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Published on April 16, 2021

What To Do If My Wife Doesn’t Respect Me

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What To Do If My Wife Doesn’t Respect Me

As author Emerson Eggerichs wrote in his book, Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs, women want love in their relationships, and men want respect.

Although I disagree with the author and believe that the desire to be respected by your spouse is universal and transcends gender, there is something to say about how respect affects men specifically. When it occurs, men are left wondering what to do when they feel that their wife does not respect them and struggle with this on their own.

Feeling Disrespected in Marriage Affects Men Differently

For the sake of this article, we will be exploring how respect—or rather, disrespect—affects men in relationships. As mentioned above, respect affects both men and women in a marriage. However, the assertion is that it affects them in different ways. To do this, we first need to start with the definition of respect.

According to the Cambridge dictionary, respect is defined as the “admiration felt or shown for someone or something that you believe has good ideas or qualities.”[1] This would be extremely important to feel from your spouse and as mentioned earlier, both men and women would equally desire this from each other in their relationship. When men, however, feel that they are disrespected in their marriage, they react differently than women and feel rejected.

Men React to Disrespect by Feeling Rejected

Rejection is one of the biggest fears men have in relationships. Men will seek out easy sexual conquests, stay in dysfunctional relationships, keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves, and run away from relationships altogether to avoid being rejected.

Even though remaining single seems that it would minimize the risk of being rejected, a study by the University of Manchester found that remaining single only resulted in men feeling more lonely and more sensitive to rejection.[2]

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Is Your Wife Disrespecting You or Do You Have Low Self-Esteem?

Just because men react to disrespect by feeling rejected, unlike Emerson Eggerichs, it doesn’t mean that it is the responsibility of a wife to show respect to her husband. After all, respect must be earned. It is more likely that if a man feels disrespected by his wife, he lacks that respect for himself in the first place.

It is often when I am coaching men who feel they are being disrespected in their relationship that they lack their own self-respect and struggle with low self-esteem. A lack of self-respect and having low self-esteem is the quickest way to attract disrespect and rejection into your life, for we cannot expect others to respect or accept us if we cannot respect or accept ourselves.

Men with low self-esteem and lack self-respect create never-ending and unrealistic expectations in their relationships, often resulting in a dependency on their wife to validate them. This places a lot of pressure on their wife to “lift them up” or make them feel good about themselves with praise and encouragement.

Subsequently, it creates an imbalance in the marriage and ultimately leads to the wife building resentment against her husband and ultimately losing respect for him.

Low Self-Esteem Leads to an Imbalance in the Marriage, Resentment, and Disrespect

When coaching couples, we see this imbalance in the marriage when one person “chases” after the other looking for attention, validation, approval, recognition, acceptance, and respect. Although these may be valid needs in a relationship with each partner giving them freely to each other, when one person “expects” these needs to be met by their partner, it transforms the intention from a gift into a demand.

John Gottman, a leading researcher in couples relationships, describes a pattern of relating that exemplifies this chase called the Pursuer-Distancer pattern.[3] This “dance” of one moving towards and the other moving away has been identified as a leading reason for divorce. When this concept is applied to men seeking respect from their wives, one can see a similar effect.

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When men energetically “chase” after their wives for respect, this sets in motion a response of distancing on the part of the wife. It can feel “smothering” or “engulfing” when a person places this expectation upon you and the natural response is to create distance. However, instead of creating more breathing space, this can have the opposite effect and prompt the “pursuer” to “chase” even more closing the distance.

This distancing behavior by the wife is almost always experienced by men as rejection, which, as explained earlier, is one of the biggest fears that men have. The cycle is then reinforced as the man is motivated to avoid his fear and seeks to find reassurance from his wife, which in turn prompts her to distance even more.

Wives Respect Husbands Who Respect Themselves

In the book, The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire, author David Deida asserts that women despise and distrust men that are dependent upon them for their own happiness. He goes on to say that when men make their relationship the top priority, they lose the respect of the woman in their life.

If we are to learn anything from this, it is that if a man wants to gain the respect of his wife, he has to respect himself first. Men who seek out respect from their wives are only going to be met with distrust and disrespect, defeating the purpose of what they want in the first place.

This approach to gaining respect in a marriage is echoed on a grander scale in a quote by Mahatma Gandhi. He once said, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.”

7 Ways Men Can Increase Self-Respect

Now that we’ve discussed how important self-respect is for a wife to respect his husband, here are 7 ways you can increase your self-respect so your wife will respect you, too.

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1. Find Your True Purpose and Meaning

Why not begin with the loftiest goal? After all, if we are not aware of what our true purpose and meaning are in this world, how can we expect to respect ourselves and in turn have others respect us?

Finding your true purpose and meaning obviously starts with a whole lot of soul searching and ultimately may not lead us to the final answer, but asking the questions starts us on the right path.

2. Give Freely Without Strings Attached

When we give to others, it makes us feel better about ourselves, as long as we don’t have any ulterior motives. Giving with strings attached—that is, with expectations—never feels genuine for the giver or the receiver, and it diminishes the original intention.

3. Carve Out Time in Your Life for Hobbies and Activities That Help You Grow as a Person

Spending time with your partner is important to learn and grow within a relationship. However, growing as an individual is just as important as a priority. Challenging yourself to learn and experience new things adds to your own confidence and self-esteem.

4. Remove Negative People From Your Life

Trying to change for the better is hard enough as it is. Trying to change among people who are critical or negative about you making changes in your life is detrimental to evolving as a person.

Limit the amount of time you spend around people who hold you back from success.

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5. Say ‘No’ When You Mean It

One of the quickest ways to erode our self-esteem is to go along with what others tell us to do. Saying no when you don’t want to do something will result in some pushback from others, but it will not count against your own self-esteem.

6. Celebrate Your Accomplishments

People with low self-esteem and lack self-respect are often reluctant to celebrate their accomplishments. They are afraid to come across as arrogant or braggadocio. However, celebrating our accomplishments motivates us to accomplish more and to continue growing.

7. Surround Yourself With Motivating and Inspiring People

In addition to removing negative people from your life, it is equally important to surround yourself with successful, motivating, and inspiring people. Raise the bar so high and then become the person to achieve it. Do this by becoming inspired by others’ achievements.

Final Thoughts

Each couple must take responsibility for their own part in their marriage, and although every relationship expert would recommend that a couple work together to create a happy and healthy marriage, it is still the responsibility of each member in the relationship to work on themselves.

Men seeking respect from their wives have their energy focused in the wrong direction and must pivot to focus on improving their own self-respect. It is only then—when they feel confident about who they are and are clear on their direction in life—that other peoples’ opinions will cease to matter, and they will then gain the respect that they deserve from the people in their lives.

More Tips on How to Gain Respect in a Relationship

Featured photo credit: Foto Pettine via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Dr. Ray Kadkhodaian

CoFounder of Couples Synergy and the Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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