Just Ask Joyce: What To Do When Your Husband Doesn’t Value You
“My husband puts me down in front of our kids. I work full time, race to get my kids to their sporting events, come home to dinner that I’ve planned ahead, help our kids with their homework, and do my best to balance everything. The dinner is never quite right. If one of the children gets a low mark, it’s my fault. I don’t make enough money at my job and should find another one. I’m ‘putting on too much weight.’ He makes fun of me and says he’s only joking with me. He rarely makes a sporting event game because he has to work out, coming in after we have had our dinner and homework is going on. I feel defeated and angry most of the time I’m home. Neither of us would ever consider divorce after 15 years of marriage, but how can I turn our home life around?
Consideration is something you need from him if there’s to be no contemplation of trading him in.
Respect is an amazing thing. It cultivates admiration, promotes courtesy, encourages civility, and reaps love. Your scenario causes me to wonder where the respect ceased in your household. Certainly, had there been little to no respect in the beginning, you would have never agreed to marry this man. Now with children in the mix, it seems as though some luster has been lost in the marriage. Whereas it is no consolation that many wives experience what you are, your scenario is not uncommon. What you most likely know (and he will soon find out) is the disrespect he is dishing out to you will be served up to him by his children someday. If you have boys, they will either disrespect you as he does, or they will grow to resent him. You, however, have chosen to make a difference by digging in your heels and finding a solution. Here are some things I would consider initially.
1. Enough of the belittling. If you follow my columns, you’ve heard me encourage people to draw the figurative line in the sand. I’m sure your husband knows how hurtful his comments are, because he continues his behavior. I find people who participate in poor behavior never mind inflicting it as long as the recipient allows it. Outside of the hearing of your children, address this situation with him. Let him know it is no longer going to be tolerated, and if it continues there will be consequences. You will need to assess what those might be—whether it’s he leaves the home until he gets help and/or decides he will treat you with respect, or he sleeps on the couch until further notice. I realize I don’t know the demeanor of your husband and how your new voice will resonate with him. If we need to discuss this further, we will. But love yourself enough to expect respect.
- Insist on counseling. Help is definitely something that needs to take place in order to gain mutual respect and a more nurturing kind of love. I would further encourage you to spend a significant amount of time with someone working through the issues you two are having. Get him to agree to see someone—me, a pastor, someone else—but don’t let him off the hook. You need a new all-over look and a mediator to sort through it fairly.
- Assign some tasks to him. This man needs responsibility. The kids are half his and that comes with half the duties. He can either play taxi to get them to their sports games or pull some of the load with homework. His working out will have to wait until another time—perhaps once they’re in bed for the night, or at 4am so he could get back in time to help get them off to school. If that doesn’t suit him, perhaps he will want to be in charge of dinner and have it on the table when the rest of you get home. He sounds like the kind of man who will allow you to do as much as you will, so stop doing it all. Make a list of the responsibilities, and ask him which half he wants to be responsible for.
- Do this for your kids. My heart is breaking for them more than it is for the two of you. These children deserve to have their dad cheering them on at their practices and games. They deserve to hear loving exchanges between Mom and Dad. They deserve to learn how respect should look within a marriage. Unfortunately, it is left to you to reverse the cycle.
Your first step is behind you. Now, press on until the state of your marriage is more to your liking. The scales are definitely tipped, and your anger will only subside when you feel less defeated. Start winning. It’s your turn.
Struggling with a relationship issue? Write Joyce Oglesby, and find a solution for life.