How to Get Your Husband to Treat You Better

Dirty Dishes

Warning:
This advice is based on dealing with an inconsiderate man. If your husband is purposefully mistreating you or abusive, this advice could cause him to escalate. If you feel unsafe, it is the opinion of this author that you should contact a shelter and make an exit plan.

Are you doing everything you can to be good to your man, but he is still treating you badly and you feel like he doesn’t respect you? There is a way to resolve this, but you have to stop being so nice. Many women turn up the “nice” when their husbands are behaving badly. The idea is to make a man see how great his woman is so he will treat her right or to soften him up and draw him back. Unfortunately this is backwards thinking. This does not cause a man to respect his wife. It does the opposite. If a woman is extra nice to her husband when he is treating her badly, he will be comfortable in his behavior and continue it. This is called enabling, because it encourages and supports destructive behavior. In fact, it downright rewards bad behavior. When a husband treats his wife badly, it is not only bad for his wife, but it is bad for his soul and weakens his character. Encouraging that is never a good idea.

This is not a choice between reward and punishment. This is a choice between right and wrong. When a man is behaving badly, it is appropriate to draw back, like you do when you touch something too hot, and to let him know that he has crossed a boundary and things are not healthy. Speak to him clearly and respectfully. Tell him what he did that hurt you and tell him what you want him to do to correct the problem. He may not like it. Actually he probably won’t like it, especially if you have been rewarding this kind of behavior and suddenly you are telling him to knock it off and have stopped the rewards. The good news is that it is likely to get his attention and motivate him to make a change.

Husband & Wife Washing DishesWhen a man is mistreating his wife, things are not healthy and acting like everything is all nice and pretty is like putting a table cloth over last night’s dirty dishes and setting your good china out on top of the mess. Nothing is going to set right and it’s going to smell bad, because there is a mess underneath that is not being addressed. What you need is to do the dishes before starting another meal. Cleaning up the mess requires addressing the problem and working together.

It’s not about punishment. Do not try to punish your husband. That will certainly backfire. The idea is to make him feel good about doing what is right and being expected to take care of things that are wrong. This is a reasonable expectation. It is about repentance, healing and restoration. That cannot happen when a woman is rewarding her husband for bad behavior. I see this all the time. When a man is in a position where he is no longer being a loving husband, women will go out of their way to dress nicely, smell nice, make the house nice, make a nice dinner. Nice, nice, nice, all he gets in return for his unloving behavior is a woman who is making nice. When you think of it that way, it becomes painfully obviously why it hasn’t been working, because he is happy being rewarded for drifting away or being unloving.

I spoke to a woman, Jamie*, whose husband was pursuing other women. She did everything she could to draw him back in by trying to be extra nice and extra sexy in an attempt to win him back. She finally realized that making nice was making worse. He did not stop until she stopped being nice and it was clear that nice was not coming back until it was mutual. I’m not saying to be mean.  I’m saying to stop pouring on the nice in an effort to draw him back. When a woman stops being nice to draw him back, this isn’t the same as turning mean. It is facing reality and doing something productive about the problem.

Women who take the route of rewarding bad behavior are often Christian women thinking they are respecting and submitting to their husbands in this way. It is true that the Bible tells wives to respect our husbands and to submit to them. However, scripture also teaches to speak the truth in love and to confront someone who has caused an offense. These concepts are supposed to work together to resolve issues, not brush them under the rug.

Being nice instead of facing an issue has nothing to do with respect or submission and we all need to stop acting like it does. Being nice in no way addresses the real problem. A problem cannot be solved if it is ignored. If he is behaving badly, he is the one with the problem. We are always taught to look in the mirror and not to be afraid to go first, which is correct, but once you have looked in the mirror, done your part and found that you are not the one behaving badly, the problem has to be addressed with the person who does have the problem. Going first means being willing to do the right thing, even when your husband is not. It means addressing issues with a gracious and a peaceful attitude, even when your husband is not being the husband that he ought to be.

There is no guarantee that addressing an issue will resolve it.  Your husband could choose to respond badly, when he finds he is suddenly being held accountable. But nothing is going to get better if you continue to reward him in doing what is wrong. The being nice approach is not logical and it doesn’t work. The being real approach is much more likely to get a desired response when it is combined with behaviors that build on what your husband is doing right.

By Cynthia DeWitte

*Not her real name.
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Image credit: joebelanger / 123RF Stock Photo
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5 comments for “How to Get Your Husband to Treat You Better

  1. Nicole White
    December 27, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    I would like to know what to do when your husband treats you poorly and you speak to him about the way you feel, he apologizes and briefly changes his behavior, but then goes right back to his usual. Then gets upset with you when it happens again and you are leery to trust him with his apology….he then says you are not being christian because you aren’t accepting his apology and forgiving him. Help!

  2. betty
    February 10, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    It could be a mental disorder, like manic depression or bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, alcoholism, etc. and you can try to get then into a doctor’s office, but if that is not doable, it is like they say: “You cannot reason with an insane person.” You need to leave.

  3. Tari Doty
    October 27, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    After 42 years of marriage to a man that no matter when I express that I am unhappy with how he treated me in a situation I am never more surprised than when he immediately attacks me back and it is all about him and how I supposedly treat him badly.
    Today I went out in the garage. He put a table saw next to my car a week ago and I could not get out of my car and into the house without banging my door on the saw then squeezing past and snagging my clothing to get into the house. I went out tonight after work to reorganize it and make it so I was not damaging my car or my clothes any longer. I did not pout , say a word or ask for help. He comes into the garage and asks me what I am doing. Then he proceeds to have his little temper tantrum. I do not understand why he cares or why he treats me this way. I finish moving things around and go in the house. Finally after about 15 minutes I go to the room where he is and I say “Why do you treat me like that?” And he says , You treat me the same way,
    I am stunned. What? I did not ask for help, make a scene and now I am the bad guy. Really what?
    This is a classic example of how he has treated me for over 42 years. I make more money than him, work longer hours, do most of the housework and he gets up late goes to work and shows up when he feels like it and sits in a chair and watches TV till he goes to bed.

    I hate to say it but I am to the point I do not know why I stay. He requires tons of praise. He often talks about all that he deserves. I just keep working. My children have learned from him to treat me the same way. So I pretty much have just made my own life outside of him.

    • Rach rach
      November 11, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      I can relate. My husband is almost the same way & when we argue you bet he’s in it to win it and with no apology to ever be said EVER. he throws tantrums & sometimes will throw things and now my 1.5 year son does the same. During his tantrums he yells at me which causes my son to cry and somehow that’s my fault too. I stand up for myself often but what it boils down to is it’s his way or the highway. Men like that will NEVER change because they don’t see their own faults nor will they ever. Someone once complimented my husband on having a smart wife like me & rather than warmly accepting it he just looks the other way as if he didn’t agree to it. I’m an educated person who has held my own for years! And just like you when I tell him how I feel about the way he treats me I get the same answr of “because you treat me like crap”. What gives? Only been married for 4 years

    • carol
      November 12, 2017 at 2:02 am

      in some respects I have the same. My husband is all about himself. He constantly works long hours and is not ever home when he says he will. He gets very tired but starts getting abusive verbally when I tell him he’s working hard not smart. I end up the problem. I have scant weekends off and he ruins these by his constant tantrums. He pretends its not his fault and that he is the damaged one. But I try to be nice to him, look after him. Wish the boot was on the other foot. I’m sooo at the point where I want to give up. I’m fifty two and butt ugly. I’d never get another guy. But I can’t spend the rest of my life kissing up to someone who can’t even see he is wrong, and apologize (he hardly ever apologizes for any of his bad behaviour and withholds sex regularly to emphazise that I am the problem not him).

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