Skip to main content
Featured Image -- 15926

“Why Doesn’t My Husband Appreciate My Helpful Suggestions?”

697293_93862291

If a husband has been feeling quite disrespected, he may be particularly sensitive to a wife’s unsolicited advice and suggestions. When a husband feels truly respected, he is usually much more open to his wife ideas, but wives may want to learn how to share their suggestions at the right time and in ways that feel respectful to their particular husbands. And, if the subject is an area of his expertise, he may be less receptive to suggestions if you are not well versed in that topic.

Husbands, you are welcome to share your ideas, suggestions, insights, and masculine wisdom with us on this issue. When and how might wives share suggestions in ways that feel respectful to their husbands? (I may share your suggestions in future posts or in a future book anonymously – so, if you do share, you are giving me permission to share your ideas in the future. A reminder, I am unable to publish comments from the manosphere, per my husband’s request.)

 

** This post is probably the best fit for women who tend to be outspoken, Type A, super helpful, assertive, etc…

MEN AND WOMEN THINK SO DIFFERENTLY

Women often give suggestions and unsolicited advice to others because we believe that is the loving, helpful thing to do. We don’t usually intend to communicate that we think the other person is incompetent, we just want to share ideas so that our friends can have all the possible options and solutions available. We also often jump in to help others without being asked because we believe that is the loving thing to do. If a friend is washing the dishes and trying to calm a crying baby, many of us would say, “Hey, I’ll handle the dishes, you go take care of the baby,” and our friend would probably appreciate us stepping in to help when she was feeling overwhelmed.

Men don’t tend to give unsolicited advice or suggestions to others out of respect for them. (Gentlemen, you are welcome to expand on this for us, whether you agree or disagree.) They respect that others can handle things themselves unless they ask for help. For a man to swoop in and take over when someone didn’t ask for help would be to imply that he thinks the person is incompetent and unable to handle the situation. A man waits until someone asks him to help or until someone asks him for his expertise and advice. Then he is happy to help.

THIS ONE ISSUE CAUSES A LOT OF MISUNDERSTANDINGS

When a woman is feeling overwhelmed and juggling too many chores and responsibilities, she may expect her husband to jump in and help her without her having to ask for help. She may assume that he is unloving and uncaring if he sits and watches TV while she struggles to get everything done around the house and with the children. Meanwhile, her husband is treating her with respect, trusting that she is able to handle things herself and that if she cannot handle things, she will ask for his help.

If she doesn’t ask for help, he assumes she wants to handle everything herself and may be completely shocked when she is angry that he didn’t help her because she never asked him for help.

What Dr. Emerson Eggerichs says in “Love and Respect” is that sometimes women think they are being loving and helpful, but their husbands may interpret their motives, words, and behavior as disrespectful. And men may treat their wives respectfully, but their wives may interpret the respect as a lack of love. This is what helps us to get on the “Crazy Cycle,” where a wife’s disrespect fuels her husband’s lack of love, and his lack of love fuels his wife’s disrespect.

We can get back on the “Motivating Cycle” by wives purposely doing things that feel respectful to husbands or by husbands purposely doing things that feel loving to wives. Then a wife’s respect can motivate her husband’s love and a husband’s love can motivate his wife’s respect.

But, even if our spouse is unwilling to cooperate to get off of the “Crazy Cycle,” one spouse can seek to bless the other, regardless of the outcome just to please and honor Christ.

A HELPFUL TEST FOR WOMEN

Before saying something to your husband – giving an idea or jumping in to help – consider whether you would be appreciative or offended if the most controlling woman in your life did the same for you?

 

ie:

Your baby is totally healthy and having a great day when he suddenly starts crying. Your mother (who tends to be rather controlling) jumps in to say,

“Did you feed him this morning? You never feed him enough, you know. The poor thing is probably starving.”

  • How would you feel about this particular suggestion from this particular person at this moment?
  • Can you hear how she is undermining your ability as a mom and that she is disrespecting you as a mother?
  • Does this suggestion (criticism) make you feel loved and supported by your mom or resentful and angry?
  • Would you appreciate her allowing you to assess the situation and take care of the baby yourself before she criticizes your parenting or jumps in to make suggestions?
  • What could she have done that would have actually been helpful?

This is how husbands often feel when wives jump in and say things like, “Well, did you test the car battery to see if it is dead? I bet that is the problem.” – when the car won’t crank. Many husbands would very much appreciate us giving them time to work through a problem themselves – this feels respectful to them – unless they ask us for our suggestions, particularly if it is something that falls under their list of responsibilities in the family.

Then when they DO work through the problems, we can thank them and show our appreciation for being the hero!

Don’t we tend to do this to God, too? (Check out the comments for more on this.)

 

RELATED:

What Is Respect in Marriage? – husbands share what is respectful to them

When the Van Battery Died – how I handled that situation

From Clark Kent to Superman

But I’m Right. I Know Best.

If You Insist on Being “in Charge,” He Figures You Can Protect Yourself

27 thoughts on ““Why Doesn’t My Husband Appreciate My Helpful Suggestions?”

  1. I would say one more thing for me is that I like to learn by experimenting rather than by being told.

    I would much rather discover that my way of loading the dishwasher didn’t get the dishes clean and make an adjustment rather than be told the proper way to load a dishwasher.

    Now, this may not always work. If I’m not the one who’s unloading the dishwasher and has to deal with the dirty dishes, this model isn’t going to work. And maybe being gently instructed would be preferable to coming home to a wife who informs me with folded arms that dishes I “washed” ARE. NOT. CLEAN. and I need to make them so as soon as possible.

    But I’m not sure that always has to be the choice.

      1. Johnmcg,

        So, I wonder what a respectful wife might say in such a situation? Maybe something like, “Honey, thanks so much for doing the dishes. It’s not a big deal at all, but a few of the dishes didn’t get completely clean. Any suggestions?”

        What do you think? Or do you have an example wives might try?

        1. Sorry, I didn’t initially see this question.

          Frustratingly for my wife, I don’t think there is a real good way right now. The initial patterns of communication have poisoned the well such that I see rage and anger behind even sweetly worded “suggestions” (and pressure to respond positively to the sweetly worded suggestions, lest the rhetorical knives come out). I pray that things can get better.

          Your phrasing sounds good, and I want to get to a place where that would be effective. I would definitely outwardly respond positively to it. I can’t promise it wouldn’t be a bit stung by it. But that’s part of life…

          1. Johnmcg,

            I think it can take time when a wife is beginning to change for a husband to be receptive and to feel safe. This is why, for me, I stayed quiet for a few months and didn’t interject my opinion and let Greg make his own decisions for awhile.

            I think husbands who have felt disrespected for a long time develop a sort of “sunburn” and can be extra sensitive to a wife’s suggestions or constructive criticisms for awhile. It can take some time for him to heal.

            If you have suggestions of how a wife might approach this respectfully as she is beginning to change, we would love to hear it.

          2. Oh! One thing I also did, you can share how you might feel about this… I would lay an issue in my husband’s lap, something I wanted or a decision that needed to be made, very casually as I walked through the room. Then I would not bring it up again. At all. That way he didn’t feel pressured by me anymore.

    1. My husband loaded the dishwasher several times with the bowls on the top curving upward instead of downward. Of course the water couldn’t spray on them in that position, and I felt okay about showing him how to turn them around. I didn’t make a big deal about it, and he was fine. He may never have noticed otherwise, since he rarely unloads the dishes. I think the important thing is for any suggestions to be given, as you said, gently and with love–whether they are coming from the husband or the wife.

      1. Elizabeth,

        Thank you so much for sharing this example! For some reason the dishwasher causes a LOT of conflict! My husband has joked with me that I should help him write a post on this topic on his blog. 🙂

        Much love!

  2. You must have asked Greg before you published this one. Your analogies perfectly illustrate how a man feels in certain circumstances.

    I feel this way mostly when it comes to areas where I am the ‘expert.’ Cars, house repairs, landscaping, technology, etc etc. If I am doing a chore or project that typically my wife might be the ‘expert’ in, I am much more likely to not take it disrespectfully. Did I just define “ego”? lol.

    1. AnonyMan,

      I have read about this topic extensively and written a number of posts as well as talking with Greg and hearing feedback from dozens of men. That is the only reason I understand anything about this issue from a man’s perspective. 🙂 And I still have much to learn.

      I think your point is so important, if it is something a husband is an “expert” on, he would feel more disrespected. A wife shared a story one time where her professional boxer husband was picking out protein powder at a health store and the wife made suggestions arbitrarily about what he should try. He did not appreciate that! And it was in front of a cashier who was a man. She didn’t intend to insult him, but he definitely felt disrespected.

      Thank you so much for your wisdom and insights!

      1. Ladies,

        As a pharmacist, I don’t attempt to tell my husband what he should do as he cleans up hazardous waste sites as an environmental engineer. I know nothing about his job. And he doesn’t tell me what medicine to take or how to be a pharmacist. We respect where the other person has greater knowledge or training – where they are more “experts” than we are.

        I don’t know much about computers, fixing things around the house, cars, yard stuff, machines, plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, etc… I stay out of Greg’s way on those issues, unless I see something very blatant that I know he would appreciate me mentioning. And then I try to mention it very humbly and respectfully – and only if truly necessary.

        Don’t we do this to God, too? Question Him or offer our suggestions and wisdom for subjects and issues a out which we know almost nothing and He is the ultimate Expert?

        Something to think about!

  3. This is weird! After I wrote the example of the car battery dying, my husband’s truck battery died this morning. The battery he bought 2 weeks ago!!?! So frustrating for him, I am sure. I let him totally handle it. But I am available if he asks me for anything.

    1. I was TOTALLY wondering that just now! LOL! I’d read the example and then saw a post on a car battery dying, and I was like, “Wait a minute, which happened first?” That is CRAZY! 😮

  4. From Jenn:

    I struggle with this same thing. April did a really good job of explaining it. In fact, most of the time, when I make a suggestion to my husband, I know there’s a 90% chance that he either already did what I’m suggesting or already thought to do it and will (just maybe not necessarily in my timing).

    I just say it anyway, I guess because that’s how I’m programmed. I need to be more mindful of how this appears to my husband, however.

    I also need to set him up for success by clarifying when there IS something he misses (regarding how I’d like him to relate to me or what I really mean when I say something… I have tried this before and when I clarify first, it goes MUCH better than when I expect him to read my mind). I don’t remember what it was regarding, but recently I told him, “Before I answer you, I just want you to know that I honestly DON’T mind which you choose. I won’t be upset or mad at you… I have no preference whatsoever.” This enabled him to confidently tell me what he wanted to do, rather than wonder if there was a hidden “answer” I was waiting for. 😛 I am appalled at how programmed he is to go out of his way and ignore his thoughts because he’s worried I’ll be upset/grumpy. Of course, I don’t want him to walk all over me, but I’m not afraid of that happening at all because he’s such a thoughtful man. I would love for him to start expressing himself more. I know he has a lot more wisdom and logic than I do in many areas. 😛

    My husband is EXTREMELY patient with me and very communicative, even when I probably don’t even deserve an explanation. I find this very helpful, because he allows me to see it from his perspective. Of course, I still don’t understand everything he does, but I know for a fact that he’s talked to me before about how it sounds when I offer a “suggestion”. Even when I offer suggestions for things he knows are difficult for him feel like an insult, because he’s gone his whole life having things like his grammar corrected (he married a grammar queen, and unfortunately, it took me a while before I learned that one), and when I do it, to him it’s saying, “You have little value because you can’t spell properly,” or “I’m better than you are because this is so simple, yet you can’t grasp it.” However, that wasn’t my intention at all. I honestly thought he could learn proper grammar if I began correcting it. He basically said, “No matter how many times you try and explain it to me, I can’t… so just don’t.” He then used the example of the computer for me (which he is amazingly good at, whereas I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, especially if it happens to do with hooking up cords and such). He said, “How would you feel if you went your whole life with people trying to “help” you with computers, but you just couldn’t get it? How would you feel if they corrected you every single time you call the monitor a modem, but you still couldn’t remember which was which? Would you feel encouraged or discouraged?” I then realized what he meant… and I vowed to do a better job of not correcting his grammar (or other peoples’).

  5. oh my goodness! This was so very helful for me and spot-on! So many times i will be doing the dishes, laundry and tidying up at the same time running around the house and get so frusterated when my husband just sits there! & then when i ask him why he didnt help he will say things like “I was just letting you do your thing and waiting for you to come watch tv with me?” I never understood this, it is not MY thing it is ours! But then i realized that is just how he is wired. everytime i ask for help he does gladly help me! But if i am choosing to do it he will just let me, and sometimes i like to do it on my own because it gets done faster so i am thankful for that 😉

    Also – my husband has had QUITE a lot on his plate lately at work and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be getting any easier on him… So i have been taking it upon myself to “help him” with certain decisions… He has been taking it all very negatively and even asked me yesterday to “stop helping him” this made me sad and upset but i realize now how he must have felt very disrespected by my “help.” !! :,(

    i am glad i read this and it helped a lot!! I pray i can find new ways to tell my husband what i think, or just know when is the right time to trust him and God and not worry about an issue so much myself 🙂

    Much love!

  6. WOW, this opened my eyes! I truly thought so many times I was being helpful & he seemed to resent it. So many times in yrs past I would get someone , a neighbor , or a relative to help him with whatever project he may have been struggling with. But I was undermining his authority, disrespecting him & making him feel incompetent.
    Thank you for your words of wisdom.

  7. Ok, we must be backwards… My husband used to give me suggestions ALL THE TIME until I told him that it always made me feel like a failure… For example, I could clean the kitchen and wash his thermos and he would come in and see me cleaning it and say as he takes it from me…” It is much better if you take it apart like this…. He drops something on the floor and when he picks it up he sees crumbs in the corner. “It would probably help if you would use the vacuum cleaner…”

    I’ve never given him a suggestion ever, probably because he cleans better and does everything in life better than I do. I’m not being sarcastic. My husband is very particular.

    1. Elizabeth,
      Suggestions can quickly sound like criticism. And I am sure that there are a number of couples where this would apply on both sides. Most wives wouldn’t appreciate constant suggestions about how they need to improve their housekeeping, cooking, driving, parenting, etc… either. We can learn from our husbands’ constructive criticisms. Yes. But too much criticism can deflate the soul.

      I appreciate you sharing your story! Much love to you!

  8. wow…This was an eye opener for me. All those years when my husband struggled with different health issues and I was constantly telling him what he should and should not eat or what he should do to try to help his situation. I will never forget during one of his meltdowns (after he had stonewalled me) “I am so sick of you always trying to FIX me!” Oh my goodness. I was so blind. In my defense, I was only trying to help him, but he saw it as criticism and a direct insult to his intelligence. I no longer do that, but I am going to make it a point to not make suggestions unless he asks for my opinion. This post was so very insightful. Thank you guys for telling us like it is. And thank you April for having this awesome blog for us to learn from.

    1. Learningtolean,

      When we catch a glimpse of how we come across to our men, it explains s lot, doesn’t it?? How I wish that all brides to be could learn these things BEFORE marriage!

      I am so glad this was helpful. 🙂

  9. I’ve got a touchy situation on my hands. I am a new Christian, and my husband is Jewish. He’s not especially devout but he believes in God, which is the same way I was when we married.

    He lost much of his family in the Holocaust, and he’s confronted me over the issue of whether I really believe his ancestors (and those of other Jews who perished) are all in Hell. I’ve been evading him, but that won’t work for too long. How do I answer a question like that?

    1. Gisela,

      That is a touchy situation. I think that I would want to spend a lot of time in prayer and make sure I am hearing God very closely before approaching that issue. But, God ultimately is the Judge we will all stand accountable to, not ourselves. You can share something like,

      “The Bible says that each person will stand before God’s throne of Judgement when this life is over. He will judge everyone for the way they lived and for their sins and their obedience to Him. He is a holy God. He cannot tolerate any sin in His presence. The sacrificial system of the Jews was put in effect by God to cover His people’s sins until the Perfect Sacrifice arrived – the Messiah. God will judge people based on what they knew about Him. According to Jesus, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Jesus, Himself, begged God that if there might be another way by which people could be made right with God, that He might allow Jesus not to be the Ultimate Sacrifice on the cross for our sin. But, there was no other way. If there had been, Jesus would have found it and done that. God wants us to be in right relationship with Him. He provided the Way. It is the only way according to Jesus and the Bible. I believe that the Bible is true. God doesn’t want anyone to perish, but He desires everyone to turn to Him and live with Him in heaven forever. Ultimately, God will judge those who didn’t receive Christ. He will judge them on the basis of their sin. If they did not receive the gift of Jesus’ death on their behalf and allow Him to pay for their sin in their stead, then, according to God’s Word, they will pay for their own sin by being separated from God in hell. I don’t want ANYONE to be separated from God. I want to see everyone receive Jesus and the Gift He offers to us all – abundant spiritual life here on earth, and eternal life with God in heaven forever.”

      Or, God may prompt you with exactly what He wants you to say – and it may be nothing like this at all.

      Praying for God’s wisdom, timing, and power for you, and for His Spirit to draw your husband’s heart to Himself.

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.

%d bloggers like this: