Marital satisfaction is usually measured by how loving our partner is (and how we love our partner). What happens when this love is missing? Knowing how to deal with an unloving husband (or spouse) can set the stage for either reconciliation or a continued decrease in marriage happiness.
This article is part of our Unloved Series. Below is an infographic on the 5 things to keep in mind.
Princess Diana is quoted as saying:
“Everyone of us needs to show how much we care for each other and, in the process, care for ourselves.”Princess Diana
She also said:
“If you find someone you love in life, you must hang onto it, and look after it, and if you were lucky enough to find someone who loved you, then you must protect it.”
The Beatles put in lyric:
All we need is love. Love. Love.Lyrics to All You Need Is Love by the Beatles
While that might be an overstatement (we actually need food, etc), love is the answer to most of the issues we have in life. But what happens when you are in a relationship that lacks love? How do cope? What can you do to deal with an unloving spouse?
Before we discuss how to cope with an unloving spouse (in this case a husband), let’s look at the key signs your spouse doesn’t love you well.
In This Article
- Signs Your Spouse Is Unloving
- Indicators of Marriage Satisfaction
- 5 Things To Keep In Mind When Feeling Unloved By Husband
- Final Thoughts on How To Deal With An Unloving Husband
Signs Your Spouse Is Unloving
We talk in-depth about this in another article in this series and give signs your spouse is unloving.
For now, the short answer is a person is considered unloving when all they think about is themselves.
Our philosophy of a healthy marriage is summed up in the parable of people with no elbows. The essence of a good marriage is one where both partners are more concerned with meeting their spouse’s needs than having their own needs met.
The irony is when we serve our spouse (service, not servitude), we create an atmosphere where our needs are met. Zig Ziglar is noted for saying, ‘If you help enough people get what they want in life, you will actually get what you want in life.’
It’s the principle of reciprocal living – Sowing and reaping. You get what you give. It’s a universal principle which means, this is how life works best. When you seek to benefit others you will find benefit and happiness.
Unfortunately, many couples miss this important rule. They become so focused on their own needs, wants, and desires that they forget about their spouse. When this happens, the balance of marital satisfaction is thrown off-kilter.
The Triangular Theory of Love
The Triangular Theory of Love is consisted of three components namely intimacy, passion and commitment.
Note the three components:
Each of these indicates ‘other mindedness.’ We are other minded when we focus on what matters to our partner.
Simply put, the biggest sign of an unloving spouse is one who no longer seeks to serve, please, and benefit their partner. This is a sure sign of dysfunction in a relationship. And it will always end in confusion, disaster, and decreased marriage satisfaction.The biggest sign of an unloving spouse is one who no longer seeks to serve, please, and benefit their partner. True love always seeks to make the other person better! It's simply not selfish. Click To Tweet
Indicators of Marriage Satisfaction
Our need for emotional security is well documented. Knowing your marriage is a ‘safe place’ is one of the things that make it healthy. When this is missing because your spouse is selfish and withholds love and affection, it lowers your happiness level in your relationship.
In his clinical research paper, Bradley R. Vanover, (St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas St. Paul, Minnesota) studied the top six reasons for divorce and how they relate to marriage satisfaction:
The top six reasons for divorce in their survey were each listed by at least 30 percent of the respondents. These six reasons were
- growing apart (55%),
- not able to talk to each other (53%),
- how my spouse handles money (40%),
- infidelity (37%),
- personal problems of my spouse (37%), and
- not getting enough attention (34%).
They found that not getting enough attention was the only reason for divorce that had a positive correlation to the desire for reconciliation (MSW Clinical Research Paper)
If we reverse (look at it from the flip-side, it’s easy to see that the opposite behaviors and attitudes create marriage happiness.
- Growing together (continuing to share life and move in the same direction) keeps marriage positive and healthy.
- Communication (the ability to talk to each other) builds deeper intimacy.
- Financial accountability and agreement on money issues provide trust and security in your relationship.
- Confidence in your partner’s faithfulness gives you a sense of emotional security.
- The ability to work through personal problems with your spouse keeps you from letting things build up and get out of perspective.
- Giving your spouse attention and making sure you guard your time together builds greater intimacy.
When these factors are missing (as the study proves), marital satisfaction goes down.
5 Things To Keep In Mind When Feeling Unloved By Husband
When you feel unloved by your spouse, there are a few key things to keep in mind. We list five of the most important concepts to remember.
You might also find our list of books we recommend to couples who feel they are trapped in an unloving relationship.
1) Be Open About Your Needs
Managing expectations is not always easy when you want to make your needs known to your spouse. It’s important to be open about what you want, need, and desire in your marriage.
At the same time, you must realize that you cannot force your spouse to respond the way you desire. They have to choose. This is the essence of love – a choice to give yourself to someone else.
When love is not freely given, it isn’t really loving. That’s why so many spouses who manipulate to get what they want never seem satisfied. What they want is love. What they get is a half-hearted response so you will stop nagging. This is not love. And it isn’t satisfying.
How To Let Your Spouse Know What You Need
- Tell your spouse exactly what you need.
- Be open to their response.
- Realize all you can do is share your heart
- Do not manipulate
- Be clear
- Ask them what they want in the relationship
- Do not force the issue
- Treat them like a friend, not an enemy
Greater Good Magazine (from Berkley University) encourages readers to tell the truth.
When you lie (perhaps to avoid upsetting them), you become complicit in the creation and maintenance of their reality, which is poisonous to you…But lying is very stressful for human beings, maybe the most stressful thing. Lie detectors detect not lies, but the subconscious stress and fear that lying causes. This will not make the relationship less toxic…So, instead, tell the truth.Greater Good Magazine
The important thing is talking to your spouse about your needs. Even when it feels like they aren’t engaging, it’s okay to let them know it is important to you.
2) Guard Your Emotions
Guarding your emotions is not hiding your heart. Hiding your heart is refusing to let your spouse into your world. It is pushing them out. If you do this, you close off any hope of restoring your marriage or creating the life you want. It keeps you from finding a solution to your problem and forces you into a struggle for control.
Guarding your emotions means you refuse to allow bitterness in your heart. You refuse to allow their problem to become your problem. We deal with this in more detail below.Guarding your emotions means you refuse to allow bitterness in your heart. You refuse to allow their problem to become your problem Click To Tweet
When you guard your heart in the right way, you maintain peace in your soul. You maintain a loving attitude in spite of your spouse’s failure. You continue to respect your marriage and take positive action to keep your emotions positive.
We talk about how to guard your heart properly in this article.
3) Continue to Love
When we feel unloved the temptation is to reciprocate by withholding love from our spouse.
By continuing to offer love, we keep the door of communication open. This doesn’t mean we become a willing participant in neglect. Being a doormat for another person robs you of dignity; that’s not what this is about. It is about continuing to be open to move the relationship forward.By continuing to offer love, we keep the door of communication open. This doesn't mean we become a willing participant in neglect. It is about continuing to be open to move the relationship forward. Click To Tweet
We talk about setting boundaries below. For now, it’s vital to keep offering love in a positive, healthy way.
Tips on Giving Love
- Express gratitude (find something you can appreciate)
- Give forgiveness
- Offer a bid for connection (What it means to offer a bid)
- Stay positive (refuse to enter their negative world)
- Practice empathy
Continuing in love is not only about your partner. It is about you. It is you refusing to allow someone else to destroy your emotional well-being by making you bitter, angry, and resentful. By loving your spouse, you are loving yourself. You are staying in control of your own heart.
4) Set Boundaries; Not Walls
Every situation is different, but learning how to set proper boundaries is vital to a healthy, satisfying marriage.
What is a boundary?
Primarily, a boundary is like a property line. It’s where we have a right to put up a ‘no trespassing’ sign in our life. There are physical boundaries (don’t hit me, violate me sexually, or harm my well-being), and emotional boundaries. It’s the emotional side of the equation I want to deal with. This impacts more marriages than physical abuse issues.
If you are in a relationship where there is physical abuse, get out. It should not be complicated. If they are willing to harm you physically, there is no limit to what they can and will do to you. The only safe response is to leave.
Emotional boundaries are more difficult to describe or recognize. Yet they are essential. The University of Kentucky has a great (and short) paper on boundaries. In the section on emotional boundaries they list three that are significant:
- Not knowing how to separate your feelings from your partner’s and allowing his/her mood to dictate your level of happiness or sadness (a.k.a. codependency).
- Sacrificing your plans, dreams, and goals in order to please others.
- Not taking responsibility for yourself and blaming others for your problems.
There are many negative consequences when we fail to establish healthy boundaries.
Those with boundary issues often report that their partner doesn’t listen to them, or that their needs aren’t being heard, honored or respected. When they express an opinion that triggers pushback or conflict, they back down and retreat rather than communicating their true feelings.USC School of Social Work
5) Realize It’s His Issue Not Yours (Unless It Is Yours)
We often take the blame for issues that aren’t ours.
- If I had only done this differently.
- Maybe I made him act this way.
- I shouldn’t have said this…
While asking ourselves how we contribute to the problem is healthy, it becomes harmful if we blame ourselves for our spouses’ bad behavior. Even though it affects you, it is his problem.
The rule of thumb to remember is, you are not responsible for their emotions. You can only control yours. How someone else feels (anger, resentful, etc) is a choice they make; especially if they express no interest in discussing possible solutions.
You cannot control another person’s emotional state. You can, however, influence them. But they are the only ones who control how they respond.
By realizing they’ve made a choice on how they feel and respond, you can evaluate what you can do to help them (if it is possible).
The big thought is that you can only change yourself. They have to take responsibility for how they feel and what they do. If they are unwilling to do this, there is nothing you can do to help.
You may also want to read, ‘Top 3 Keys To Turning Around An Unhappy Marriage…’
Final Thoughts on How To Deal With An Unloving Husband
Feeling unloved in your relationship is the opposite of what marriage is designed to provide. Marriage is not just about ‘getting your needs met.’ While our needs are important, marriage is about investing your life in your spouse to meet their needs.
It’s about putting your spouse above your own needs. When this happens (by both parties) everyone’s needs are met. Not by striving to get what you want, but by willingly giving your partner what they want and need.Feeling unloved in your relationship is the opposite of what marriage is designed to provide. Marriage is not just about 'getting your needs met.' While our needs are important, marriage is about investing your life in your spouse to… Click To Tweet
Unfortunately, this is not the case in every relationship. Knowing how to deal with an unloving husband (spouse) can mean the difference in an emotional breakdown or psychological stability. The goal is to remain stable so you can make wise decisions and try to move the relationship forward.
In this article, we talked introduced the signs of an unloving spouse, the leading indicators of marriage satisfaction, and five things to keep in mind when you feel unloved in your relationship.
A brief recap of the 5 things you need to know when you feel unloved:
- 1) Be Open About Your Needs
- 2) Guard Your Emotions
- 3) Continue to Love
- 4) Set Boundaries; Not Walls
- 5) Realize It’s His Issue Not Yours (Unless It Is Yours)
If you are tired of feeling stuck in an unloving marriage, check out these tools to help you recapture the marriage you’ve always wanted.
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