The Language of Men: Understanding Your Husband’s Needs

Question

As salamu ‘alaykum

What do you think should be as a wife if a husband always criticize the wife from the way she eat, dress, talk, most of the time putting her down and the husband feels superior though she already did what he wants, but it is still not enough for him and still got criticize.

Answer by Dr Karima K Burns(Naturopathic Doctor, Herbalist – Waldorf School of Thought )

This situation can happen with husbands and with wives and can sometimes indicate an abusive relationship, however, usually it indicates a mutually dissatisfying situation for both spouses. You have not indicated you are being abused in this enquiry, provided details about yourself or examples of specific situations so I will approach the situation using the second scenario. Additionally, since you have written to me (and not your husband) I am going to approach the question with a solution that you can try yourself.

If you were seeing a counselor together or your husband had asked this question I would have a slightly different answer. However, there is one rule in relationships that has stood true across all time – you can only guarantee change if you work on your own problems. There is never any guarantee with others, as their actions and feelings are beyond your control.

Because of this it would be useless for me to provide you with information about what your husband could do. I am providing information about what you can do, and how you can understand the situation more clearly. Not because you are at fault or the only person at fault, but because, since you have asked for help, I want to give YOU the tools to regain control of your happiness in this marriage.

In the second scenario I mentioned above, the marriage has become unbearable for both spouses and the focus has turned to criticism instead of love and understanding. You may perceive that only your husband is being critical. However, your e-mail indicates that you are also critical of him. In your e-mail you are stating that your husband “puts down his wife” ,that he “feels superior”, that he is “not satisfied with what he has” and that he “criticizes his wife.”

These are four very negative statements about your husband. He most likely can sense that you feel these negative feelings towards him (and perhaps more?). Even if you don’t express these feelings he can feel this in two ways. If you do express negative feelings he will feel this in three ways:

1. If you express sadness, negative feelings, dissatisfaction, anger, etc…he will feel you are not happy with him. He wants to be able to make you happy. Knowing you are unhappy will make him very unhappy.

2. If you feel these feelings about him and do not verbalize them they will come out in non-verbal ways and he will sense them.

3. A man’s sense of worth in a marriage is often tied to his feeling of self-worth as a husband and father. A man, to be happy in a marriage, needs to feel he is a good husband and father and that he is taking good care of his family. If you are not letting him know or feel he is successful then he will be unhappy and be more likely to reflect this back to you.

This is different from what makes a woman happy in a marriage. Women are often happiest when their husband and children show that they love her. Women also want to feel they are able to make their families happy. However, most prominently, they thrive on feelings of love in the relationship. Although men also need love, men thrive more on accomplishment in the relationship.

When your husband feels successful and able to make you happy he will be more and more encouraged to continue this behavior. This may seem impossible. You may be thinking, “How can I let him know he makes me happy when he isn’t making me happy?”

To accomplish this you need to turn your focus from the negative and be able to reflect back to him, for some time, only the positive aspects of what he is doing for you as a husband. Forget, for a time, the things he is doing “wrong” and focus on and communicate to him the things he is doing “right”.

Does he support you financially? Is he handsome? Does he thank you for the meals you cook? Is he kind to his family? What good qualities does he have that you are thankful for? Why did you first love him? Why did you first marry him? Does he still have some of these qualities? Let him know about these things daily.

It may take some time for you to see some change. It depends on how long you have been married, how long this negative situation has been going on, and how dedicated and sincere you are in trying to change it.

If you can give this some effort and be patient, and give him some time to trust you again and really hear you, he will start to feel safe again in the relationship and will feel free to stop criticizing you and start complimenting you and enjoying your company.

Initially he may not trust what you are saying, or he may be so used to hearing critical things he may not understand what you are saying or really hear you at first. So please be patient and continue. Only the most severe of situations can withstand the force of so much positive energy. If you are able to infuse this relationship with as much positive energy as possible – in as many ways as you can think of – he will be unable to resist the “new mood” of the house and will naturally fall into the new patterns you have created. It may take a little time (1-3 months) but it will happen Insha-Allah.

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