It’s Monday, which means it’s Reader Question of the Week Day! Today we’ve got a question from a woman who asks, what do you do if you have an inconsiderate husband, but you don’t want to nag? How do you put up appropriate boundaries?
Are there “consequences” that I can give to my husband when he’s been inconsiderate for lack of a better word? I know he’s not a child, and he’s truly a wonderful man. We’ve been happily married for over a decade and sex is great! The only major issue I have is the fact that he has no sense of time at all and this has lead to a few occasions where I’m at home worried sick wondering if he’s had an accident.
This happened again this evening: he left home at 7:15 to have our van checked by this mechanic who works out of his house. He should have been back within an hour. After 2 hours, I think, ok, they’re chatting. I text him. No answer. I call. His phone appears to be off (highly unusual). 3 hours later, I’m starting to worry a bit, but keep reminding myself of his track record. By 11:45 I’m in a full fledged panic, picturing him dead. Finally he comes home and says he’s sorry, his phone was out of range and he just totally hit it off with this guy and had no clue what time it was. Really?!? You didn’t notice 4 hours went by?!? My husband can be so inconsiderate!
That’s a tough one, and I would have been worried, too. So how do you make sure this doesn’t happen again, when he’s the kind of person who doesn’t think of you sitting at home, worrying? A few thoughts on how to deal with an inconsiderate husband.
Make Sure this is a Personality Issue, Not a Relationship Issue
This likely doesn’t need to be said in this particular instance, because this woman seems very confident in the relationship, and the sex is great. But when a husband is consistently gone for long periods and you can’t get a hold of him, and he doesn’t have a good reason, it’s likely good to make sure that it is simply because he’s forgetful or inconsiderate at times, and not that something else is going on behind your back.
I’m not trying to see adultery when it isn’t there, but many women have been blindsided, and it’s likely good to make sure.
If Your Husband is Inconsiderate, it May Be More that He’s Spontaneous and “In the Moment”
Taking this note at face value, and assuming nothing more nefarious is going on, some people just are more spontaneous and go with the flow than others. Many inconsiderate husbands, for instance, are actually just spontaneous husbands. For them, they throw themselves into the here and now and pay total attention to what’s in front of them. On a Myers Briggs personality chart, since we were talking about that last week, they’d be Ps rather than Js. Combine that with extroversion, because they like being with people, and you have someone you can easily label inconsiderate, because it’s easy for them to get carried away in the moment.
Likely this is a trait you enjoyed when dating. When he was with you he was completely with you. It was as if you captivated him. He’d drop everything and do something crazy with you. It was fun! But once you’re married, what seemed spontaneous and fun can also seem inconsiderate. So just remember that this trait in him also has a beneficial side. It does make him more fun, and it does make you feel more the center of attention when he is home.
Think Strategies to Solve the Problem so You Don’t Feel Like He’s Inconsiderate
So what do you do to stop the problem so you won’t worry? Nagging or yelling at him won’t work, but you can sit down and problem solve together.
Figure out a way to HELP him do what you need him to do, rather than to punish him for not doing it. That way it’s not “You’re being inconsiderate and selfish and you’re the problem”, it’s more “we have a problem because I feel nervous when I don’t know where you are”, and you can then work on that together. It’s just a different dynamic.
So what are some possible solutions? Maybe it means every night YOU plug in his phone to make sure it doesn’t run out of battery. Maybe it means that he sets reminders on his phone to ding every two hours to call you or text you. Brainstorm together! This way you’re helping him remember to contact you and tell him where you’ll be, and you won’t worry because it’s easy to get a hold of him.
Setting Consequences if Inconsiderate Behavior Continues
If being late is hindering you in other ways than just causing worry–ie. he’s never home for dinner, or you’re consistently late for appointments and events, you can certainly implement consequences for that. The family can go ahead and eat at 6:30 whether he’s home or not, unless he’s texted you to tell you when he will be home. You can put his food in the fridge to heat up when he’s home.
If he’s not there and you have to leave to go to an appointment, you can leave without him. In Boundaries in Marriage, Cloud and Townsend describe it like this: one of the main ways that God put in motion to teach us things is the adage “you reap what you sow”. The problem in many marriages, though, is that one person is sowing confusion, but the other person is reaping it. So in this case, one person is sowing inconsideration, but it is the wife and kids who are bearing the burden by being late, or by not eating on time, etc. etc. To right the situation you just have to make sure that the one who is sowing the bad seed reaps it by instituting these consequences. It’s not about getting angry or punishing him; it’s just about setting proper boundaries.
So those are some quick thoughts. Recognize that if your husband is inconsiderate, there’s likely another side of that personality trait that you actually enjoy. Make a point to notice that! Try to problem solve together so the particular issue doesn’t rear it’s ugly head again. And if it’s a consistent problem, implement consequences so the right person bears the brunt of the behavior.
I hope that helps! Now let me know: have you ever dealt with an inconsiderate husband–or a husband who seemed inconsiderate? What did you do? How did you solve the problem? Let’s talk in the comments!