what he wants – and those are good things he is asking for.

                  What happens if you smile at him whenever you walk through a room? Or just send one or two sentences a week to him via text to tell him something you admire/appreciate about him?

                  Praying for God’s wisdom for you!

                  It will take great sensitivity to God’s Spirit for you to know exactly what to do and what to say and when. And it takes practice, too. And an increasing knowledge of your husband and how he thinks. He is very, very different from you. That is a good thing! As he feels more accepted, he will most likely, eventually, relax a bit. But it may be awhile.

                  Most of all, I am praying for God to empower you to be faithful to Him. That is the main thing. This is ultimately all about you and your walk with Jesus.

                  Much love!
                  April

        • Peacefulwife
          September 12, 2014 at 11:27 am #

          sc13,
          I also hope you will read my comment about my story on the post today.

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