Hating the man you married doesn’t have to mean the end of the road.
By Terry Real
Last updated on Nov 10, 2023
Photo: vorDa / Getty Images Signature Via Canva
If you’ve ever thought about how much you hate your husband, you’re not alone. You’re far from the only wife to feel this way.
You’re angry, sick and tired of fighting what feels like a losing battle. You’ve probably said to yourself, “I can’t get him to change no matter what I do!” You might even wonder if your marriage is over.
Even if talking to your husband feels like punching a brick wall, your marriage can still come back from the brink.
In fact, this might sound shocking, but that fiery hatred you feel? It could be exactly what you need to strengthen your marriage.
The key to falling back in love with your spouse after that fire has long grown cold is a practice called fierce intimacy.
Fierce intimacy means telling the truth no matter what. Even when it’s hard. Even when you don’t want to because it could mean ticking your husband off or starting a fight.
When couples are having marital troubles, they tend to fall into two camps:
Those who are full of hate and constantly bicker.Those who separate almost silently. Neither partner so much as even raises their voice.
Believe it or not, the latter couple is less likely to resolve their problems. They’re completely done.
In romantic relationships, hate isn’t the opposite of love — apathy is.
So when you stop ticking each other off because you’ve given up, or it’s too upsetting, or it feels like pulling teeth, you’re cutting off your chances of fixing anything. You think you’re compromising or accommodating, but really, you’re not.
You’re resentful. You’re suffering. You’re lying to yourself and your husband to “keep the peace.”
And telling those lies — to him and to yourself — has a price. That resentment is going to show up as increased distance. Decreased passion.
One of the first casualties of not telling the truth in your marriage is passion. The love you have for each other will dry up and wither away.
Difficult issues and challenges happen in all marriages over time. Letting them go unresolved, however, can lead to a growing pile of resentments. If you are sitting on your anger at your husband and never addressing it, it can still negatively impact your marriage.
When you choose not to speak up for yourself in your relationship, you’ll reach stalemates rather than resolutions.
Regardless of what you and your husband fought about in the past, your biggest problem now is the two of you can no longer engage in an open, honest dialogue. And you have no idea what you can do about it. You have no effective method of correction, and you feel like a nag when you ask him to do anything.
He’s proven that you can’t expect him to do something differently simply because it would make you happy.
Frankly, you’re tired of even trying.
Getting into this kind of situation is simple. But fixing it is going to require fierce intimacy and the willingness to change your approach.
You’ll have to embrace the willingness to be honest. To speak your truth with love, you’ll have to learn to stand up for yourself.
While this may sound counterintuitive, saying what you truly feel is the best way for couples to reconnect and reestablish emotional intimacy. When you assert yourself, you show your husband you’re also an important player in this relationship and that your needs are as much a priority as his.
3-Step Plan To Establish “Fierce” Intimacy And Strengthen Your Marriage
1. Acknowledge your own needs.
When you accommodate your spouse at the cost of your own happiness, you’re really saying, “My needs don’t matter.”
In order to change things for the better, you first need to understand your personal needs and wants, as well as how they can be achieved. Then, you need to get him to truly listen and pay attention to your requests rather than brushing them off.
For instance, if you’re both working full-time jobs, but you also cook dinner and clean up the house every night, start by letting him know you need him to cook or pick up dinner a couple of nights each week, as well as make an effort to do some chores around the house during his off time.
During this period, you must be firm but loving. Tell him in no uncertain terms that you have needs in the relationship, too. If he won’t pay attention, you may need to seek out a couples therapist who can guide you in learning to approach each other as equals.
2. Let go of negative feelings and resentment.
You’re harboring resentment and hatred toward your husband. And it might be a struggle to try and get him to notice your needs. So while it’s important to continue speaking your truth, you’ve also got to let that resentment go. It’s not going to do you or your marriage any good to hold onto it.
Establishing fierce intimacy and keeping it on track means you acknowledge your husband’s efforts. You have to start recognizing when he’s trying. Notice attempts to correct bad behavior and make positive changes.
You’ve given him a list of expectations. You’ve been strong in seeking results. At this point, you should see him putting in a reasonable amount of effort and going out of his way — even just fifteen percent — to meet you where you are.
The moment this begins, it’s your turn to let go of the anger and resentment you’ve been harboring. Even if it happens little by little.
Don’t let go of your demands for change. But work on softening your approach. When you help him win by supporting his good behavior, you’ll win, too!
3. Continue guiding him with kindness and love.
Encouraging your husband when he tries doing what you’ve asked of him is critical. Reinforcing your wants, but remember to praise him for a job well done. Thank him for the effort he puts in. For the changes he’s making.
You’re daring to be vulnerable. You’re letting your resentment go and giving him positive feedback. He’s working on changing his old ways and building a better future with you.
This is a big step! When you see that he’s genuinely invested, make sure he knows you appreciate it.
You’ll always catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Make him feel good about what he’s doing and he will continue doing it, even without you asking. He will like knowing how happy he’s making you. This develops a basis of trust, honesty, and understanding.
With this strong foundation, you’ll know your relationship is strong enough to speak openly about your needs. You and your spouse know you’ll be received with love.
Relationships are hard work, but hitting a rough patch in your marriage doesn’t necessarily mean things can’t — or won’t — change.
By practicing fierce intimacy, you’ll do more than simply restore your relationship with your husband: You’ll build something far stronger and better protected against future waves of resentment or frustration.
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Terry Real is an internationally recognized family therapist, speaker, and founder of the Relational Life Institute who empowers couples to see the negative behaviors that prevent their happiness, and guides them on a step-by-step journey to uncover new ways to achieve greater intimacy and fulfillment.