My husband ignores me, our children

What you need to know:

We rarely spend time together (just the two of us) and when we do, we have to do something he likes. He has no interest in what I like or what our children are doing

We have been married for 13 years and I truly love my husband. However, in the last few years he has made his job and hobbies his number one priority instead of the children and I. We rarely spend time together (just the two of us) and when we do, we have to do something he likes. He has no interest in what I like or what our children are doing. I take the children to all their appointments, school functions and the like. I have tried to let him know how I feel in vain. Is it time to give up and move on or do I keep trying? If I keep trying what can I do to help him see that things cannot keep going this way? Joyce

Dear Joyce,

Disregarding a partner is a form of communication and in most cases, a symptom of an underlying issue or issues. Marriage, undergoes stages and each of these stages is significant.

 According to marriage counsellors, discovery, the third stage, comes after the second which is usually full of power struggles characterised by conflict. However, when a couple survives this stage, they might move on to the third stage where the couple ceases fire and faces reality.

Unfortunately, here, a couple might treat one another as business partners. Cheating might also happen at this stage, including a breakdown in communication since the drama ended and there seems to be mutual respect. Many couples might amicably divorce at this stage. This may not be the case in your marriage but the knowledge will help you identify the right one.

 A sudden change in behaviour might be a sign of an underlying, unspoken issue. As you mentioned above, your husband only changed a few years back meaning this is a new behaviour. What was happening before and is not happening now? How about you as an individual, have you changed in any way? Sometimes we might focus our strength on another person and forget to do a personal introspection.

Experts assert that even when one partner changes for the better, in one way or another they might affect the other positively. Remember during this change in attitude and communication, you could be feeling humiliated, and this can affect your mental health. It could be that your husband is battling either unresolved issues or stress and is coping negatively by ignoring his family members and investing energy into his job and hobbies.

Choosing to be preoccupied with his new behaviour will multiply your stress. Let him know how you feel but examine how you do it. Try to use non-confrontational language and where possible, give him the space to think about it too.

Men and women communicate differently. To a woman, love means appreciation, unconditional acceptance, and help around the house yet to a man, it might mean giving him the freedom to do what he wants. Take care of yourself during this time as your strength will help the children too. You can also seek therapy and when you are able to communicate your feelings in an assertive way, suggest seeing a marriage counsellor together to discuss what is affecting your marriage.

Assign responsibility

Jane Mukisa. Pick a parenting responsibility you want him to take over. Should he be the one to tuck the children into bed from now on? Is he the homework helper? Does he take them to their sports on the weekends? Finding some parenting tasks that are strictly a ‘daddy job’ can help your husband get more involved and can make your children feel more connected.

Try giving him space

Goretti Namuga. Instead of complaining and nagging your man to spend more time with you or do anything more with you, try something different. Try setting him free. Give him space to be who he is and who he wants to be in this marriage, giving him the freedom to be himself. You will truly enjoy and cherish when he returns to you because that is when he has made the active choice to do it. That is when he is actually missing you and wants to spend time with you.

Have a positive attitude

Joseph Kyebayiga. Keep talking to him. This is not a big enough reason to make you end a marriage after 13 years. Maybe he spends more time at work because he is the sole provider for the family. So, however much the job might be stressful, he cannot quit. The trick is to maximise the little time he is available and always have a positive attitude towards him.

Do not give up

Olivia Namukwaya. You are not alone. Every couple faces different challenges. Keep praying for him and do not give up. With time, he will change. May God protect your marriage.

Talk to your husband

Oliviera Jafa. Easily moving out of relationship after ‘failing’ to address certain issues with your partner is the reason we have many dysfunctional families with poorly raised children. What happened to sticking to our vows and making sure that you do everything you can to make sure that your marriage is a success? Have you even talked to your husband or you just want the easy way out?

Communication is key

Sarah K Frankie. I think this is common in many marriages today. Interest and connection get lost in the ‘busyness’ of life and routine. Couples start looking for distractions rather than deal with issues. Try to re-establish communication with your partner to find a compromise for family time and with each other.

Tell him how you feel

Phoebe Miriam. The goal of marriage is intimacy. No one gets married to become a piece of furniture. Sit your husband down and let him know how you feel about his attitude. You could give each other space and time to determine which direction you want your marriage to take.

Tell him he is needed

Justine Kintu. I do not think his actions are deliberate. Sometimes, mothers get so comfortable doing everything for the children that they forget to involve their husbands. Show him that he needs to spend more time with his family.

Reader advice

Evelyn Khorono Lufafa is a counselling psychologist with Sermotherapy Counselling Foundation


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