Why Doesn’t My Husband Address Problems Directly?

Address problems Passive husbands - Pixabay man-1485335_1280Please Note: The following article may not address the frustrations you feel, but it explains some of the feelings your husband may have. We wish we could give your husband the ability to know what YOU’RE feeling and what’s motivating your words and actions. But this article may at least help you better understand HIS reasonings a little better when you try to address problems directly. Here’s what David Hawkins wrote on this issue:

Randy storms out of the kitchen and hides himself in the newspaper. Why? Why won’t he stand before Carla and address the problem directly, searching for a solution that can be beneficial to both of them? This would give both of them space to be individuals and yet live in wonderful harmony with each other. But that did not happen. Instead, more bricks were stacked on the wall between them, leaving each to suffer in isolation.

I suspect Randy felt a number of emotions:

•  He felt threatened.

His wife was not happy with his performance around the house even though he saw himself as a diligent, hard-working man. She poked at his ego, and he used his well-rehearsed tactic of withdrawal to cope with threats.

•  He felt angry.

He felt that his wife’s requests were unreasonable. Also, he really didn’t think the problem was that serious. Of course, this is denial on his part. That’s because the problem remains, and tomorrow is not likely to be any different.

•  He felt confused.

What was the big deal? In denial, he convinced himself that this was her problem. If he ignored her, maybe the problem would just go away. But in his heart, he wondered if he needed to be more assertive and face her with his concerns.

•  He felt uncertain and afraid.

What if she persisted with her demands? Would he be forced to change? What would he be required to change? He was content with his routines. And he was not particularly interested in new challenges, especially on the home front.

•  He felt sad and rejected.

Sitting alone in the living room was not his idea of a fun evening. He wanted true contact and intimacy with his wife, and this was no way to get it. He knew that he would most likely be stubborn and wait for her to make the first overture to him. They were in for a cold, silent evening.

Many struggles will drain a couples’ energy. Round-robin fights appear to be so simple but go on and on. Conversations that start out clear end up muddy. “What was it we were fighting about?” so many couples ask once the smoke has finally cleared.

Keeping focused in the midst of such turmoil is hard. Discussing issues in a productive way requires serious effort. Encounters sometimes degenerate into power struggles that culminate in hurt feelings. There was also the loss of intimacy. How can we create real change?

The Journey to Address  Problems Directly

As you begin this journey, the trail ahead may appear perilous. The path is unfamiliar. Trust that you will find the truth and it will make you free. Trust that God will provide wisdom for the journey ahead. Solomon confirms that “if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD.” (Proverbs 2:4) If you look and listen, you will find the right books. You will find the right friends, and the right teachers to help you take one important step at a time.

Paths are never straight and easy. Life has many starts, stops, twists, and turns. Plan on them. As you begin to acknowledge the truth abut your marriage and about how you and your partner relate to each other, you may fumble about with new behaviors. You may try to be assertive only to slip back into passivity. You may try to confront irresponsible behavior only to revert to snide comment and passive-aggressive tactics. Keep in mind that you are not traversing a smooth and easy trail.

As you learn to listen more carefully to yourself and to God, and as you let go of the lies that hinder you, the best path will emerge before you. You take one step at a time, one moment at a time.

This article comes from the book, Men Just Don’t Get it—But They Can! It’s written by David Hawkins, published by Harvest House. Unfortunately, it’s no longer being published. So to read it, you will have to find it through a used book source. Dr Hawkins is a licensed clinical psychologist.


To help you further, Lori Byerly, in an article posted on her web site, The Generous Wife, answers the question, “What if my husband won’t lead?” Below are a few of the points she makes, that you might consider in your marriage, if this is a problem. She states that some husbands have a:

“Fear of Judgement

“Realize that a number of guys won’t lead. That’s because they’ve been punished for the choices they’ve made in the past. Why would they lead when they are just going to get grief for it? This means that you are going to have to talk about your respect for him. Talk about what a leader is really all about and give him room to try.

“It’s also important to understand that having a different opinion, as a wife, does not mean that you are judging your husband as bad, wrong or stupid. Different perspectives are a consequence of being different people. It can actually be a strength because you are bringing up more options to explore. This can happen in a climate of respect and be good for all. (Some people mistakenly believe that it’s disrespectful for a wife to speak up. It’s disrespectful to ask for something different, suggest another option or to point out a problem. This attitude leads to the wife ‘not having a voice.’ Not good.)”

Also, some husbands hold a:

“Fear of Failure:

“The other thing that can stall out your guy is a fear of failure. Failure hurts, but unfortunately it’s a part of life. We’re not ever going to get away from it, so we might as well learn from it. And we should give each other a bit of grace.

“This is likely to be another thing that you just have to bring up in conversation. Let your husband know that you want to create a home where failure gets you a hug, a prayer, an encouragement and a sounding board, if you need one. Here’s something I have to remind myself of now and then. If you are unreasonably hard on yourself, your husband might fear that you will be as hard on him when he fails. Offer grace to yourself as well.”

And then “after all this, he still won’t lead?” Lori continues with her advice in the article, Some Hard Questions (Part 3).

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17 responses to “Why Doesn’t My Husband Address Problems Directly?

  1. (UNITED STATES)  My husband is like this. He will not face a problem directly, whether it’s about a financial decision or our marriage. He does not respect my opinions unless my opinions are seconded by a friend or coworker. Just for an example; We were deciding on an internet provider. I said we should go with CLEAR over Comcast because it is cheaper but just as reliable. He said he needs to think about it. The next day after work he came home and said he decided on clear because a coworker told him it is cheap and reliable. The same thing I said. But his coworkers opinion is what swayed him, mine had no bearing.

    Another example; My husband is much more strict towards the kids than I am. I do not mind the rules, but his deliverance of discipline. He has cursed at them and said things such as “do you need a diaper” when they cry. I feel the best way to teach kids is to be firm and calm, he gets angry. He does not physically discipline them, but verbally it seems he is hurting them. When he is in a bad mood after work, the entire atmosphere of the home changes. When I mention this to him he gets angry, but when a friend or counselor brings it to attention, he attempts to change his attitude.

    Now I am not stupid by any means. My two older children are from a previous relationship, and I made good decisions financially and emotionally while on my own, but I almost feel as though he has no respect for my thoughts and opinions as though he feels I am stupid or unable to make good decisions or give him good opinions. What would you suggest?

    1. I am dealing with similar circumstances. I’m bothered by the way my husband treats our 2.5 y/o son when he’s frustrated. Our son is typically a very well-behaved child –unless he’s tired, not feeling well, wants attention or when we’ve been fighting. Sometimes he just wants to be held but my husband acts as if he’s afraid it will spoil our child (per repeated ‘advice’ from his family).

      What bothers me the most is when he says things like “that’s BAD” or “you bad kid.” I try saying in the nicest way possible “he isn’t bad.” But my husband gets upset when I say this. Toddlers understand much of what we say and that is hurtful. I try telling our son that I love him when I must discipline him. Not that I think I’m better, it’s just that I don’t like using that word. I feel like he uses the word to get a reaction out of me. It usually involves minor things like getting into the trash or playing with blinds. I feel like it’s a passive aggressive attack on me, meaning that he thinks I should be in two places at once or he works so hard and shouldn’t have to be a parent when he is home. Or, like yesterday, he probably didn’t want to go visit with my family (we were getting ready to leave).

      One of the hardest things for me to deal with is the criticism of my duties as a stay-at-home-mom. Some days he comes home and disregards everything I did and even calls me a liar. He has this attitude that he works so hard and I have it easy. He gives me no credit for all the things I teach our son. ABC’s, counting, words, etc. he says our son learns from watching TV, not me! It’s so hard to deal with, especially when it seems the only real leadership is throwing his weight around or barking orders.

      1. I’m a s.a.h.m. too. My husband says he knows my ‘job’ is hard but then he’ll pile more onto it, schedule repair men to come here when I’m home but not consult me as to the appointments he makes, will sit on his butt from the time he gets in the door but I’m going for several hours afterward, etc. It’s basic decency that’s eroded when I wash the floors and he tromps on them with muddy shoes. Common courtesy. We don’t deserve it apparently.

        People always say to leave the kids with them, then they’ll know. HAH. No they won’t know. Because the kids will be happy to finally get his attention and they don’t behave the same as with me. Also, it’s much different to get a much anticipated day with Dad than to spend days on end with Mom.

        So mine outwardly agrees I have hard job, but acts like I don’t, to be sure. He’s never said I was a good mom, never let me sleep in a weekend since last Mother’s day when I had to wake up and ask to go back to bed (that’s been about a year now almost since I slept two hours over on a Sunday), he hasn’t cooked a single meal in about 7 years… I’m a maid. Forget all else, from his eyes.

    1. (UNITED STATES)  Yes, I am. But only recently. Up until last year I had a job and he didn’t. I took his opinion and decisions into account as equal to mine.

  2. (USA) Have you considered requesting marriage classes as part of your church’s training series, if you have such a thing? It may help at least to lend you some form of support. Would your spouse see a Christian marriage counselor or go with you to speak to a minister? I hope very much that you do get the support and guidance you both need. He needs it to learn how to address issues because they are not going to stop any time soon. You need it so that you are not left to fend for the big situations that will inevitably come your way in future years.

    My husband mentioned something when we were dating and it should have sent up a glaring red flag. He said that since his first wife divorced him he had to view his then 8-year old son as having grown up and left the home since he wouldn’t be with him anymore. I remember wondering how he could accept not making the effort to stay in touch so easily.

    Well, after decades of being married to this otherwise very nice church leader, I have come to realize that he is very detached from intimate relationships. He brings me candy and flowers and does all the right things financially. When our children needed guidance and advice, he very casually would walk away and later say things like, “Well, you’re better at that stuff,” or even worse, he would be completely silent with no change of expression. It has not helped that I have told him how lonely I am when left to deal with heavy-duty parenting problems.

    One time he “kindly” suggested I see if one of my friends was available to talk. There is absolutely no evidence of caring. A Christian counselor mentioned that unless God changes him, he is too old to change at this point. My husband gladly accepted that as an excuse. His own mother once said that she preferred not to ask relatives any personal questions because then she would not have to worry about their situations. Sadly, our children, although they love him, realized years back that he doesn’t care to get involved in their lives.

    My resentment is affecting my health. So, I continue to reach out to the couple of mature, long-time Christian friends. For your sake and that of your family, seek Christian guidance instead of avoiding the issue. And… never stop praying about it. God may not change your husband but He can certainly change how the hurt affects you.

    1. My husband is also very detached from intimate relationships. We have grown children that he talks to very infrequently and has hurt them deeply during their childhood years. They never got over the feelings of being ignored by their father, and felt that everything in their father’s life was more important than they were.

      He has said many times that he prefers not to deal with any issues or problems and that his way is to act like nothing is wrong and it will go away. This is not only not an adult way to deal with problems, it’s also not healthy, for him or for us.

      He doesn’t have close relationships with ANY one, family or outsiders, and his only “good” relationships are with co-workers who don’t know anything about him except professionally. He’s excellent at his job and what he does, but he cannot or will not, put the same effort into his home life.

      He doesn’t want ANY one to point out anything he does wrong, he just wants to skip through life with blinders on and not be bothered by any emotional needs or wants the rest of us have. As long as he gets to do what he wants, he’s fine. If any of us try to hamper his wishes, he cuts us off.

      Yes, he’s an excellent provider and spending money is easy for him. He’d rather do that than get involved emotionally. Money is great, trips are great, gifts are great, but they are not everything. We would rather have his time and his emotional participation any day.

      I’m trying to get through this with prayer and study and hoping that God will plant the seeds in his heart. But I know we all have free will and God isn’t going to MAKE him participate…so either he’s going to get on board with us, or it’s time for us to leave him to his own desires and make our own lives what we need.

      I pray for all of you writing into this site. We all need God’s love and patience, and guidance and strength. Each of us has to do what we feel is right and what we can or cannot live with.

      1. I have the same problem. I am a member of the LDS faith. My husband is not and refuses to be. He doesn’t support me or the family as his own selfish desires always come first. He thinks that just because he goes to work, he shouldn’t have to get involved in family stuff. I have 4 kids, and the thing is that I work also! We both have stressful jobs as RNs in the hospital setting. We both work rostered shifts, which varies from day-to-day, so I need to be very organized. We function and live by our family calendar.

        We designate Monday evenings as family night, where we do things as a family, activities, discussions, planning for the following week and talking about our daily lives. My husband refuses to attend this. He is always miserable and angry. I have been married to him for almost 20 years. It hasn’t gotten any easier. I run the ship alone. Our children dread him being at home. They are following in his footsteps as well with their not wanting to help the family and not contributing to the family in a positive way.

        I am so exhausted!! I am on anti depressants, which help me to keep going. I have been thinking of kicking him out of the house. He would never come back. I worry that he would not contribute to trying to make it work for the children if this happened, as he has little interest in the family. Please offer me some advice, please Anyone!!

  3. (NIGERIA) My husband case is quite annoying to me. His younger brother stays with us and over time I’ve always been the one doing all the household chores. For instance when I’m cleaning, the young chap sits around and watches me- my husband is afraid to talk to him; he’d rather do the job than engage him. Early in the morning the boy does nothing but sleep, yet my husband says nothing. I decided to keep quiet about it because of an experience I had with my husband before we got married, he shouted at me because I brought up the issue of not having in-laws staying with us. I never healed from that experience, most times I get really angry with myself for going ahead with the wedding. My husband also does not know how to stand up to his friends; one in particular just enters the road atimes and sleeps over at our place. Honestly, I’m really tired of my husbands inability to make corrections, I am really upset with him, this is seriously affecting my marriage.

  4. I’m going to speak very candidly. I’m so tired of being told to psycho-analyze my husband! I’ve spent years listening to my mother try to figure out my father, and years trying to do the same with my own husband. Yes, men and women are inherently different but sometimes men should really just act like big boys and figure some obvious stuff out on their own. If you forget your wife’s birthday and valentine’s day and mother’s day… and think continual excuses are sufficient… isn’t it kind of obvious that those special times mean something to your wife when she’s mad you forgot them?

    After she forgives you for a couple years for not thinking about her birthday until you find yourself apologizing the next day, don’t you think it’s obvious you need to start remembering? Why do men get coddled, and never held accountable? I know women are the help-mates. Does that mean men have no part in the work of a relationship?

    It seems to me, that men hurt women. Women then react. When women react to being hurt, they can sometimes get angry. Now that they’re angry, they do or say something destructive or unhelpful… like, being critical. And then, oh, the whole thing falls back on the woman because of that critical thing she said! Are men’s egos as fragile as glass? But women’s feelings mean nothing?

    Men have to stop being wimps and own up to their own mistakes, and try to remedy those. Why, if a woman’s been hurt emotionally by the man, is it now her job also to clean up the mess? Suddenly the woman has to figure out why the man hurt her. She has to figure out what she can do to manipulate him into having proper behavior. Of course, we don’t use the word manipulate, but that’s what it boils down to. Aren’t men adult enough to figure out when they screwed up? Do we really have to baby them and ALWAYS seek for our reciprocal wrongs? Maybe we, the women, didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe a man was actually self-serving and inconsiderate, and maybe he’s adult enough to know better, and maybe he deserves to be criticized!

    1. Whoever told you to psychoanalyze your husband gave you bad advice. Who would want to be analyzed by their spouse as if they were defective? I’ve yet to see the scripture that says, wive’s psychoanalyze your husbands.

      Is it that your husband isn’t doing any work in the relationship, or simply not the work you want? Could it be he doesn’t get credit for what he does? Not saying you should change your needs. Frankly, I could take or leave gifts. If my wife buys me a gift, it comes out of our bank account. So to me, gifts are no big deal.

      Am I saying they shouldn’t be a big deal to you? Not at all. I’m simply saying your husband is different. That doesn’t make him defective, or needing analysis. Annoying, sure. A wimp? Not so sure about that. What good does it do to call him names? Will he feel more loved and more motivated to do what you want? Or will he simply feel nagged and not getting credit for the things he thinks he does?

      Does he have a list of things he thinks you should do and stop being a wimp by not doing them? If he does, I suspect you wouldn’t feel loved and/or you feel you are doing things for him and he should just appreciate what you do.

      What if you are BOTH doing the things you want, but are BOTH missing the mark with respect to what speaks love to the other?

      If he feels that what he does makes no difference, then why would he even try? Should he? Of course. But then what should you be doing that you are not? Or, what are you doing that you shouldn’t be? You come across as having little respect for your husband. You say he doesn’t express love for you the way you want.

      You seem to minimize your contribution and push it off on him. I doubt you’ll ever solve the issue with that approach.

    2. Carolyn I really understand you. Our feelings are very important and if we women keep forgetting this then we stand to lose ourselves. I’ve been married for only three years. I’ve helped him to get his driving license, I’ve supported him financially and I’ve tried to suppress my feelings whenever I’ve had to, to be an ‘understanding Wife.’ And he forgot our anniversary; and actually claims that he doesn’t believe in that sort of thing. So I got no gift, no sweet words, nothing.

      What I relised after this is that, our feelings are so important, because since this day my heart has gone cold. I feel so sad and unhappy. And I can’t stand him. It was such a small thing he had to do to honour me as a woman and he straight up refused to acknowledge my feelings.

      Now I honestly don’t even want to fix it, (like I always have) or ‘psycho-analyse’ him, because I don’t see the point. Whatever I do as a woman he just takes me for granted. The more I try to understand him, the less he will try to understand. The more I try, the less he does. The more I cry, the more he can walk away.

      He’s content, he’s ok with me walking away and spending time at my friends. He’s fine with the fact that I can’t stand to be in the same room as him. So you know what? So am I. I don’t need anything from him right now. Us women always yearn for love from our husbands. And I feel like that has brought me nothing but heartache.

      So I am acting like a man. I’m reading my book. Taking care of myself and stuff. I refuse to fixate on this relationship anymore!

      1. Where is the love of Christ in all of this plan you have going on? Where is the place of loving and praying for even our “enemies?” I know you are hurt… VERY, VERY hurt. But please don’t allow your hurt to embitter you and do things that would change you emotionally and spiritually. I pray for you and also for Carolyn. May God help you to deal with your problems in the way Christ would have you.

      2. I am in the same boat. 31 years of being ignored, allowing one child to disrespect and demean me in his presence, jumped on for sex when he needed relief, treated like a servant, opinions ignored, avoidance of all issues he doesn’t want to admit, and yelled at during discussions has led me to the “I don’t care” way of life.

        I have talked to him so many times that I have lost count. He has a sequence of excuses that he uses every single time I try to talk with him. (I actually have it typed out and in numerical order. The last three times I talked with him I had it printed out and in front of him. As he went down the list, I checked them off. Didn’t phase him one bit…) It’s never his fault, or he asks me what I want him to do about the issue. I tell him. He says he can’t. End of discussion.

        Today he wished me happy anniversary. (This after ignoring it for nearly 30 years.) I told him that I had forgotten. He was hurt and upset. I can honestly say that I don’t care- not one bit. We are two people existing in the same space, sharing it with kids. I am now doing what I want, when I want. I just leave, taking my youngest if he wants to go, and we go. I don’t tell him when I’ll be back or where I am going. He never bothers to ask.

        Instead of beating myself up with trying to make him happy or get through to him, I am spending my time doing what I want. I don’t do any small talk with him. I don’t ask his opinion. I tell him what I am going to do when it comes to the house, and I do it. If he doesn’t like it, so what. I, if possible, let my middle son’s disrespect affect his day, not mine. (I put the dirty clothes or shoes he places all over the house in my husband’s drawers to mix with his clean clothes. So far, my husband just ignores or pushed my son’s items out of the way and puts on his clothes, even if they have dirt or grease on them.)

        I feel as if I have declared my independence from him. I am my own person now, and if he wants to have anything to do with me, it will have to be by my rules now. We’ve done it his way for over 30 years, and it is my turn now.

  5. A sincere confession: I do not confront anything… I am a passive aggressive male.

    Before we were married, I bowed, against my wife’s wishes, to my my mother’s and sister’s directions to have a “formal” wedding. They invited cousins, aunts, and others to the wedding. Nobody on my wife’s side were able to attend.

    We were married in a church that was not of my wife’s choosing. I chose a local church that we had no history of attending. My wife wanted to marry in the church that we attended.

    On our honeymoon, I squealed “gotta have room, give me room” in the bed may wife paid for. The item that crowded me turned out to be a pillow.

    My wife wanted to go to New York our honeymoon, and I said no. Said it was too hot there. We went to south Florida instead, where the heat was even hotter.

    During the honeymoon, my wife wanted to go to a famous water show that she attended when she was young. I did not want to wait one day for the rain to stop so we could see it.

    My wife asked me to drive her back from an outpatient surgery. I bailed at the last minute and she had to drive herself.

    My wife had another outpatient surgery and I went home to eat during the surgery. I was not there if something happened.

    She was there for me when I needed her for medical issues.

    We bought a lesser house together, while my wife found a much better home in a different neighborhood that was a better buy financially.

    I made the decision to fix the house up nice, when my wife’s idea was to just paint it and move in. Her idea would have been the most prudent.

    My wife had separate bank accounts, and I made us consolidate, against her wishes, the multiple accounts. I now have separate accounts for various monies.

    My wife wants a regular drive way (like everyone else) into our house, and I insist on a pigtail into the home. We have had the pigtail for years.

    My wife wants a cover for our cars, but I say we cannot afford (see below)

    I insist we buy a piece of property. My wife tells me how much we should pay. I pay 2 1/2 times as much. In another, I buy a piece of property that she does not want to buy. I insist and purchase anyway.

    In the above transactions, she tells me it is time for her turn to make a decision. I say yes it is, but am going to do it anyway because it is a good deal.

    Ate with my wife and daughter zero times, but ate with many family members at the table a lot of times.

    Daughter baked me my favorite cake, but did not taste it.

    Wife baked me a birthday cake, and I did not touch it.

    At a local restaurant, I was rude by making out the food was bad. Showing out that I did not want to be there.

  6. Mine is the same way. Most of the time he doesn’t want to be bothered and thinks I should just move on.