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Why Your Husband May Not Immediately Do What You Want Him to Do

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Are we trying to control our husbands?

I had another impromptu interview with my husband.  I’m so thankful he is usually game for answering my questions!  He is able to express a masculine point of view very clearly now – I learn so much from him every time we talk!  My husband may not be speaking for all men as he answers these questions.  I hope other husbands might be willing to share their perspectives, as well.  But I think it is possible that other husbands may look at things the way my husband does – and this may be something to prayerfully consider for us as wives.  (If you have SERIOUS issues in your marriage – your husband has uncontrolled mental health problems, major addictions,  major unrepentant sin, physical abuse, infidelity, etc… this post may not apply to your husband.  Please seek godly, wise counsel ASAP!):

I was talking with my husband about a situation that – I would guess – probably happens in almost every marriage at some point, maybe MANY points:

The wife feels disconnected emotionally.  She feels like she is not a priority.  She feels like work, the TV, hobbies, the kids or friends are bigger priorities for her husband than she is.  She is feeling unloved.  So she begins to say things like:

  • Why don’t you ever sit with me?
  • I want us to sit together/cuddle.  We never spend time together.
  • I’m not a priority to you.
  • If you really loved me, you would make time for me and you would want to sit with me on the couch (or cuddle with me in bed) instead of sitting by yourself at the computer/in the recliner.
  • I want to be with you, but you never want to be with me.  You wouldn’t care if we never spent time together.
  • You need to sit with me right now!
  • Oh, no!  Where do you think YOU’RE going?????  You can’t go out with your friends.  You’re spending time with ME!
  • Why can’t you turn off the TV and talk to me????!?!!
  • Why did you even marry me if you never want to be with me?
  • You obviously love the TV more than you love me.
  • I have felt disconnected from you for weeks!  All you want me for is sex.  I feel like such a piece of meat to you.
  • You care more about football/hunting/sports than you do about me.  You need to spend some time with me right now!
  • I feel like we are just roommates.  You don’t love me at all.  Why don’t you ever just cuddle with me and talk with me?

The wife just thinks she is “sharing her heart” and saying what she needs.

She thinks she is being totally reasonable  – because any woman would feel the same way she does in her situation.  She fully expects him to drop whatever he is doing RIGHT THEN and come lavish attention and affection on her.  In all likelihood, she probably believes that her husband has the same emotional need to verbally connect that she does.  If we assume our husbands think just like we do – we can get ourselves into HUGE trouble because it is VERY EASY to assume that our husbands have evil motives toward us based on their behavior and our assumptions that our husbands’ motives must be the same as our motives would be if we were behaving the way they are behaving.  I hope you were able to follow me on that last sentence!

ASSUMING THE WORST OR THE BEST?

Unfortunately, our assuming the worst about our husbands does not promote a healthy marriage.  It brings out the worst in our husbands  – and in ourselves – when we make these kinds of assumptions.  

We end up sabotaging ourselves and preventing ourselves from getting the very emotional intimacy we really long for!

If we can take the time to realize that our husbands and men in general often have VERY different ways of thinking, feeling and processing life than we do – that their masculine perspectives are totally different from our feminine perspectives – we can offer grace, understanding and empathy assuming the BEST about our men instead of the worst.  This is the kind of environment healthy marriages need in order to flourish.

Another issue is that in each of the examples above – the wife was approaching her husband disrespectfully.  She was either giving him a directive (telling/ordering him what to do), making a demand or unfairly assuming that her husband is being unloving.  This is NOT the way to motivate a husband to do what we want!  

Men don’t like to be controlled.  Honestly, who does?? Husbands respond to RESPECT – sincere, genuine respect that is completely free of manipulation.

I would suggest something like:

  • “Honey, I’m feeling lonely today.  Would you please hold me sometime when you have a few minutes?  Thanks!”
  • “Honey, I really miss you.”
  • “I can’t wait to get to be in your arms soon.”
  • “I’m really looking forward to have a chance to just talk and relax together soon.”

I would say this with a smile and a pleasant tone of voice.  And then – be gracious no matter how he responds.  This is a respectful way to share our feelings and needs WITHOUT pressuring our husbands, making them the bad guy or making demands.  If he feels pressured, he will not feel like he has the freedom to delight you.  He may feel like he has to wait a day or several days to be able to really give you what you say you desire.

HERE ARE SOME OF MY HUSBAND’S THOUGHTS  (I hope some other husbands will also share their thoughts on this important issue, too!)

“If a wife demands attention/affection/discussion immediately, a husband is in a terrible predicament.

  • If he immediately does what she says she wants, he and she both know that his actions are not genuine.  He feels he has no choice but NOT to do what she demanded right then.
  • If he does not do what she says she wants, she will think he is a total jerk and that he is being extremely unloving.  He knows this.  He doesn’t like it. But he MUST know that he is acting because he wants to, not because she is ordering him to do something.

He has to wait a certain amount of time so that he can act in his time, not her time.

It may be that later that week, if his wife asked respectfully and doesn’t blast him with criticism/contempt/disrespect – he will try to make some extra special time to hold and cuddle her and show her affection.  But it will only be when it is HIS idea and he knows that she knows that it is not because she is forcing or coercing him – but that he wants to give her his attention on his own.”

A FEW OF MY HUSBAND’S THOUGHTS ABOUT “EMOTIONAL CONNECTION”

Greg says that – from his perspective – when I feel emotionally disconnected from him, it is MY emotional disconnection, not his.  He says that a husband “is  feeling very connected to his wife until she says she feels disconnected, then he feels like she is saying he has failed her.”

Most men are not motivated by feeling like failures.

I know that wives don’t intend to communicate, “I feel disconnected from you, so you are a failure in my eyes.”  But, maybe that could be what our husbands HEAR?  I don’t know if this is how every husband feels.  Maybe some husbands feel this way?

Greg says, “When a wife wants emotional connection, if he thought things were fine, it is a slap in the face to him.  If he was gone on a trip or very busy with baseball or kids or work, then he can understand her feeling disconnected.  If he is unaware of her disconnection, it is like wife has a hole in her bucket, he can’t fill it fast enough.  He feels he can never do enough to satisfy her.”

“Wives need emotional connection, husbands don’t need nearly what a wife would need.  Most men have very few emotional connections outside of their wives.”

“If the family has a very hectic schedule, a husband would be fine without talking all week, and would understand that this is what we have to do to get this done.  It’s not that I don’t love her or am not connected.  My love doesn’t change because of that.”

I asked Greg, “What makes a husband feel connected or not?”

He said, “Disrespect can make a husband feel disconnected and for some men, not having sex with their wives in a certain time frame can make them feel disconnected.  But

usually, a guy is going to be connected, and will not lose his connection unless his wife disconnects from him.”

MY THOUGHTS AFTER OUR DISCUSSION:

My feeling is that as a wife, many times our “neutral status” is feeling disconnected.   We feel we have to do something actively to feel connected (talking, cuddling, affection, time together, praying together).

Greg said he believes that “A husband’s ‘neutral status’ is  feeling connected and they have to do something  actively to feel disconnected.”

WHAT AN IMPORTANT CONCEPT!

When I learned that my husband thinks of his love for me as unchanging and constant, regardless of what he says to me or our time to talk in a given week, that was a HUGE burden lifted from my shoulders.  Now, I am able to rest in his love and know that he feels connected to me, even if we don’t get to have the time together I would really like.   That helps me feel very connected to him – even when we can’t talk as much as I would like. Of course, I am also resting in my Jesus’ love that is unending and never failing, knowing that nothing can separate me from His love.

“For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn talks about this – that most Christian husbands see their love as unchanging and solid.  Many of them have no idea why their wives constantly want reassurance of something that, to them, is steady and constant.  One man said (this is my paraphrase), “my wife needing constant reassurance of my love seems as unnecessary as if she were to ask every day ‘Do we still own the house?’  Of course we still own the house!  We bought it!  And, of course I still love you, I married you!”

Men do not always express love verbally.  For a lot of men – words aren’t worth much.   But that DOES NOT mean they don’t love their wives.  They tend to show their love in action.  They often show love by going to work everyday and providing for their families. They show love by running to the pharmacy in the middle of the night when the baby wakes up sick, or by putting gas in their wife’s car, or by lifting burdens from her when she is overwhelmed.  They show love by remodeling the house, taking the family to church, taking out the trash – by the things they DO.  And when they do these things, they do them out of love, not because someone tried to force them to do them.

A NEW APPROACH

I think if we approach our husbands as if they live in this mysterious (new to us) world of masculinity that we know nothing about and that we would like to explore his world with him – and ask questions with eyes of wonder and amazement and friendly, genuine curiosity – continuing to see the best in him – our husbands will be able to eventually open up to us more and more.

I would like to see us as wives assume that if we don’t understand why our husbands are doing something, that they have good motives towards us.  Unless they have definitely proven to be evil and untrustworthy, let’s assume the best about them, instead of the worst.  Let’s assume they love us (if you have SEVERE issues in your marriage, this may not be true – but most husbands do love their wives – especially if they are still with them.)  And let’s assume that they don’t have evil motives towards us.  Let’s assume maybe we don’t understand how they think and maybe their priorities are different from ours.  But let’s not assume they are ill-willed towards us and that they are our enemies.

RELATED:

The TV Issue 

How Men Think

How Men Think – Part 2

How Men Think – Part 3

How Do Men Process Emotions?

A Husband Answers My Questions about Emotions

Another Husband Answers My Questions about Emotions

More Men’s Emotions

Signs Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected

An Interview with My Husband  (Understanding a passive husband’s mindset)

30 thoughts on “Why Your Husband May Not Immediately Do What You Want Him to Do

  1. Great post and so very true in my marriage. The other day I was driving to work feeling sad and lonely about having not connected with my husband much all week. Since I’ve been learning “the peaceful wife way” for a while, I knew not to attack my husband about it. I just grew quiet. That morning in the car I prayed and asked God to bless our marriage. Sometimes when praying I can only say a few words or I’ll burst into tears and be a mess before getting to work. :). About an hour later I got a text from him that said, “honey what’s going on, are things ok?”. I could have said ( and did think about doing this for about 30 seconds) “well if you hadn’t been watching a game or working in the garage every night this week, then maybe something wouldn’t be wrong?”.

    Thank you Holy Spirit for helping me NOT say that. Instead, I said, “I just think its been a busy week and we have not connected much.”. He said, “yes, I feel it and I don’t like it and I miss you.”. That absolutely melted my heart. Then the tears really came. He actually felt it?!! Wow, thank you Lord for blessing my heart. For some reason I love when my husband says he misses me. Then he went on to say he knows it was his fault and that he was sorry. We had cuddle time that night. 🙂

    I would have missed all this if I would have attacked him with my words. My husband and I think most men, just immediately defend. But when they don’t feel like they are being attacked I think they open up more with us and feel safe to share this heart.

    These are great truths about men. Thanks Greg for sharing.

    1. Angelique,

      WOW!
      That is quite an amazing story about your week. Many women think they will “lose power” in their marriage if they don’t constantly ask for what they want or demand what they want. But – we actually communicate more loudly to our husbands many times without words. As our men feel more and more respected, they begin to notice when we are sad – even if we don’t say anything – and they begin to care about our feelings and be more in tune to us many times. I love how you handled that situation and what you said when he texted you and I cannot fathom a more loving, wonderful response than the one you got!

      I hope you might allow me to share this anonymously later today on my PW FB page.

      BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!

  2. Wow April! My husband and I have just had a amazing moment of realization and understanding from this awesome post. Please thank Greg for sharing his perspective. It has help my husband articulate that his default or neutral mode is to feel very connected with me. The other day I said, “I really need a date with you.” He looked hurt, which baffled me (this morning he explained that he felt he had failed me.). After reading your blog this morning, I shared the content and some of Greg’s comments with him. We both had a serious lightbulb moment with each other. I have promised to rest in the fact that my husband is connected to me…no matter how I feel! Thank you so very much for sharing! Many, many blessings to you and Greg!

    1. Martha,

      I am so glad that this conversation helped you and your husband! There are so many things I have learned about my husband in the past few years that have blown my mind. I had always assumed he thought just like I did.

      What an incredible gift to be able to know what questions to ask in order to really understand my husband’s heart and motives. I wish I had known these things 19 years ago!

      Much love!

  3. Hard to read this post… since I am annoyed at my husband today for not doing something I wanted him to do. All the assumptions running through my head and the things I want to say to him… Always interesting to me how Jesus gives me a “word”… through a blog post, a devotion.

    1. Thanks, David! I kind of feel like some of these things Greg has shared with me should be mandatory in premarital counseling. It would prevent SO MANY problems if we understood where the other person was coming from.

  4. You know how we (/our culture) often thinks men are childish? Well, in this issue it seems like women are ‘childish’ (not that our feelings aren’t valid – just that we tend not to look beyond them and stay in the feelings instead of thinking about it – being mature and realising that there’s more to the story than just our feelings).

    I’m so glad men can be so solid and stable in their love when we can be all over the place at times… Imagine what would happen without them 😉 Really love how different God made male and female!

    1. Charissa,

      This is one reason why I believe God asks us to give grace to other people – because there is often another side to the story we haven’t considered.

      I love learning about the differences between men and women, too. I’m VERY thankful for the way God made men. Once they are able to explain their perspective, it all makes total sense!

      And I can’t help but think that God is always “connected” with us once we are believers in Christ. We are the ones who “disconnect” from Him! He never disconnects from us. How wonderful is that!?!

  5. Great suggestions!

    “Honey, I’m feeling lonely today. Would you please hold me sometime when you have a few minutes? Thanks!”
    “Honey, I really miss you.”
    “I can’t wait to get to be in your arms soon.”
    “I’m really looking forward to have a chance to just talk and relax together soon.”

    I can’t imagine any husband or wife who wouldn’t feel loved hearing those words from their spouse and be willing to reciprocate in kind.

  6. I have a bit different perspective. I agree that if my wife thinks we’re disconnected, then I feel l have failed her. However, connection is a two way street, especially when ‘connection’ is perceived differently by each.

    In general, women tend to interpret ‘connection’ emotionally, while men tend to interpret ‘connection’ sexually. The challenge is that most women will open up sexually when their emotional needs are met, and most men will open up emotionally when their sexual needs are met. In other words, if one would meet the need of the other first, without their need having been met beforehand, then the likelihood that the other will reciprocate increases dramatically.

    So, if I had to give advice to women who feel disconnected, it would be to give their husband the best sexual experience they can, and follow it up with asking to cuddle and chat in the afterglow (in the same respectful way April talked about in the post, and be careful not to come across like you faked the love-making to get the cuddles and conversation out of him afterwards…that won’t go over well).

    He’ll be much more apt to open up emotionally at that point (I believe it relates to hormones released during sex). That doesn’t mean he’ll be able to describe his emotions well (I’m pretty sure men can’t ever do that!), but he’ll probably try harder than ever!

    I hope this is helpful…

  7. As I was reading this post, I got a picture in my mind how as God was knelt down in the clay shaping Adam he was already thinking ahead about how he would mold and make Eve. When we are putting a puzzle together it becomes obvious that man and woman would fit together in the physical sense, sexually, but God had even bigger reasons to make us fit each other perfectly in the emotional and spiritual sense. Where men at times seem tough on exterior women are soft, so they compliment one another perfectly. When I reflect on my own marriage I realize there were times I have said, “why do you even come home if your not going to really be here with us. You obviously just don’t love us. His response was if I did not care I would not have come home, or gone to work, or bought groceries, etc. I took that all the wrong way, instead of seeing he was expressing to me that that is how he shows his love and desire to be there with us. I now can appreciate the hard work he does all day, because he does it because he loves us and wants to be the provider God has called him to be. I pray that God will show me how to express my gratitude. Is not that why God made man to worship and commune with him. How amazing that marriage and our relationship to God are mirrors of one another. I may be a late bloomer at this submission stuff, but I am learning everyday that the roses could not smell as sweet if they did not have the thorns for protection. In other words sometimes being submissive feels out of my nature, and can hurt initially, but if I trust God to guide me he will place me in the most beautiful garden of happiness in my marriage as well as in my walk in that garden with HIM. Praise Be to our Lord God Almighty!

  8. Thank you. My husband and I read “For women only” and “For men only”. Eye opening for both of us. I have read it many times in fact. I need reminding at times.

    You are writing for women to understand their husbands but I am not sure that taking one side of the issue is understandable. My processing of relationships is that God made men and women as two sides of one coin. The actions of one effects the other.

    Our marriage works best when we function as a team. I know that I was totally ignorant of a mans basic nature until I read books and blogs.

    I don’t want too speak for my husband but if he were posting I believe he would agree with me. Further, he would say the same about his understanding of women.

    It was a challenge for both of us to adjust but very rewarding and joyful as well. Keeps life interesting. We let go of preconceived notions, entitlement and fairytales. The reality is much better than what we imagined.

    It is perhaps one of the most difficult lesson’s that God’s places before us. Is it not reasonable to believe that men and woman need to adjust to each other? God made both men and women in his image. Our natures are exactly the way God meant them to be.

    I don’t think He intends that each gender stagnate in righteousness, but to grow together. Honestly, it bothers me that most of the time, women are expected to change and men are encouraged expect that little concomitant change on their part. It is not sustainable in my view, its human nature.

    To voice the expectation of equal change on the part of men is often called feminism, end of discussion. It would be nice to hear the message of mutuality and love in relationships. God loves men and women equally and graces us equally albeit in different ways. I have faith that He wants us to be happy with each other.

    The lives of and relationships between men and women have changed tremendously over the last 50 years. But the message of His Word is still there to guide us. It does not change.

    His ways are mysterious but are we not charged to walk on a narrow path in His way. It is challenging but we can weather the changes by walking in faith together.

    1. Maria,

      Of course women and men ought both to be growing in their faith and in the relationship. That is absolutely ideal. My husband has a blog for men: http://www.respectedhusband.wordpress.com.

      I don’t teach men or tell men what to do in obedience to scripture’s commands that women are not to have authority over men in the church. I only address women and what women can change in my blog – but that does not excuse men or mean that husbands don’t have to obey God or are not accountable to God.

      Husbands and wives generally both have plenty of room for spiritual growth and greater sanctification and maturity.

      I agree with you completely!

      But, thankfully, if even just one spouse begins to change and obey God – the power of God pours into the marriage and can work miracles many times.

      Thanks for your comments!

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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