My husband hates me – well, he used to up until recently. I know it sounds like an exaggeration, and at first, I thought so, too.
Am I just being a drama queen?
His toxic behavior and passive-aggressive actions over the past several years really made it crystal clear: my husband hates me.
Or at least he did.
We’ve turned a corner the last few months and things are looking up – fingers crossed – but we were in such a rough patch for a while there that it felt like an earthquake.
It’s painful to even think about how bad things got, but this past spring I was literally at my wit’s end.
My husband had become intolerable.
I still remember six months ago when he even admitted it out loud: “I can’t stand being around you.”
It hurt, I’ll be honest.
He was fine around friends and other people, but when it came to me he was absolutely cold, hyper-critical, or a grumbling couch potato monster.
I was ready to walk out the door and give up on the years of love we had before, but before I took that step a number of things changed. I wanted to share my journey of how my husband and I turned things around here.
1. Start by accepting the current reality
Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, and I was in denial for a long time. I thought if I could pretend my husband’s behavior was normal or focus on other things that our relationship would get back on course.
I was wrong.
It was only one day when it all became too much and I broke down crying that I first began to truly accept the current situation.
I stopped trying to justify his hostile behavior and negative attitude. I stopped telling myself it was because work was stressing him out or the problems he was having with his health.
I accepted that it was a problem between me and him and that it was either going to be fixed or we were done.
2. Stop blaming yourself
I can’t even count how many times I blamed myself for my husband’s anger and negativity.
I tried to be nicer, I cooked delicious dinners, I offered to try new things in bed …
It didn’t work. He treated me like a doormat with grunts and shrugs.
It’s not that I think I’m perfect, and there are still areas I’m working on but please – trying to solve his problems by making myself better was a stupid idea.
All of my attempts to find the root cause in myself came to nothing because I wasn’t the one emanating out rays of toxic hate (sound a little dramatic? Trust me, you haven’t met him).
It was only by stopping beating myself up that I could start to find some clarity and be honest about the situation. By acknowledging the limits of my control I could actually start to realistically assess our marriage.
For as long as I thought I was at fault and tried to fix things I instead became enmeshed in a codependent pattern that brought me to epic lows I never want to experience again.
So don’t blame yourself, it never works.
3. Family first
One of the biggest mistakes I made in the past was self-isolating. I didn’t communicate with family or spend much time with them because I didn’t want to admit something was wrong.
I even stopped communicating much with my son and daughter. I know they both probably wondered what was wrong, and I feel bad about that.
Once I started to face the reality of my husband’s toxic behavior and resentment to me, I started pulling family close once again.
I started talking about what was bothering me – not complaining – but just being a little more transparent.
I shed that sense of shame that I was bad or faulty for having marital problems and started giving love again to those closest to me, and it was great.
We had fun, cooked together, and spent valuable family time.
I had learned the valuable lesson that you don’t need to wait for everything to be “OK” in your life before spending time with those you love.
The best time is right now.
4. Put your cards on the table
Several days after my emotional crisis I put all my cards on the table. Instead of walking by while he cracked another beer and just retreating to my laptop and Netflix, I told him I wanted to talk and explained exactly what I was feeling.
I can’t say he was thrilled, but to his credit, he listened.
He also admitted that he’d been feeling like sh*t lately, too, and felt uninvested in our marriage and future. It freaked me out, but it definitely showed me I wasn’t just imagining there were problems.
Once we had this line of communication open we were able to start taking small steps forward.
5. Be as calm – and genuine – as possible
Valuable resources like Rudá Iandê’s book Laughing in the Face of Chaos was a powerful guide to finding inner peace that helped me stay as calm as possible.
I’m not saying I never got angry or sad – but I didn’t let it overtake me or do unconscious things.
I learned to own my anger and sadness and stop attaching a story and blame to it. I learned to let the hard times empower me and it made a massive difference.
Instead of feeding into my spouse’s emotional manipulation and own negativity spiral, I stood strong in my own power and created a place of stability and truth where healing could – ever so slowly – start to begin.
If you’re sitting there with your head in your hands feeling shattered and repeating “my husband hates me” in disbelief then I have a hopeful message for you.
It starts with you, and it’s all about working with what’s in your control.
6. Sometimes divorce is the answer
As brutal as it might sound, sometimes divorce and separation is the answer.
I know it’s not what most people want to hear, but you should leave it at least as an option on the table.
You can’t fix someone else’s problems for them, in fact learning to stop doing this is a key step in overcoming codependency and finding true love and intimacy.
Often when you have years of good times and powerful memories behind you – the birth of the kids, incredible vacations, hardships you worked through together – it can be just devastating to think it’s time to go your separate ways.
But the truth is that knowing divorce was a real option was one of the things that helped me find hope.
I knew that I would do my best and provide a place for my husband to start responding and if nothing worked in the end I might have to hit the road.
Know when to walk away … and know when to run
I still love my husband and I loved him even when he treated me like garbage. But I knew that despite the damage it would do to the kids and me I might have to walk away.
If you’re in a situation where your husband hates you and works against you then you need to know when to walk away … and when to run.
If he has become verbally or physically abusive then a line has been crossed and you should not subject yourself to this treatment.
If he is actively sabotaging your work, personal life, family relationships, finances or self-esteem you need to step back and take a hard look at why you’re even keeping the marriage on life support.
Sometimes it can be time to walk away.
7. Counseling can really help
In addition to really helpful resources like Rudá Iandê’s free masterclass on finding love and intimacy and overcoming codependency – which we watched together – another huge help to us was couples counseling.
When we walked through those beige doors I was sure we were in for a huge nothingburger.
I expected psychobabble and “how do you feel” bullsh*t. But actually, we were both very pleasantly surprised.
The couples counselor we met with was a highly compassionate and intelligent woman who had seen it all.
She didn’t judge us or our problem but she also wasn’t afraid at all to call balls and strikes.
She didn’t let my husband off easy but she also helped me understand a lot about ways in which my approaches were counterproductive.
Our months of attending couples counseling – which is still ongoing – genuinely helped my husband and me.
Especially when our therapist cracks jokes my husband has even laughed a few times.
Either he’s flirting with her or the ice of his seething hatred for me is starting to slowly thaw and I’d definitely like to think it’s the latter.
8. Find his hero’s instinct
As the author James Bauer explains, there’s a hidden key to understanding men and why they are attracted to a woman.
It’s called the hero’s instinct.
Learning how to trigger this in my husband and how to make him feel both needed and appreciated was a big turnaround point in our marriage.
The best way to learn how to trigger the hero instinct in your guy is to watch this free online video. James Bauer gives a terrific introduction to his concept.
If you can trigger this instinct successfully, then you’ll see the results immediately.
When a man genuinely feels like your hero, he’ll become more loving, attentive, and interested in being in a committed, long-term relationship with you.
The hero instinct is subconscious drive men have to gravitate toward people who make him feel like a hero. But it’s amplified in his romantic relationships.
Hack Spirit writer Pearl Nash discovered this for herself and in the process completely turned around a lifetime of romantic failure. You can read her story here.
Some ideas really are life-changing. And for romantic relationships, this is one of them. That’s why you should watch this free online video where you can learn how to trigger the hero instinct.
Look, I’m not saying things changed overnight, and I’m not saying I don’t still harbor some resentment about his issues.
But knowing what makes him tick seriously opened my eyes to some of the problems we had been having.
It wasn’t that I had been doing anything wrong it was more the ways in which he was failing to find what he needed in our relationship.
It wasn’t that I needed to change myself or “do better” it was more that I needed to reframe how I saw our relationship and our masculine and feminine energies. And it made a world of difference.
Learning to see this and respond to it was not only attractive and exciting for him, it was also a really fulfilling experience for me (apparently heroes also have exceptional abilities in bed, who knew).
9. More key things I learned
One of the most vital things I learned was to be realistic. My husband and I are continuing with the counseling and working on our problems, but I know that we’re not out of the woods yet and there’s still a chance we are headed for splitsville.
10. The questions keep on churning …
I remember so many nights I’d be up sleepless with thoughts and questions churning through my head.
Even once I learned to stop blaming myself and start seeing new approaches I couldn’t shake the confusion.
What exactly happened and why?
It wasn’t that I wanted to overanalyze, it’s just that I needed to understand what had been going on in order to see a path forward.
I think that those dealing with a similar situation often have a lot of questions. I know I did.
Here’s my best attempt to answer some of those nagging questions for you.
11. Does my husband really hate me?
Obviously only he can really answer that and even what he says at the moment may not be the deeper truth really could be work or personal issues. But if it goes on for months and years it’s time to break it.
But if you want some way to tell whether he’s just messing with your or being a d*ck or he actually hates your guts then the main things to consider are 1) how long is his bad behavior lasting for and 2) how does he treat you regardless of what he says.
You see, he might be behaving cold and distant to you for many other reasons.
If he’s being a jerk for a few days or even a week or two out of that Matrix and realize he really does hate or resent you for some reason (probably his own issue).
Second is that no matter how nicely he says he feels or acts in public and on the surface how does he actually treat you? When was the last time he helped out or did something thoughtful for you and showed that he actually cares about you?
When he hates you he will show it one way or another, so pay attention to what he does, not what he says, and look at how long his negative treatment continues to find out if it’s just a bump in the road or if it’s really the end of the line.
12. Don’t overreact
The very first step is to not overreact. If you accept the reality of the situation like I wrote above and take things step by step there is still a chance to salvage what you have.
If you fly off the handle or go into a rage-out at him you will just worsen the cycle of reactivity.
If he hasn’t been paying attention to you for months physically, emotionally, conversationally and in every way, it can feel like you’ve reached the end of your rope.
But overreacting and lashing out – even if it’s completely fair – will backfire in almost every case and will undo any chance you have to de-escalate the situation and have a positive resolution to it.
13. How can I tell if he means it when my husband says he hates me?
As I was writing above, saying he loves you or hates you is easy, but what do his actions tell you?
If he says he hates you it’s an awful thing to say, obviously. But pay more attention to what’s behind the words.
Months and years of neglect and emotional abuse? Or just a few bad days in which he’s become ultra-annoyed at a couple of fights you had and gone into a venting session where he says he hates you?
If your husband says he hates you say: “well I guess we can only go up from here,” or something a little bit humorous.
Try not to let the situation become dragged down even further into drama and hatred. It won’t lead to anywhere remotely beneficial for either of you.
14. What if I hate my husband, too?
I hear you, trust me.
Everything I’m saying here is basically about learning to respond effectively to toxicity.
My first emotions when dealing with my husband’s toxicity were to focus on my own feelings of resentment to him. I even hated the fact that I loved him.
Kind of twisted, right?
I thought he was cheating, I thought he was selfish, I thought he was a lazy bastard.
It’s not that I was completely wrong, it’s just that by focusing on those aspects I was making things harder.
Here’s the thing: even if you do decide to separate it’s not going to be any easier by stewing on the amount of hatred you have for your husband, too.
Try to find at least one good thing you like about him and think of it now and then when you feel like you could just smack him in the face.
15. How do I know when it’s time to say goodbye for good?
This is something I struggled with a lot. I had this question cycling through my brain on many lonely nights with him snoring only feet away.
How can you separate out the emotion of anger and disappointment from a realistic assessment of whether it’s time to say goodbye to him forever?
You also may have other crucial people to think about such as – in my case – kids and other loved ones.
In the end, all I can tell you about the “red line” for divorce is that it comes when you can’t even imagine another hour close to him.
If you feel physically nauseated by his presence and would rather be anywhere but near him then it’s time to make it a done deal.
No matter how much it’s going to hurt there is no way to go through life in near-constant torture with someone who you see no redeeming qualities about.
But, and it’s a big but (my big butt is one of the things my husband said he likes about me in couples counseling, isn’t he romantic?)
If you see any chance of saving your marriage even 1% please try to give it another chance.
16. If he ignores me does it mean he hates me?
Not necessarily, but it’s often a dangerous sign of his affection and love for you drifting away.
Your husband could be ignoring you because of many reasons, but if it continues for a long time there is a good chance he’s reached some kind of an obstacle emotionally or in his relationship with you that he just doesn’t know how to cross.
I’m not saying he has no blame, but sometimes it really is that he’s not sure what to say or how to respond to his negative and toxic emotions when you’re around so he just ignores you.
It’s awful – and it’s unacceptable – but it doesn’t necessarily mean he hates you.
17. Is my marriage hard or toxic?
I think this is a question that many of us who are more sensitive bounce around. Everyone always says marriage and relationships are work, but we come to a crossroads where we wonder: is my marriage just hard or is it actually toxic?
All I can say here is that in my case it had crossed the line from hard into toxic.
Verbal put-downs constantly, criticism, judgmental comments, complete refusal to help out with anything, and brutal emotional detachment and coldness.
Luckily things never got physically abusive and my husband never hit me otherwise I know that for me that would have been a dealbreaker and we wouldn’t currently be working our way past these issues.
If your relationship is toxic then you need to decide if it can be saved or if it’s time to scuttle it.
18. Honesty is Crucial
Throughout this whole struggle, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that honesty is crucial.
For so long I felt I could avoid negative confrontations or suffering by hiding. But the truth is it makes it worse.
You need to be honest with yourself first before you can be honest with others.
Accepting that your marital situation is unacceptable can be hard to do, but if it’s the case then you absolutely need to do it.
I know that for me it made all the difference to acknowledge that our problems were more than just side issues and to tackle them head on and start dealing with them.
Anyone else who is dealing with a situation similar to mine knows what I’m talking about and I’m here for all of my sisters who are struggling.
We’re in this together and remember: you’re not to blame and you deserve the very best he has to offer.
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