Two Ways to Get Closer to Your Man

Q:  What do you do when respect doesn’t work? I’ve tried “respecting” my husband so many different ways, but he doesn’t offer love back. He is the silent type and we have no communication. I am tired and lonely. Yes, I have also disrespected him in my attempt to reach him, which I know drives him further away. But I am fed up with living in an empty marriage for 12 years and doing all the emotional work while he does nothing to try to change. Can you help us?

Two Ways to Get Closer to Your Man (1)

Dr. E says:  Start by asking yourself some questions. What attracted you to your husband when you were dating? What did you enjoy doing together? Why did you marry him?

Be His Friend

Somewhere deep inside, he is that same man you fell in love with 12 years ago. Can you try to find that friend again? Ask yourself, “Does he have confidence that I am his good friend and that I like him as a person?”

Based on your question, I would say he doesn’t. That’s harsh, but are you willing to change your approach?

Men do need to connect with their wives, but they don’t connect in the same way as women.

Have you ever studied male friendship? For example, notice how guys “bond” while watching a game together. They have little to no conversation except to comment on the plays, or to shout once in a while! Yet, they enjoy this time together immensely. It energizes them.

Shoulder to Shoulder

Rarely do you see two guys sitting across from one another at a coffee shop in deep conversation, unless they are talking business. Women, however, are much more comfortable with that kind of intense, face to face interaction.They enjoy talking about issues of the heart.

So my first suggestion is to think of something your husband enjoys doing, whether it’s watching a favorite sport on TV, playing a videogame, or washing the car. Sit next to him shoulder to shoulder, or watch him do whatever it is he enjoys doing.

Don’t talk, just be with him. If he asks why, say “I just want to be with you.”

Yes, I know you have a million things to do, but let things go for an hour or so. Believe it or not, this will energize him!  It worked when you were dating, right? You likely were willing to do anything he wanted to do back then, just to be near him.

Don’t Talk So Much

Secondly, refrain from discussing your relationship for several weeks. This may sound very strange, but if he has shut down on you because he feels you are disappointed in him, or are trying to change him, you need to win back his trust.

Be interested in him and don’t talk about your needs. Greet him when he walks in the door and ask him about his day. If he doesn’t say much, don’t badger him. Be positive and upbeat, but be content with less interaction. Try this for 6 weeks and see what happens.
Many women, in their desire to connect and draw closer to their husbands, end up driving them away by using words that are demanding and critical. They actually push their husbands away because they come across disrespectfully, and no man feels fond feelings of love and affection for a woman he thinks does not like him. As a result, he spends more and more time away to have some peace.

So even though a wife is crying out for love, she is actually pushing her husband away. Her methods are counterproductive.

Try Something New

What I am asking you to do may sound unfair, but in the long run you will more than likely achieve your deepest goals. Don’t expect your husband to be a woman who desires to sit and talk each evening for a couple of hours. But as you focus on developing a friendship with him, he will want to be with you and will open up more.

Over time, if you are consistent, he will view you as his friend and when there is friendship there is communication.

Do this for a solid six weeks. He may not trust your changes at first, so be patient. Be his friend, and expect nothing in return. Yes, I know that friends do reciprocate and I know that you are tired. But this type of friendship, no expectations and little or no talking, takes very little effort.

Is your marriage worth making this effort to try something new?

Eventually, I believe he’ll move toward you. He’ll want to spend more time with you, his good friend.


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12 thoughts on “Two Ways to Get Closer to Your Man

  1. We are three months away from marriage and this is happening. Just last night he said he’s sorry he’s a failure and he has disappointed me. I have been told to be open and authentic and share my feelings w him but when I do it pushes him away. Should this be a red flag? Whats going on???

    • Are you and your fiancé going to premarital counseling? Please consider doing it if you aren’t. Maybe the stress of wedding planning has him on edge.

  2. I feel like I am struggling with a similar situation in my own marriage, and I am thankful I saw this post.

    I will say that when you say “this type f friendship takes very little effort,” this not true for someone like me. It is more effort to NOT talk and NOT try to connect. It takes a lot of self control to just be quiet.

  3. Wow, Emerson, this is so powerful. I am living in a stepfamily and so issues with my husband as the woman above describes were just like hers as well as more complicated. Praying, pondering, and more praying has led me after 16 years to be more quiet. I don’t respond to everything he says that is negative. I don’t take things personally anymore. Thinking I’m just too old for feeling like a used wet rag caused me to look inside myself and guard my heart, rather than keep trying to get his. Your words are difficult for us wives in these situations, but as you say, it doesn’t take much energy…and six weeks is not a long time. Before giving up, anything is worth a try. Another key is praying for our spouses…with God anything is possible! I have read your book “Love and Respect” and we’ve come to your events. God bless you.

  4. When I was struggling in my marriage in a similar way (we were also talking divorce, though), I cried out to Jesus. He told me to do EXACTLY what was said here. I did. And my marriage has never been better. My husband calls me his best friend and spends more time home than ever.

  5. If he feels that way, that could be because of your communication towards him. It is not good to always be open about everything you feel. It makes many guys feel like failure!
    Tell him ONLY the positive, tell God ALL the negative. Always encourage and support him. Tell him you are proud of him and that you trust him completely. And act it out…

  6. I think this advice is stupid to put it mildly. you’re asking her to become a man or a groveling beggar. it also sounds like she’s the one doing the wrong things. Hes being a jerk and most men would call him out on that, especially if she’s a good woman. I’m not saying she should do nothing but it sounds like the fault is being put on her and she needs to become something she’s not with no guarantee that its going to work.

    • Dan, nice to get some feedback from a man. So many are silent in many spheres of life. Be it be home, couple activities, and even the church. Seems challenging at time since women are taught that men are to lead, provide, cultivate, and protect. Thanks for sharing your opinion.

  7. So what would you suggest to a wife who’s husband started off in the marriage very engaged and changed somewhere along the way, when she has been doing the exact same thing you are suggesting (for many years) and has not gotten any response from her husband at all? The wife does whatever activities that her husband enjoys but the husband won’t do the things the wife suggests even if it’s just going to the store together to go grocery shopping. Whenever there might be time to have any kind of conversation the husband finds something else to do, when he does feel like talking to someone he calls up or visits one of his friends or his family leaving his wife to sit by herself (if she does try to participate in any of the conversation she is quickly cut out and talked over top of. This husband was NOT like this the first half the relationship or the wife would not have married him (nobody get married so that the can feel isolated and alone). When there is very very little (almost none, and a lot of that is from overhearing conversation, or maybe the husband might hold her hand in the car if nobody is looking) emotional connection or engagement anymore, no real attempt to meet the wife’s needs (even though it has been clearly stated that the wife merely wants to feel emotionally connected again and she has asked for nothing else). What if the wife tried this plan not just for six weeks but for three years and it still hasn’t changed anything? And don’t try to tell me the wife isn’t doing it the way you explained it because she has been, she even gave up the things she likes to please her husband, to do more of his things, give him more free time, to free up finances for his hobbies, etc. And all she gets is more and more lonely and isolated as time goes on.

  8. HELP!!!!! What happenes when he tells you he’s not in love with you due to all the fighting and arguing. I’ve been doing the love and respect challenge but he says it will not work for him since there is no love. Emerson can this work?

    • Marne, I am with you as I’ve been doing the same. I would encourage you to focus on your relationship with our Heavenly Father because ultimately he will make the final decision. I will be praying for you. PS…. I have often wondered why the “LOVE & RESPECT” author(s) never share feedback on our comments…. We should pray for them too! Peace & Blessings dear….

    • Not knowing your situation, I cannot reply with wisdom. I can say “yes Ephesians 5:33 does work but not with people who do not wish to receive the love and respect we give to them.” As I have taught, Jesus had his Judas, and my own mom separated from my dad for many years, though they reconciled and stayed married until death. But people are moral and spiritual beings who make their own choices. We cannot control the outcomes in others. We can only control our actions and reactions. Ultimately, we follow Ephesians 5:33 in trust and obedience to Christ. Nothing we do is wasted to Him. He will reward us forever for our loving and respectful reactions. This is about who we choose to be, not about who our spouse fails to be. That’s tough to hear but it is the case. Regardless of the other person, God calls us to not be a hostile, contemptuous person. But, for example, when another person is having an affair, they will close off to our love and respect. Each must decide: “Will I stay in there based on 1 Peter 3:1,2 or Hosea 3:1 and win my spouse with love and respect, though they are undeserving?” Bottom line, God commands us to live this way because most people respond to love and respect. However, as mature adults we know these principles are not absolute promises. Meeting another’s need for love and respect usually works but is never a guarantee. This pains us when we long for the other to receive our love and respect but we cannot coerce them into responding anymore then they can coerce us. At the same time, it is always too soon to quit. Some conclude that a lack of response for months means a lack of response forever. I have found that to be a wrong conclusion for many folks. Staying the course often works. I have referred to research that points out that those who were very unhappy were very happy five years later and they did little to change. They just outlasted some of the problems that caused their unhappiness. The University of Chicago did this research. It is mind-boggling.