How Should I Deal with a Defensive Husband?


I like answering questions that folks send to me about their relationship. Below is an email that I got for someone who identifies herself as Jenn:

Hello Dr. Marty,
Thanks for taking my question. My husband and I will be married 5 years in February. I am feeling disconnected with him and we have been arguing a lot lately. We almost came to the decision to get divorced recently. We seem to get a long great most of the time, but all it takes is one disagreement and if he feels I am accusing him, or judging him, or criticizing him he gets defensive and is very offended by me. He may act out in the way of leaving the house, or trying to defend his position with a tone I don’t like which makes things worse of course and he brings up the past and old things. I have said in previous arguments as if I just said them to him. He recently told me he gives up and has made few efforts to have relations in the bedroom, which made me feel uncared for and neglected, so I did not pursue any connection as well. Now he blames me for lack of intimacy. Also I tend to interrupt him when he is pleading his case. I know this is wrong on my part, & I am trying not to do it, but I will forget my thought otherwise. I know is no excuse. I told him I would like to try marriage counseling and he said it would be a waste of time & money. That he can tell me what a councilor would say and have us do. Making me feel he is of the mind set he is always right. We both have much to learn, but I feel I am at my wits end. I want to make this work, but he is just very hard headed about his opinions. He will admit when he is wrong, if he believes he is wrong. I just feel stuck between a rock & a hard place. Thanks for your time in reading this.





Dear Jenn,

You are right you are between a rock and a hard place.

You have to deal with a husband who has emotionally distanced from you and is a real challenge to deal with. His judging and criticizing makes him hard to talk with in a reasonable way that will resolve the issues and be able to enjoy the relationship.


I also agree with you in terms of needing counseling, so if your husband won’t go, you should see a therapist on your own and at some point he decides to  join you that would be terrific, but in mean time, you are getting help.  You can get direction from the therapist about dealing with specific situations and also figuring out what would help to improve the quality of your life no matter what he does or doesn’t do.


Feel free to go to the landing page and take a look at the video “How to Pick a Good Counselor to figure out what to look for in a therapist that can help you to move forward.

Let me know how I can be of additional help.

Dr. Marty

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