When Your Husband Doesn’t Want to Spend Time with You

My Husband Never Wants to Spend Time with Me: Thoughts on how to build your friendship

One of the most common questions I get is, “how do I get my husband to spend time with me?” We feel so lonely in our marriages, as if we’re living parallel lives.

Often when things go wrong in a marriage we start looking at the “big” things–we can’t communicate; we share different values; our sex life is lousy. And yet, I think, in general, the first thing to go in a marriage is the friendship. The root of most marriage problems is that we stop being friends. And when that goes, everything else follows.

Yesterday, in my post about living in a loveless marriage, I talked about the concept of a “Love Bank”: think of your relationship as a bank account. Whenever you want to talk about an issue, or discuss a problem, you’re making a “withdrawal”, because that takes a toll on a marriage (even if, in the end, it’s a good thing to do). There are unhealthy ways of making withdrawals, too–being selfish, sniping at someone, picking a fight, etc. But all of us, even if we’re angels, will have to make withdrawals at some point.

The thing about the Marriage Love Bank is that it really can’t go into a negative balance. You have no overdraft protection on it. So if you’re going to make a withdrawal, there has to be a balance there. But life, in general, draws the balance down. Just living together provides some stress, and your balance will start to diminish unless it is built up. And the best way to build it up is to laugh together. Spend time together. Feel like friends, because then you’re on the same team!

That’s why I often tell couples that if you have a major thing you need to resolve, it’s better to spend a month building your friendship and learning how to talk together again than to delve into that huge issue. You have to have a foundation of goodwill before you start trying to deal with a big problem.

I’ve written at length on how to build your friendship and do things together, and so I thought today I would link to those posts for you. So here you go: go spend time together, build your friendship, and build up your Love Bank balance!

Building Your Friendship with Your Husband

Reader Question: Help! My Husband Never Wants to Spend Time with Me

Benefits of Walking Together

Avoiding Marriage Ruts

Just DO Something Together

Two Player Board Games you Can Play with Your Husband

50 Most Romantic Movies to Watch as a Couple

Dreaming with Your Spouse–Building a Vision Together

Hope these bless you! Now go build your friendship.

Successful Couples Do Things Together: Go and build your friendship!

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Comments

  1. I’m going to drop the other shoe here. I think it is a good thing that husbands and wives are best friends and enjoy one another’s company. There is a withdrawal aspect involved here too of course. How much time and effort should you expect/demand of your spouse to invest in being your friend? Is that a full-time job, meaning pretty much an exclusive commitment to meeting only your needs perhaps to the exclusion of theirs? When does your expectation go beyond reasonable and into being selfish? When does your need become felt as a demand that smothers your partner. This of course isn’t an issue that only women are prone to, many controlling men are guilty of the same, but for different reasons in some cases.

    My thought here is that we are both responsible to find additional resources to help meet those needs. (I recognize but will not get into the emotional affair issue here. Those are not the type of needs I am talking about.) Do you do things with other friends of the same gender? That question, of course, presupposes you have other friends AND THAT IS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. It is selfish to expect your spouse to be your only friend: your only playmate. your only sounding board, your only counsel, your only only. They cannot fulfill all of your needs fully all of the time, especially if it means they must neglect their own in so doing. You are then withdrawing while making no deposits against the future rainy days. As Sheila said, the account must stay in balance.

    Sheila is correct in saying in effect that life is the enemy to keeping our account in balance. With the time constraints of working, being a wife and mother (home manager), church and other social and civic commitments, it is difficult to cultivate additional friendships so we tend to lean on our spouses. It is both convenient and natural that we would do this, but it creates
    what can become a heavy burden. Worse, they may not always be able to meet the need and that will be perceived as a marriage failure, not just a friendship failure.

    Do expect and desire your spouse to spend time with you, but don’t make them the only resource to meet all of your needs all of the time. There are, indeed, needs ONLY THEY SHOULD MEET. But going out to eat or shopping, or to a movie when you are down and looking for a distracting pick-me-up is not the exclusive parlance of your spouse. Seek out and cultivate other options for those times when your spouse is not essential to soothing a need so that they may have time for other friendships and interests too. Balance is the key. Also, being realistic, their presence is not forever in this world. You need to accept and plan for that too. Being left behind for a time shouldn’t mean being left alone.

    • I understand what you’re saying about also needing other friends, and I entirely agree. At the same time, though, it is absolutely imperative that spouses spend some time together just talking. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but they have to have some time to build that goodwill, and the problem is that too many couples just don’t. Everything they talk about is logistics–who’s picking up the kids, who is going to the bank, what we need at the grocery store.

      So yes, you’re absolutely right that people need other friends. But too many spouses live almost parallel lives and don’t spend any time together. And you can’t build a relationship out of nothing, you know?

  2. A few weeks ago I asked my husband if we could have a “date night” once a week so that we could work on our friendship/relationship. We don’t actually go out on a date. We don’t have the money for an actual date or childcare. But we do stay in and watch a movie together or play a game or something. That seems to be helping us. Maybe in time, when one night a week becomes a habit, we’ll choose to do that on a second night. Our date night is tonight. YEAH!
    Tracy recently posted…We Can Choose to Love?My Profile

  3. One thing I notice is that often when a woman says she wants her husband to spend time with her, what she really means is that she wants him to spend time with her *doing things that SHE wants to do.* He’d be perfectly happy to spend time with her watching the football game, or fishing, or playing video games together, but she doesn’t want to do those things.

    So my suggestion is to take an interest in his interests. If he likes football, but you don’t know anything about it, ask him about it. Ask him to teach you the rules of the game — not when his favorite team is playing, but maybe during another game that he’s not so invested in and he’ll be willing to talk and explain. Go fishing with him, even if you don’t want to fish. You can sit in the boat and read a book, or take your camera and take pictures. Ask him if he knows of any fun two-player video games that you can play together.

    The more you demonstrate that you’re interested in the things he’s interested in, the more he will appreciate that and be more likely to reciprocate. You don’t have to LOVE the things he loves — you just have to love that he loves them, and try to understand those things that he loves so you can understand him a bit better.
    AmyBean recently posted…Amy’s Guide to Making Homemade Bread CrumbsMy Profile

    • Absolutely! In fact, I’ve written about that at length elsewhere. It doesn’t matter what you DO–as long as you do something. And that means maybe going to a football game, or taking up an interest in Nascar, or something. You enjoy it just because you’re spending time together, not because of what you’re doing. I talk more about that concept here. Thanks for pointing it out!

      • Really. I am on year 10 of putting his needs, likes, desires ahead of mine. Guess what, it is still all about him and what he is interested in, I still am doing all the things he likes, fishing, hunting, darts etc. do you think he talks to me when we are alone? Just enough to his needs expressed.. Please don’t pass this one sided life style on to younger women. If he isn’t interesting or interested, pass on him. If his vocabulary is below yours and he isn’t enrolled in school, pass on him, trust all of your internal warning signs – they are not just for danger warnings, they are for compatibility as well. I short changed myself because of lack of confidence. On the up side, my husband is a excellent provider and never gives me cause to worry about his fidelity. So I remain acutely lonesome in the midst of what all of our friends would consider a successful and happy marriage. Yes, I have brought all the downsides to his attention. He is perfectly content. We have a great marriage. Everyone has their ups and downs, so he says. See now, we all know that I am too demanding. I want a daily intelligent conversation – he can pick the topic – that lasts for at least 15 minutes uninterrupted. My mantra- stay committed to the vow, stay committed to the vow, that way when he feels like talking later on this month I will be there to hear it all and provide comfort and empathy for him because that’s the way it is. Thanks for the advice. I can see how that might work for some couples.

        • I also have a husband who only wants to talk about himself. He works and travels alot so I rarely have any time with him. It is all about his needs, his problems, his difficult staff, his issues, blah blah. I have been married for over 21 years and it has always been like this. I managed with this plus his drinking and going off the rails because of my now teenage kids. But i cannot imagine that when the kids are grown up I will want to spend the remaining half of my life with a thankless, self-centred man like this. I am counting the days to be honest. So Johnsdoe I understand every word you say. I even took up golf (which I dont particularly like) so that I could spend time with him. He never asks me about my day, my problems, my worries. Why did I stay with him so long?

          • AngelaNBayern says:

            aine omochaina, you and I must be married to the same guy. If someone is only interested in himself, your doing things he likes to do does NOT mean he will reciprocate and try to watch a movie with you, have a glass of wine with you, etc. It all comes down to lack of empathy.

  4. I allow my husband to spend time with his friends and never nag him about it but sadly this has placed a huge rift between us.He never seems to spend time with me anymore unless if its having sex.I really feel used because I have no real feelings towards him anymore.

    He comes home after midnight after bingeing on alcohol with friends almost everyday and expects everthing to be normal between us.I hear some important things about his life from friends first before he even tells me.
    We seem to argue more than we agree these days.
    I ask myself what I’m doing wrong.I feel taken for granted and don’t think I can live like this anymore

    • If you don’t have any kids, get out now. I did this for over 21 years. Men like this will never change and you will end up with only the crumbs while they live their lives thinking that all is ok, you are merely an appendage. if he is really into alcohol, then you are not his first love. Check out an al-anon website and read more.

  5. I have been married for 2years, together for 6. We have 2 children, 4 & 1. I feel at my wits end about this, my husband is ALWAYS on his ps4 chatting & playing with other guys & I feel like I mean nothing anymore. He works 32hrs a week and would play roughly 50hrs+ a week on the ps4. Spends rare to no time with his 2 daughters and same with me. I sit around and try to talk to him, explain how I feel and all I get is he likes doing his own thing, he works so deserves his ‘days off’ and ‘it’s not like I’m going out every wknd & getting drunk’ speech each & every time. I am so disappointed in him as a father but he would never understand, he swears so bad not only in day to day conversations but to them & about them, our eldest has repeated the words numerous times which breaks me as a mother because all I want is the best for my children, naturally. He gets cranky very easily and yells & even speaks down to our daughters, especially our eldest, calling her names, even to her face, like dumb little girl, stupid & f*cking retard. She cries & runs to me or gets attitude (which I fear) and then cops it worse from her father like smacks or more abusive words. Every so often he tells me he is depressed and he ‘can’t do it anymore’ and I have tried over & over again to get him to see someone or even just go to the dr, but he never gets around to it. What do I do? I love him, as the father to our 2 children, as the man I married & took a vow to stick through thick & thin & to the man who I once made wonderful & awesome memories, laughing & passion & love. But am I still in love with him? I don’t think so. Am I being selfish for not trying harder considering we have only been married 2 years? Am I being lazy because I am not waiting for a few years to go by to see & hope things get better?? I am confused, lost, lonely, sad, uncomfortable in my own home. Please anyone who has advice or anything, I’m exhausted & really don’t know the right next step.

    • Megan, I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. It does sound really difficult, and it sounds like you need to start setting some firm boundaries whenever he swears at the children or at you. A good book for that is Boundaries in Marriage. I also have written two posts on video games in marriage, which you can read here (the second post is linked at the bottom in an update). I hope those help! But it does sound like you need to start setting some boundaries for sure.

  6. pinvintho says:

    My husband is a nice and caring guy. And I know he loves me. But I feel quite detached from him nowadays. He’s always busy on his tablet or computer chatting with friends. Either chatting with someone on the phone or rambling over whatsapp and facebook. It’s depressing cos whenever I try to talk to him, he never responds. I need to repeat myself 5 -6 times, and he still doesn’t respond. On the other hand, if it’s someone very ‘interesting’, like someone who’s come with a business proposal, he’d be all ears. He’s totally lost in the world of his gadgets. We’ve been married for 5 years. But we’ve never gone for an outing. The thought of going out to spend some quality time with me makes him feel lethargic. On the other hand, if his friends call him for a bachelors party, he’d happily bounce out of the house and return very late, drunk. This happens on most weekends. I’ve tried to talk to him about how I feel about what’s happening, but he doesn’t give a damn and keeps doing this over again.

    On our first anniversary, he promised we’d go out, but instead got drunk and broke his promise. When I tried to tell him how I feel, he blasted at me after which I promised myself I’d never go out with him. Ever.

    I feel like I’ve been taken for granted. Unimportant. Detached and distant. I know he loves me, I love him too. But what’s happening now is getting out of hand. I feel that we hardly talk to each other nowadays. Cos he’s always buried in his gadgets. Above all, it makes me feel lonely in our relationship.

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