I am concerned and affected by all of the correspondence that I get from wives. But, from the standpoint of saving marriages, some of the emails that concern me the most are those that indicate that the husband has become indifferent or apathetic to the wife or to the marriage. People often assume that extreme anger, frustration, jealousy, or even hate are the emotions that are the most worrisome. But, in my experience and observation, this is not the case.
When I hear of spouses having very strong reactions to one another (even if these reactions are very negative and lead to fighting or conflict,) I found this to be more of a positive sign than indifference or apathy. Because even when negative emotions are involved, at least you know that the marriage is still bringing about strong emotions and reactions. If the spouses did not care or were not still invested, you would not see the anger, fear, or jealousy.
In my experience, indifference is an indication that a spouse has almost completely withdrawn or checked out of the marriage. This often means they are no longer listening, participating, or engaging in response to the relationship. And, in my experience, this can mean that your marriage is in big trouble and that you should immediately begin some steps to rehabilitate it before the apathy deepens and it becomes too late. In the following article, I will share some of the tips that I gave the wife about what I feel are the best ways to deal with an indifferent husband.
Ask Yourself If You Are Indifferent Also: Occasionally, I have husbands also visit my blog or contact me. Many of them share with me their view of their troubled marriages. And, many of them tell me that their wives no longer make them a priority as they once did. They tell me that her job, the kids, and her extended family and friends all seem to rank much higher than he does. So, often in their minds, you too, are indifferent. As a response, they will check out. Their reasoning for this is something along the lines of “well, she doesn’t care and put in the effort, so why should I?”
I’m not saying that these perceptions are correct or are even fair. But I did want to mention this because I want for you to know that it’s possible your husband perceives that you too have become apathetic and the attitude that you are getting from him now is a direct result of this.
Also, the culture in the marriage can become one that is stale and is sort of based on neither spouse rocking the boat or being invested all that much. Since no one wants to be the only one who is doing all the work and making all of the investments (since this can feel very vulnerable,) both people can fall into the very easy trap of just sort of coasting along. Sometimes in this scenario, both spouses perceive that the other doesn’t care, when in fact both people are acting in accordance to the culture of the marriage and as the result of incorrect assumptions that can easily be changed. In fact, sometimes both people care very much, but they don’t want to be the only one who does.
You Can’t Control His Indifference, But You Can Control Your Own Behaviors. Sometimes, You Have To Demonstrate A New Way Of Interacting: You can’t force or make your husband feel or respond in a way that he’s unwilling to embrace. You can’t control someone else’s actions unless they are a willing participant in this. Trying to do so will often only result in resentment. However, you do have complete control over yourself. And, you can change up the culture of the marriage from your side of it. You can also most definitely control your own actions. Sometimes, you have to be the one to take the lead. It can help to demonstrate the type of behavior that you yourself want. This doesn’t mean that you need to nag, accuse, or draw on negative emotions.
But, it can mean that you give your husband more of what you yourself want and hope that he will eventually catch on. Often, when he sees that you are very invested in him and willing to put more attention and effort into the relationship, he will respond in kind, (especially if he is getting a positive pay off from your actions.) People will often automatically move toward or respond positively to things that make them feel good and confident about themselves. Always remember this and act with this concept in mind. If you can show him that you’re on his side and want the same things that he does, this can make a big difference.
If His Indifference Doesn’t Change Despite Your Best Efforts, Consider Getting Help: Sometimes, a wife will do everything right. She will become invested and demonstrate the changes and efforts that she herself wants to see without the desired results. No matter what she does or how much effort she puts into this, the husband remains apathetic and unresponsive.
In these instances, it can sometimes help to be proactive as an individual outside of the marriage. Wives will often hear this and will say something like, “but this is a marital problem. Why am I the only one who has to address this?” The answer that I often have to give is “because you are the only one who is willing to do so right now and someone has to take action.”
I say this because it’s so important not to ignore indifference. In my opinion, it really can potentially mean that the person has checked out of your relationship and therefore the next step is not likely to be a good one. Unfortunately, that same person is sometimes resistant to getting help. This doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t be proactive though. You can educate yourself and you can seek help as an individual. Admittedly, you can’t change or help your husband when he doesn’t want it. But sometimes, if you can make the appropriate changes, you will eventually see gradual changes from him onto which you can build until he decides to fully become invested and committed again.