In strong, happy marriages, we are each responsible for our own self-confidence…our own positive feelings of worth. When we continually feel inadequate or “not enough” in our marriage and like “nothing is ever good enough for my husband,” it becomes increasingly difficult to feel good about ourselves the longer that continues.
Marriage can be challenging. Marriages can drift into patterns that are not good for us. Especially after the kids get more independent or even leave home, it’s easy for a couple to simply settle for an “okay” life as husband and wife, instead of creating a life together that is a fun, nurturing and fulfilling journey…together.
Make your marriage a priority! Don’t ever take each other for granted! And don’t become the CCO (Chief Criticism Officer) who is always putting your spouse down for something or other.
But what if you feel like you’re doing everything you can to make things good for your husband, and he still makes you feel inadequate instead of enthusiastic and inspired? Being in that kind of relationship can be soul killing over time…for you and for the relationship.
What if your life has already taken a turn for the worst? You think to yourself, “I don’t want to live my remaining years in a relationship where it seems like nothing I do is ever good enough for my husband!” What do you do if you’re tired of your husband making you feel like you don’t measure up or you’re inadequate as a wife and as a woman? Or that he really just doesn’t like you very much? Or taking that to the extreme, he makes you hate yourself. That’s devastating!
As women, we take it personally when our spouse criticizes our cooking or our clothes or our body or how we spend our free time, etc. Constructive criticism is okay now and then. An honest, gentle discussion of something particular that is bothering our spouse about us is healthy. That’s also true when we have to tell our spouse that we just do not like something he is doing. But that’s not the same as being constantly made to feel inadequate as a human being.
It’s not alright when a relationship gets to the point where there is no joy in it for either of us. We can’t be as supportive as we would like when we feel like we’re ‘’Not Enough,” or we don’t measure up or he wishes we were somehow different and better. What’s worse, is when he starts comparing us unfavorably with someone at work or at church or with one of our neighbors or friends. We feel like we have to constantly be on guard for something else he doesn’t like about us!
Here are a few ways that a husband can make his wife feel inadequate, unloved and unappreciated:
- Not valuing my opinion
- Negatively comparing me to co-workers
- Making fun of me or putting me down
- Spending all his leisure time with others
- Not appreciating my contribution to the family
- Acting like I’m too dumb to understand things
- Expecting perfection
- Making me feel like I’m not enough in bed
Nothing I Do Is Good Enough For My Husband
When we start feeling that no matter how hard we try, nothing will ever really please our husband, we need to ask ourselves a few questions. We also may need to get professional help from a counselor, therapist or mentor.
We may first need to ask, “Is my husband okay physically? Is there something going on at work that is causing him to be overly critical? Is he worried about our finances or getting older, or does he feel like he’s losing his own mojo?” Sometimes people take their own frustrations out on others, and often the other person is the person closest to them. (In this case, US!)
Once you have voiced your concerns about him, let your husband know that his constant verbal criticisms of you are hurtful. Set a relaxed time to have an honest conversation. You both must talk and listen. LIke Steven Covey says, “Try first to understand, then to be understood.” If your husband dismisses your concerns or responds with “You’re just too sensitive” and is never willing to talk calmly and with understanding, his unwillingness to have a real conversation can become a form of verbal abuse.
A very helpful book about verbal abuse is The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans. When someone constantly makes us feel unworthy or “not enough,” we know something is wrong, but we don’t realize it’s verbal abuse because we have learned to “live with it,” or think it is somehow normal. It’s not. Get help.
How To Love Yourself When Your Husband Doesn’t
One way to love yourself when your husband is making you feel inadequate, or not good enough, or thin enough, or sexy enough or anything else, speak up! Don’t suffer in silence. Stand up for yourself, and don’t try to “keep the peace” and hope the negativity will go away. It usually doesn’t. In fact, if you don’t speak up, it often gets worse.
If your husband is trying to talk to you honestly and with love, listen. It’s hard to bring up differences in a marriage. Both husband and wife need to be willing to have the hard conversations. If you can’t fix the problem yourselves, try to convince your husband to go to a pastor, therapist or counselor together. Tell him how his constant criticism is making you feel inadequate and is affecting your own happiness and well-being.
If your husband won’t go talk to someone together, go find someone to talk to yourself.
Our MDRcommunity is a perfect place to start a conversation about how your husband’s behavior is making you sad and depressed. Most women in this situation feel isolated and lonely. It helps to open up to other women in a safe, protected place where the other members don’t even know your real name or contact info unless you want to share it. Our MDRcommunity lets you do that.
Taking care of yourself physically is very, very important during those times when your husband is making you feel inadequate and incompetent. It’s degrading and harmful physically and emotionally to constantly deal with being told you are “not good enough” no matter how hard you are trying. TAKE CARE OF YOU!
Why Am I Not Enough Sexually?
Having a girlfriend or lover is the ultimate in a husband making us feel inadequate or like we don’t measure up sexually in his eyes. If he is having an affair, we think, “Obviously he doesn’t think I’m good enough in bed!” Significantly more criticism than usual is often a clue that he is having an affair. For other clues and causes of affairs, read our blog about signs your husband is having an affair.
There’s a difference in actually not being a full sexual partner in your marriage and being made to feel like you’re not sexy enough by your husband. I can’t think of a bigger turnoff to a woman than to have her husband continually act like she is not okay in the “sexy” department.
One of the things that contributes to issues of inadequacies in the bedroom (or wherever!) is that more and more men turn to porn, and that is a definite deal changer for most women. If I felt like my husband was comparing me (and my 40 or 50 or 60 year old body) to some young woman on a screen who has never had children and works out for hours at the gym everyday and gets paid to perform, that would make me feel anxious and definitely worried that I wouldn’t ever be able to compete with that.
Porn is addictive and men usually need more and more bizarre, extreme porn to get the same turn on. It’s a huge issue in our country. He needs to get professional help if this is his (and so, your) problem.
Women of every age need to feel beautiful and sexy to our husband. And we need to feel like our husband accepts us completely. We also have an obligation to be as healthy and fit as possible and to treat our own body with respect and to actually have some fun in bed. I bought a book entitled A Hundred and One Nights of Grrreat Sex, by Laura Corn. It’s a fun interactive book of fun, seductions for couples. They are not way-out, outrageous things, but just good, clean ways to put a little spice in your sex life.
None of us is perfect, but we should be willing to share openly and confidently with the man we love. It helps if we are willing to be somewhat adventurous. We don’t have to do anything we don’t want to do, but we need to be fully engaged in the sex part of marriage for all kinds of reasons. By the way, men over 50 who I’ve asked, almost always put sex in the top five things they are looking for in a woman! Our husband wants us to be turned on to him, and not see sex as an obligation but see it as a fun, sometimes funky but reassuring connecting point in our relationship.
Again, be open and honest with each other about what you like and don’t like in bed. Be sensitive. If he is constantly putting you down and making you feel like you’re not enough sexually, talk to him and see if his response makes you feel better or worse. Get help.
It helps to get stronger yourself. Our 12-part MasterPlan can help you do that, especially if your husband is making you feel like you aren’t enough and you are not being loved and cherished like you should be. If you find yourself thinking about divorce or feeling dissatisfied in your marriage, or especially if you’re somewhere on the divorce road, sign up for a free conversation so we can see what’s going on and how we might be able to help.