I can’t tell you how many unhappy husbands I’ve seen in my office over my years in practice. They present with all kinds of issues, from infidelity to in-law troubles and everything in between. Yet despite the variety of marriage problems that can arise, there are some complaints that are so prevalent and so shockingly similar in their language that they warrant being singled out.
Below are eight of the most common complaints that unhappy husbands make about their wives.
Read them. Believe them. Stop them.
But first, I will warn you. I have NOT sugar-coated these complaints. Rather, I have used the words and language that my clients have used to describe their wives. I’m going to tell you what they tell me. Reading this may hurt. It may make you angry. It may make you resentful, especially if your husband hasn’t exactly been Mr. Romance and you have your own list of legitimate complaints about him (which I’m sure you do!).
Just keep one thing in mind: I’m on your side. I want you to be happy. I want you to be in a stable, loving marriage with a husband who adores you more with each passing year. That’s why I’m not coddling you here – I want you to hear the words that other husbands have used about their wives, because I DO NOT EVER want your husband to say the following things about you:
- You’re a grump. When you speak to your husband, your voice tone is full of negativity, contempt and criticism. If he tries to express a concern or complaint about the marriage, you rise up in angry defensiveness and throw the blame back on him instead of hearing him out.
- You’re a nag. If your husband has a free moment, you pounce on him and order him to fix something around the house. If he goes out with friends, you text him incessantly, asking when he’ll be home. Basically, you’re a matrimonial version of the micro-managing boss.
- You’re a cold fish in bed. If he flashes you a flirtatious wink, you roll your eyes. If he reaches for you in bed, you turn your back to him. On those rare occasions you do give in and have sex, you lie there and stare at the ceiling, waiting for it to be over and sapping all the fun out of it.
- You’re a frump. Whether you’ve stopped exercising or started wearing sweatpants, you’ve let yourself go and lost your energy and enthusiasm for life. To be honest, this isn’t a top complaint that I hear from men; however, a woman who feels unattractive often withdraws, emotionally and physically, from her marriage. And that is something that husbands do complain about.
- You’re a “Mommy” — and nothing else. You get way more excited about a Mommy & Me playdate than a romantic evening with your husband. Just keep in mind that a child-centered marriage isn’t a marriage at all, it’s just a daycare. Worse, you may sometimes “mother” or parent your husband, telling him what to do or speaking to him in a voice tone that a parent would use to chastise a child.
- You’re an Alpha parent. As the leader of the parenting pack, you snap at your husband every time he tries to be a dad or parent his children in the way he sees fit. As a result, you rob your children of a father’s care and discipline, and you drive a wedge between you and your husband. He feels like a powerless outsider in his own home and family, a guy who’s only there to help pay the bills.
- You’re thankless. Whether your husband has put in major overtime at work or spent his entire long-weekend building you that backyard deck you want, you take his efforts for granted and fail to show appreciation for anything he does for you or your family.
- You’re –yawn— boring. You don’t have any interests or hobbies outside the marriage or home (and no, Facebook isn’t a hobby). That makes you predictable and bland company who never has anything interesting to add to a conversation. You should, to put it plainly, get a life.
Ouch, right? Yes, it hurts.
It also scares me, not just as a marriage author and conflict specialist, but also as a wife. There have definitely been times in my marriage that I’ve seen my own behaviour reflected in these eight complaints. There have been times I’ve listened to a male client use this kind of language or describe his wife in this way and secretly thought, “Yikes! He’s describing how I’ve been acting lately!”
Despite how nasty and disrespectful these complaints sound, they therefore provide a valuable service to those who are willing to listen and learn, instead of just getting mad. These complaints let you know – without pulling any punches – what behaviours to avoid like the plague if you want your husband to treat you like the amazing woman you are.
If you’re worried that the passion in your marriage is starting to subside, don’t panic. Instead, take a good, hard look at your own behaviour. I’m not saying you have to be Mrs. Sunshine all day every day or that you can’t ever have a bad day. What I am saying is that you have the power to bring more positivity and romance into your marriage. How can you make your husband feel more appreciated and desired? How can you build him up as a loving, competent parent? How can you make him happy?
In many cases, focusing on making our spouse happy can motivate him to make us happy. Like attracts like. Loving, appreciative behaviour attracts loving, appreciative behaviour. Positivity and enthusiasm attracts positivity and enthusiasm. Fun and affection attracts fun and affection. You get the idea, right?
Of course, it takes two to tango and your husband needs to do his part as well. If you feel that you’re the one doing all the work, it may be time to get outside professional marriage help.
I would also recommend getting professional help if you feel that the passion in your marriage is waning, or that your husband is falling out of love with you, even though you don’t exhibit any of the behaviours outlined in these eight complaints. There may be more serious issues going on.
That being said, there’s nothing stopping you from taking the lead and doing what you can to make your marriage a happier, sexier and stronger one – starting today.
• Debra Macleod, B.A., LL.B. can help you now, not weeks from now. See her Marriage SOS instant-access marriage recovery programs.