9 Ways To Deal With An Unsupportive Husband

Working On the Marriage | | , Writer
Updated On: December 17, 2021
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So, you’ve been married a few years and you’re noticing things are changing. Your husband no longer seems to support you or do those little things to make your life any easier. And, you’re wondering to yourself if you’ve got an unsupportive husband, and if so, how do you cope with it.

If you’ve had a tough day at work, he won’t bother to do anything about dinner. If one of your parents or kids is unwell, he does the bare minimum and leaves the stress and hustle to you. Well, looks like you’ve got yourself an unsupportive spouse all right! Putting up with this distant and uninvolved behavior from the one who is supposed to be your partner for life, standing by you through thick and thin, can be extremely distressing.

It may begin to take a toll on your bond, becoming a source of chronic conflict and leaving you feeling like you’re married but single. How to live with an unsupportive husband, you may begin to wonder. It is not an easy place to be, we understand. But with a little tact, you can deal with the situation effectively. We tell you how.

5 Signs You Have An Unsupportive Husband

It’s possible your husband was different when you first got married. Maybe things changed and you just don’t seem to be a priority with him anymore. Perhaps, the pressures of professional and personal life have overshadowed his empathetic and supportive side that you so adored. Or maybe he has begun to take you for granted. Maybe you’re wondering if you ended up with a manipulative husband. The reasons for his behavior notwithstanding, here are 5 signs of an unsupportive husband to look out for to know for sure what exactly you’re dealing with:

Related Reading: Top 15 Signs Of A Selfish Husband, And Why Is He Like That

1. When the going gets tough, he’s out!

If there’s extra work around the house, he’s too tired. If there’s an errand that needs to be done, he’s too busy. If someone is ill, he refuses to really take care of anything. That last one is especially frustrating because there’s nothing worse than an unsupportive husband during illness.

Signs of an unsupportive husband - He never celebrates your success
Your husband never celebrates your successes

That’s not to say he’s not allowed to be tired or busy, but if this is happening every time, it’s definitely one of the signs of an unsupportive husband. You can no longer count on him to have your back. In fact, more than him, you can count on the certainty of him never being there for you and the family when it really counts.

2. He never celebrates your success

Imagine you got a big promotion at work and you rush home to tell your husband. Instead of being happy for you, he shrugs it off or even tells you it’s not that big a deal. Your happiness wears off and you spend the evening on your own, eating junk food and thinking, “God, I hate my unsupportive husband.”

When your husband stops being your source of strength and beacon of encouragement, it amounts to emotional abandonment in a relationship. If he won’t share in your triumphs and defeats.

3. When you need to vent, he’s never there

Let’s face it. One of the main reasons we get married or get into relationships is so we have a more permanent venting person. But your husband just isn’t there. You’ve had a bad day and you really want to let it all out, but your emotionally unsupportive husband is playing games on his phone. Not even a courtesy ‘hmm’ sound to pretend he is listening.

Or say you’re going through a tough phase, physically or emotionally, but he just isn’t there to offer you the solace you need to get through. Amanda realized she was dealing with an unsupportive husband postpartum when he refused to help with the baby and made her feel awful about feeling low and morose even as she was fighting the blues that follow post-childbirth.

“He made it seem like my mood swings were my fault. As if, I was somehow wrecking the happiness and peace at home by acting up,” she recalls. It was a truly trying time that tested the strength of our marriage.

Related Reading: What To Do When Your Husband Belittles You

4. He always leaves you hanging

There’s a family function or dinner with your colleagues, and he doesn’t confirm until the last minute. Then also, he doesn’t always show up. In an equal partnership, or in any relationship, it’s basic courtesy to let someone know if you’re coming, or if you’re delayed. If this isn’t the case, you definitely have an unsupportive spouse.

His actions may leave you feeling like the things that matter to you don’t count. The power balance in the marriage will invariably be tipped in his favor if he is unsupportive and unapologetic about it.

5. He does not reciprocate

Be it physical intimacy, affection, or shared chores, your husband simply doesn’t reciprocate. Most days, it feels as though you’re shouldering the marriage all by yourself. You initiate conversations, intimacy and make vague weekend plans, hoping he’ll be excited. But he’s not. And you start wondering whether your husband doesn’t want you.

But he is oblivious to your dark mood. He’s just finishing work, then watching sports and barely talking to you or the kids. Yup, here’s another instance where you get to grind your teeth and mutter, “I hate my unsupportive husband!”

How To Deal With An Unsupportive Husband

All right, so you’ve argued, fought, shed tears and gritted your teeth over your unsupportive husband. Now what? Do you walk out? Do you stay and make it work? Do you just keep eating giant bags of chips in a corner and grumbling? How to live with an unsupportive husband without it taking a toll on your mental health? Is his unsupportive nature reason enough to end a marriage?

Questions such as these can weigh on your mind all the time, like dark clouds hovering on the horizon, signaling impending doom. Never fear, we’ve got your back. We’re not saying these tips will turn your unsupportive spouse into those men in Nicholas Sparks books, but hopefully, they’ll help you understand your husband, and cope better with the situation. Here are 9 ways to deal with an unsupportive husband.

1. Have a conversation with your unsupportive husband

Gina and Mark had been married 3 years and Gina was 5 months pregnant. Her problem with Mark could be summed up in one sentence: Planned pregnancy but now unsupportive husband. In other words, Mark wanted kids, was so excited when she got pregnant, but now had turned into a completely unsupportive husband during pregnancy.

This attitude continued well after childbirth too. Gina was dealing with an unsupportive husband postpartum and the exhaustion of it all began to take its toll on her. She grew so frustrated that she considered raising the child alone and becoming a successful, single mother.

She was too angry and tired to have any conversation with Mark, so she switched off completely. But as it turned out, when she did finally try and communicate, it turned out Mark had no idea what to do to support her and was terrified of doing the wrong thing. Yes, he should have taken on the labor of finding out, reading up, etc., but Gina’s furious silence only pushed him away further.

If you’ve been giving your emotionally unsupportive husband the silent treatment, don’t. Sit down and ask him if anything’s bothering him. Then, try and communicate your unhappiness and what you need from him. Don’t turn it into a blame game, be fair and try and be gentle.

2. Gather your support system

It’s true that we cannot get all the support we need from a single person, even if they are our soulmates. Make sure you have a group of friends and family to turn to whenever you feel let down by your unsupportive spouse. This becomes even more important if you’re dealing with an unsupportive husband during illness when you need both emotional and logistic support to carry you through.

That doesn’t mean you let them off the hook, just make sure you’re not dumping all your emotional needs on them and then getting angry when they are unable to give you what you need. There are some kinds of support only your girlfriends can truly give you over several glasses of wine.

So, instead of pouting at your husband, shimmy into your favorite dress and meet the girls. (Bonus: You get to complain about your unsupportive husband, too!) It can be cathartic to finally be able to vent to people who actually care about what you’re going through, and feel heard and supported.

Related Reading: 6 Couples’ Experiences On How Talk Therapy Helped Their Relationships

3. Get professional help

Matt and Bill had been married only a few months when Bill broke his ankle on a hike. Bedridden and unable to do anything much, he hoped that Matt would rise to the occasion and take care of him. Unfortunately, Matt could barely do the bare minimum of chores and did very little for Bill. Worse, he didn’t seem to think he needed to do anything more.

Things grew worse, with Bill accusing Matt of not caring about him, and Matt saying Bill was being a baby. Finally, with their brand-new marriage hanging by a thread, they decided to seek professional help. An unsupportive husband during illness is the worst. But in Matt and Bill’s case, therapy was useful.

How to cope with an unsupportive husband - get help
Don’t shy away from getting professional help

Bill admitted that he’s used to being cosseted even if he has a cold, while Matt had grown up with a single mother and was used to taking care of himself but no one else. Professional help gives you a safe space to air out your grievances and communicate better. And heading to a therapist’s office is (mostly) less painful than heading to a divorce lawyer.

4. Give him space when he needs it

If your spouse is used to a certain amount of physical and emotional space, it’s possible marriage and all its expectations have him a little spooked and defensive. Space in a relationship is important, especially if you’re sharing a home.

Ask yourself if you’re crowding him with constant demands for support. Does he have time to process what you’re asking him to do before you swoop in with the next demand? Yes, it would be lovely if every one of all genders came into a marriage knowing exactly what is expected of them, but that rarely happens.

Allow him some headspace to get used to your needs and routine. Maybe he’ll turn out to not be such an unsupportive spouse after all. This can be especially helpful if you feel you’re with an unsupportive spouse during grief. Perhaps, the loss has impacted him just as deeply. People process grief differently, and you must accord him the space to work through his emotions so that he is in the headspace to offer you the support you need.

Related Reading: 21 Ways To Tell You Have A Narcissistic Husband

5. Show appreciation

We all love compliments. We love them especially when we’ve done things for our partner and they notice. If you’re wondering how to live with an unsupportive husband, this might just be the answer to get him to contribute more to the marriage.

If your husband has managed to make your coffee just right for once, tell him so. If he was at the deli and remembers your favorite sandwich, thank him with a big kiss. When he remembers your great-aunt’s name and birthday, tell him he’s the best.

Listen, we don’t need to bake our husbands cookies for the bare minimum of support, but appreciation and encouragement go a long way towards making them want to do it again. Be mindful of their small gestures of support, and make them feel loved.

6. Include him in your decisions

Mary and John had two children. While John wasn’t an unsupportive husband during pregnancy, Mary felt that he was slipping up once the kids got a little older. Another example of planned pregnancy but now unsupportive husband. Well, as it turned out, Mary made all the decisions with regards to the kids – their names, their clothes, their play dates – leaving John feeling as though he had no real role in their upbringing.

He withdrew, convinced he didn’t have to do much or offer support. Once Mary understood this (communication in a relationship works wonders!), things improved. It’s important that both partners feel heard and needed in a relationship. If you’re asking for support, it’s only fair that your spouse is included in the major decisions you make.

You needn’t ask him if you should wear the red dress or the green shoes for an evening out, but if it’s to do with the kids or the house or the routine, he deserves to be in on it. Making him a part of every aspect of your married life, no matter how big or small, can be the key to dealing with an unsupportive husband effectively and turn things around for the better.

Related Reading: Love After Marriage: 9 Ways It Is Different From Love Before Marriage

7. Understand what you need vs what you want

Imagine you’re standing at your favorite coffee shop. You’re hungry and you want a giant cupcake with 60% cream cheese icing. But what you need to feel full is a proper meal – a sandwich or a fruit cup. Now apply the same logic to your unsupportive husband. You want him to wait on you hand and foot, be a gourmet chef and remember the names of all 7 of your second cousins.

But you need him to remember to pick up the kids from school on Tuesday, give you a foot massage when you’ve had a hard day and show up to your mom’s birthday dinner on time. Don’t get mad at him for not being a fantasy Harlequin romance man who fulfills your every wish and reads your mind.

If he’s giving you the support you need, if he’s loving and nurturing you in the ways that are integral to a relationship, maybe that’s okay for now. He can keep working on those gourmet chef skills, though!

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8. Admit to your flaws

Yes, dealing with an unsupportive husband can feel a lot like emotional abandonment in a marriage. But remember, it takes two to tango. To understand how best to deal with this situation, you need to look inward. We hate to break it to you, but you’re not perfect.

And it helps every once in a while, to take a long, hard look at yourself and see if anything you’re doing is triggering your unsupportive husband’s behavior. Are you constantly accusing him of not doing enough? Do you raise your voice at all times when he falls short? Do you say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when you ask him to do things, or when something gets done? (Yes, manners matter even when you’re married.)

Admit to your own flaws and see where you can work together and support each other. Don’t make it a power struggle in a relationship. After all, support and love are two-way streets.

9. Understand his love language

It’s possible that for you, support means lots of cuddles and constant words of encouragement. While for your husband, it means noticing when your favorite tea is almost over and replacing it. Or fixing the angle of your computer screen so you’re not hunched over. Perhaps, you feel you’re dealing with an unsupportive husband during illness because he didn’t text to check in on you.

But his way of expressing his concern and support could be bringing you hot soup in bed or making sure you’ve taken your meds. Everyone has their own ways of showing support, and if your husband’s love language is different, don’t write him off as an emotionally unsupportive husband. Take a little time, understand his ways of showing support, and maybe that’s all you’ll need to do.

Mutual support is one of the pillars of marriage, and it’s never a bad idea to ask for some. But it’s important to introspect and be kind before having a meltdown all over your emotionally unsupportive husband. So, go ahead. Play nice, get help if needed and be clear about what you need. The support will come.

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