Become a member and gain unlimited access to content, courses, and webinars.
The Love & Respect



Unlimited Access To All Our Content

Inside The Love & Respect Membership

  • Love & Respect and 10 Week Study ($149 value)
  • 13 Online Courses With More Coming!
  • Access over 775+ Articles
  • Weekly Podcast - 145+ Episodes
  • Ask Emerson Videos - 60+
  • Collections - Curated Topics For You
  • Webinars Throughout The Year
and more to come...
Return to the homepage
Image duration icon
min read
Oops! Something went wrong.

Is Her Disrespect Feeding His Grumpiness? - Part 4 Grumpy Husbands [Video]

Play Arrow
Watch Intro Video

Indeed, some wives suffer when living with a grumpy husband. I cannot promise that she has the power to put the kibosh to her husband's grumbling; some husbands choose to sing the Grumble Song until they die. But I do wish to ask two questions. We will discuss the first one now, and the second in part 5.

Is Your Disrespect Feeding His Grumpiness?

Is Your Love Feeding His Grumpiness?

Disrespect Can Trigger Grumbling

Grumbling can evidence the disrespect a husband feels, even though he feels incapable of expressing it. In my case, I recall that earlier in our marriage (and still today!) I felt embarrassed to say to Sarah, “I feel disrespected.” That appeared self-centered. Instead, I might become silently grumpy. For instance, Sarah is very sanguine. In social settings, she is very outgoing. I am quieter. Afterward, she would instruct me to talk more in order to set others at ease. My silence intimidated them. On one level, she correctly assessed my quietness and its impact. On another level, she sent me the message, “You need to be like me, since who you are is unacceptable.” That felt disrespectful. At that stage of our marriage, I did not feel comfortable to reply, “You are being disrespectful.” Instead, I pursed my lips and clamped down my jaw. I gave off an air of complaint, doing so in an ill-tempered and muted way.

Many wives married such husbands. To profile the guy as unloving, when he is simply trying to deal with the feeling of rejection and disrespect, is to miss the root issue. Sure, Sarah was only trying to help, but men have vulnerabilities where women do not. Just as women can interpret men as unloving, and this would be one such instance, it can equally be held up as an example of how a man feels disrespected because the message sent is, “You are inadequate right now.”

An adult child once told me, "All our life my mom has mothered my dad and bossed him around, finger and all; very old school, of course. He is grumpy and feels no love or respect and shows her not a bit." When a grumpy husband grumbles, is he reacting to his perception that his wife disrespects him? Instead of communicating his feelings humbly and honestly with his wife, which he does not feel capable of doing, he grumbles as a way of sending the message, “I feel disrespected."

The takeaway for a wife here is to reassure her husband that she is not trying to send a message of disrespect, but to bring him more honor. She shares with him what she does because she believes in the impact he uniquely brings to her world. She needs to tell him this, framing it in the positive. When she does this, the grumpiness for some husbands will exit as quickly as it arrived. 

Respect Can Halt the Grumbling

A wife told me that her husband had "become a grumpy, surly person.” But as she read my book Motivating Your Man God’s Way, she acted on the 14-Day Plan. She said, "So I walked in the bedroom and laid down, my heart pounding, sweating, and feeling like a deer in the headlights. I did NOT want to do this! I would have preferred to write a letter and leave it somewhere for him. But I felt that I had to do this, and NOW. So I said, ‘Honey, are you awake?’ He said, ‘Uh-huh.’ I said, ‘Well, I feel like I need to tell you something.’ He said, ‘I don't wanna talk, but I'll listen.’ I took a deep breath and said, slowly, ‘I was just thinking about you today...and I know I don't always do a very good job of showing it, but I really do respect you, and I was thinking about all the things I respect about you.’”

She continued, "I waited for a response. Nothing. I thought he was asleep. After what seemed like forever, he put his hand on my shoulder (I was turned away from him). I held his hand, and I heard him sniffling. He wiped some tears from his face. He was crying too. I laid there for the longest time, crying silently. Then when I thought surely he was asleep, I got up to go write the letter. He said, ‘Where are you going?’ So I got back in bed, and for the first time in a few years we fell asleep holding each other! The next day, I kept getting texts about how wonderful I was and how much he loved me, and then he made dinner for the family and helped get the kids to bed! It was amazing!

"Since then, things have been getting better and better. I've continued to read your books, and God has helped me so much as I've tried to learn how to act respectfully in the face of every different type of situation. Once, he said something I normally would have gotten upset about. I said a silent prayer and felt that it would be best to say nothing, so I was silent. He said playfully, ‘Oh, now, don't be like that. I was only joking.’ He tickled me, and I laughed. Then we cuddled! What would normally have spiraled out of control and ended in a depressing night...I find I am understanding my husband…"

Wives have power. Respect empowers them. None of this is particularly fair to the wife, but it enables her to bring about the change in her marriage that she desires. Yes, she can complain and criticize that he ought to love her and stop being so grumpy. Or, she can do what this wife did above. 

Read the testimony of another wife, who says, "This particular day, he was talking about the kids not helping around the house and was rather grumpy about it. He kept saying, ‘They don't help, and you give them everything.’ I began to cry. I was ‘hearing pink’ and personalizing, and realized this even as I was standing there crying. I heard ‘You're a terrible housekeeper, and terrible mother,’ but I knew that wasn't what he was saying. I knew I was personalizing, but I couldn't help it.” 

She continues, “I decided to use the opportunity to stay off the crazy cycle, and I sat at my desk and typed him a letter. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I started with ‘I respect you.’ I included things like how he works and provides for the family, leads the household and does things that just amaze me that I could never do on my own. All are true. I read the letter and thought ‘How stupid does this sound? I can't believe I'm doing this.’ But I did it. I drove to his work during my lunch and left it on the dash of his car. He worked late that night, and it was bowling night so I was gone when he got it. I did get a text that said I wish you were next to me right now. I thought, ‘wow that was so sweet.’ But when I got home, oh my gosh, there were flowers and a stuffed animal waiting for me. And even better than that, he was up (normally he has fallen asleep by the time I get home). I know you know this, but let me just say, WOW, what a wonderful thing you are doing teaching these things to people. Ladies and gentlemen... pay attention, this stuff works.”

Hear from this wife too! “This morning I sent another respect-text, not saying the actual word respect but just showing concern for him. He was busy, so he actually said 'I'm sorry, it's got nothing to do with you, I'm just annoyed and irritated.' In 14 years, my husband has only said I'm sorry a handful of times...I know this is a far cry from reconciliation, but it really gave peace to my soul. It's made me realize where I went so wrong, and I feel so 'un-burdened' in trying to figure out what really happened to us.” 

She wrote again, "Just a little update...On Friday night, I locked myself out of the house, and I had to call my husband because he was the only one with the other key. Initially, he begrudgingly came and complained on the phone. He again apologized and said he was just irritable because he was hungry and had to be at work early...Again, something minor, but a far cry from the hate that has spewed from his mouth for 7 months now."

In part 5, the final article in this series, we’ll discuss the question “Is her love feeding his grumpiness?” For now, though, consider and reflect these questions.

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider

  1. Could a wife unintentionally react in disrespectful ways that feed her husband’s grumpiness? Why would that happen?
  2. Could a husband erroneously react to his perception that his wife disrespects him and then grumble in reaction to nothing? Why does this kind of misinterpretation take place?
  3. Why is it important that the wife resists profiling her husband as unloving? For the few ill-willed exceptions, that might be the case, but for most husbands, there is a deeper, root issue at play in his grumbling. What could be the root issue in your situation?
  4. Does a wife have any power to reduce her husband’s grumbling as she approaches him in ways that appear more respectful? Why do most husbands soften when feeling honored in the midst of their upset?