Men need attention. They need to feel appreciated, loved and most importantly respected. Don’t get me wrong women need that too but it’s different for men. When they don’t get what they need they aren’t always good at expressing themselves in a productive way. I’ve learned over many difficult years that if my husband is not being nice, one of his needs are not being met. This week I got the opportunity to watch this play out as I saw my husband interact with our teenage daughter. As you know, teenagers can be difficult at times. My daughter is 14 and not very “engaged” with the family right now. She’d much rather be off in her room alone or watching tv alone. When she gets home from school she has 2 hours before her “very annoying “ younger siblings get home from school. During that time she’ll usually stay out in the kitchen with us but is still usually quiet unless she needs something. One day this week she was home and my husband was trying to talk to her. I guess he wasn’t getting the responses he was looking for because it soon turned into her Dad trying to annoy her. And he was deliberately trying to make her irritated. When I saw she was about to cry and asking him why he wouldn’t just leave her alone, it hit me. He was treating her just like he does me when his needs aren’t met. I knew she really had no idea why he was being so annoying and I he didn’t know either. So while my husband sat there I said to my daughter “Let me tell you about men and why they act that way. Daddy needs your attention. He needs you to talk with him, maybe sit next to him and ask him what he’s working on. Tell him about your day. When he feels ignored he’s going to do anything he can to get your attention even if it’s negative attention. He doesn’t mean to do it and doesn’t even realize he’s not being nice, he just wants some reaction from you.” As a teenager, she heard me and laughed but changed nothing, just went to her room.
My husband wholeheartedly agreed with what I said and acknowledged he does it unconsciously. It was interesting watching him act that way to my daughter, I thought he just saved that for me. I still don’t really get why he can’t see he’s acting that way and stop it but at least I know what I’m working with. It took me years to figure out. I hope my daughter can learn from her Dad and not have to figure it out on her own.
So the next time your husband is trying his best to upset you, it’s probably because one of his needs aren’t being met. Maybe he just needs you to sit and watch tv with him for 15 minutes. Maybe he needs some acknowledgement for how hard he works. If you can realize he needs something but just can’t put it into words, it makes it easier to offer some grace for his attitude and look for a solution.