A marriage relies on mutual respect and cooperation. When your husband is insensitive to your feelings, thoughts and goals, it can cause conflict and resentment. Learning how to cope with insensitive behavior by identifying patterns, uncovering the root of the problem and working to better communicate, can help you and your husband work toward improving your marriage and meeting each other’s emotional needs.
Uncover the Cause
Identify the reason behind your husband’s insensitive behavior by directly asking him why he is not more respectful of your feelings. You may find that his actions are a form of playful teasing to show affection, according to marriage and relationship coach Jack Ito in the article "An Interview with Dr. Jack Ito about Disrespectful Men."
Uncover the intent of his behavior, recommends Ito. A husband who criticizes your accomplishments, puts down your dreams and goals and makes insensitive comments possibly has resentment or built-up anger from another issue.
Make an appointment for marriage counseling so the two of you can investigate the cause of the behavior together. A professional counselor or therapist can offer advice and strategies to help you both set boundaries for how you communicate, according to psychologist and coach Dana Gionta in the PsychCentral article "10 Ways to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries."
Confront Insensitive Actions
Be assertive when your husband is acting insensitively. Don’t sweep your feelings under the rug, confront him with each comment or behavior that you deem as insensitive. Defend your feelings and communicate that his comments and insensitive actions are disrespectful and hurtful, recommends Meg Selig in a Psychology Today article titled "The Assertiveness Habit." Use direct language such as “When you dismiss my feelings, I feel unappreciated” or “I feel lonely or worthless when you speak to me in that tone.”
Establish boundaries for behavior, suggests Gionta. Ask your husband to help you compile a list of behaviors and comments that both of you find offensive to avoid hurt feelings and resentment toward each other.
Communicate calmly when voicing your objections to insensitive actions, suggests licensed psychologist Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker, in the PsychCentral article "Signs You Are Verbally Abused: Part II." Eliminate sharp or harsh tones from the discussion to prevent your husband from taking on a defensive stance.
Take a Look at Yourself
Take care of yourself emotionally and physically when you are exposed to insensitive behavior from your husband, recommends psychologist Marcia Reynolds in the Psychology Today article "How to Deal With Annoying People." Manage your personal health with controlled breathing techniques and relaxation strategies to help calm you when you are hurting. When you are more relaxed, you are better able to respond respectfully versus lashing out.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Instead, pick your battles and evaluate what insensitive actions affect you the most, recommends Reynolds. If you blow up at each and every comment, you may find yourself in a situation where you and your husband are constantly at odds. Think about how you respond to the insensitivity and evaluate whether or not you are mimicking the behavior.
Understand that you cannot alter your husband’s behavior on your own, says Hartwell-Walker. Avoid trying to change who he is, especially if he is unwilling to change his behavior. Recommend resources, such as self-help books or communication strategies to improve your marriage so the two of you can work toward harmony and mutual respect.
- Psychology Today: The Assertiveness Habit
- Jack Ito Marriage and Relationship Expert: An Interview with Dr. Jack Ito about Disrespectful Men
- PsychCentral: 10 Ways to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries
- PsychCentral: Signs You Are Verbally Abused: Part II
- Psychology Today: How to Deal With Annoying People
Shannon Philpott has been a writer since 1999. She has experience as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and online copywriter. Philpott has published articles in St. Louis metro newspapers, "Woman's World" magazine, "CollegeBound Teen" magazine and on e-commerce websites, and also teaches college journalism and English. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Southern Illinois University.