Husband’s Top Resentments with Their Wives

September 25, 2013 by

Here are some thoughts we might talk about:

Long-standing frustrations develop into resentments.  Resentments are the building materials of the wall between spouses.

Under every frustration is a hurt stemming from an important need going unmet. For men the most basic needs are respect, affection and competency. When women treat men in ways that leave these needs unmet there is hurt that men can't easily put language to, and that hurt surfaces in frustration.

Men and women both have poor means of expressing frustrations with out criticism, and so what they don't know how to "talk-out" they begin to "act-out" continuing the cycle. Its only fair to note, that the ways women treat men that lead to frustration, are a reflection of their needs going unmet as well. All hurtful relationship behaviors are actually misguided attempts to get their needs met.

So... the 6 top behaviors that most frustrate men:

  1. When women stop making him the priority.  In the past the conventional woman had the following priorities: their spouse, their kids and then them self.  Now conventional women have these priorities: them self, their kids, and then their partner. Men often feel deeply hurt that their spouse allows the kids to get in the way of time together.  The same with her career, her family and friends, or her self-pursuits.
  2. Sometimes connected to #1, but perhaps additionally… When sex and affection are withheld.  Men are expected to be monogamous, but their partner isn't generous with physical touch. Intimacy must not be under-estimated. Without it we will not stay as bonded. Both partners need to be happy with the level of intimate contact or there will be resentments. Withholding affection for punishment is in this category. Some wives judge their husbands for wanting sexual connection rather than emotional connection. This frustrates men because sexual connection is a major route to emotional connection. It is often his primary love language.
  3. When treated with disrespect. When a woman uses shaming communication style leaves men feeling just that, shame.  Almost the worst feeling anyone can have, but especially men, is to be disrespected. The disrespectful behaviors are blaming, criticizing, showing contempt and put-downs. In addition “picking on” men leaves them feeling disrespected. Picked on includes comments about how they do things, how well they perform household tasks or parent, how they dress, what they eat...on and on. When a man is picked on, put down or frequently criticized he stops feeling good about him self in the company of his wife.  This is really dangerous! Long ago research found that "happily married" men shared in common feeling best about their abilities and value in the presence of their wife.
  4. When women complain frequently or show little happiness. The most primal and unconscious desire men have in relationship is to make their partner happy.  Women's complaints (her unconscious attempt to express her needs), her tears, her cold shoulder all register as, "I cant make her happy.'  Too much of this and men feel like they have failed in all attempts (granted many of them clumsy and inadequate attempts) and they grow to resent her for not being happy given her circumstances.  As a marriage professional I have long observed women withholding happiness from men in order to get wheat hey need. I have been long married as well, and I have been guilty of the same unconscious tactic.
  5. Not giving him a chance to cool down during an argument. Men stay angry about 5 times longer than women (biological issue) and need to be allowed to retreat. When women pursue and demand engagement, or make him wrong for his style of communicating, or talk circles around him; a man feels trapped, attacked and dishonored as his own unique self. Women are often more verbal than men and men feel at a disadvantage. It’s not that they don’t have some feelings and needs to share, but they need the space to come out and talk about it.
  6. When women get in the way of men parenting the children. When women declare themselves as experts and men as novices. The men grow in their resentment as they see their children develop with some gaps in their competency and independence, two attributes highly rated by men.  If they weren't allowed to set limits, direct their kids, use discipline, they will inevitably believe it would have turned out better if they had been allowed more involvement.

The Solution

Wives may want to ask their husbands if he has frustrations in any of these areas. This must be done at a time when the listener can assure herself she will not become defensive.

Targeted solutions for each frustrating behavior:

  1. Eliminate negative communication.  Ask directly for your needs, not through criticizing or blaming. Substitute “soft start-ups”, “We haven’t gone to a movie for awhile. Let’s go see something.” versus, “You never take me to the movies any more.” Eliminate picking on your spouse. Imagine how you would feel if he followed you around saying, “those pants are old get rid of them” or “you didn’t put the mustard back where it goes.” Be honest with yourself, it would drive you crazy. Tell him every week how impressed you are with him. How much you appreciate his contributions.
  2. Stop withholding sex until you feel emotionally close. Be generous with affection. Don’t want until the desire occurs; be willing when he approaches you. Stop judging his love language; it is as valid as your own.
  3. If you aren’t happy, do all you can to make yourself happier. Exercise, laugh, give affection and join in on activities. If you are happy and just don’t show it, then start showing it.  Ask for what you need directly; don’t use unhappiness to convey your needs.  It doesn’t work. Tell your spouse everything you are happy about in life…and include him on the list.  Do this regularly.
  4. Agree to give both of you amble time to cool down. Then come back together and take turns talking about your upset. With out blame and “you” statements.
  5. Allow your husband to be an equal influence on your kids. You were the only one who could have the kids, but you aren’t the only one who can parent. Ask his opinion and then listen to it. Your kids will be healthier adults because they had the best thinking and planning of both parents.