Is Your Perception of Your Husband Hurting or Helping Your Relationship?

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Karen Jones

Karen Jones has been studying relationships between men and women for over two decades. She founded The Heart Matters, a relationship coaching and training company, in 1997, and published Men are Greatin 2007. In addition to being passionate about the work she does, Karen adores spending time outdoors with her husband, Craig, the love of her life.


  1. U.S. Army Persian Gulf 1991 says:

    (So here’s my advice to you:

    If you’re committed to your relationship thriving, always choose the most generous, kind, loving perception of why he might be doing (or not doing) something. Assume the best motive and intention. Start there.)

    Karen, this is great advice. I explained this concept to my wife in different words over twenty years ago. We had a misunderstanding, and I asked her to remember that I had the interests of the woman I promised to love and cherish and the children I willingly assumed responsibility for on my mind AT ALL TIMES. I told her that just as she herself did, all my actions and all the decisions that I made were with the family in mind; and I asked for her to keep that in mind before she assumed anything about what I may or may not have meant or done.

    I asked her to believe of me only what she believed of herself; and it meant the world to us.

    Thanks for this article.

    • “I asked her to believe of me only what she believed of herself; and it meant the world to us.”

      I LOVE what you wrote,and I appreciate that you took the time to share your experience. You did a brilliant job saying things in a way that could get to your wife’s heart, and have her shift. Bravo.

      I think it’s tough for men to hold their space when faced with their woman’s judgment, or anger, or negativity. I get it. And, of course, the best thing to do is just that.

      Thank you.


  2. Oh, Karen. You’re forcing me to rethink just about every complaint I’ve made in my home for…well, forever. This is great advice. Adjusting my own perceptions and attitude will probably make things much more harmonious around here. It’s probably easier said than done, but I’ll give it a try :)

    • Hi, Prudence,

      I’m delighted with the effect the article had on you – and thanks for letting me know! I have no doubt things will be more harmonious, and you may find that it gets pretty easy to do, with a little practice.

      I’d love to hear how you make out!


  3. Karen,

    It sounds good what you said in your article, and I certainly could apply your advice in some situations… However I would find it difficult to apply it in situations where my husband does not get involved in the domestic chores or does not spend time with me but surfes online, meditates or runs (instead?)… I know, all those activities are not necessarily bad as such but they take him and his attention away from us… We hardly spend more then five minutes on some days talking and if we do, it’s limited to the most necessary topics (around our son mostly…). I find it difficult to be happy just because he gets his exercise or meditates when things are not done, we hardly find opportunity to communicate, be together etc. What is your advice on that…? Thanks, Maggi

    • Hi, Maggi,

      Thanks for jumping in to the conversation! I would actually say that even in your situation, which sounds like it has the potential to cause lots of frustration (and hurt feelings!), it’s still a place where you could practice telling yourself the best possible story about why your husband’s doing what he’s doing. So, for instance, is he an insensitive ass for working out when you’ve got so much going on, or is he making sure that he’s fit and strong enough to protect and provide for your family? Is he insensitive to your needs, or is it that you may not have been clear enough about what you need and what it means to you? (And yeah, you may find that hard to believe, but it’s an area where SO many women get in trouble – assuming that things are so obvious that it MUST be a case of his lack of interest, because he SURELY can’t be that obtuse!).

      I’d really recommend that you think of a two-stage approach here: 1) shift your perception to one that allows for more loving feelings from you and then 2) have a conversation about what you need, what it looks like, and what it means to you when you have it.


    • Maggi,

      I agree wholehearted with Karen’s advice. It’s the same thing I’d tell your hubby if he asked the same question.

      It’s impossible to have a productive and trusting discussion if the truth in your feelings includes anger, resentment, and frustration. Shifting your perception and energy into a loving and appreciative one will go miles during the discussion.

      However, be careful to NOT talk in “hint” language. Be direct. Be clear. Make your desires and expectations known without wishy-washyness. Get close to him. Touch him. Make burning eye contact. At the same time you are making it clear that expect more help and more time with him, you are bathing him in your appreciation and sensuality. If these are non-negotiable values for you, treat them as such and let him know it….without threat or ultimatum. Tell him you know he wants to be your man. Give him a reputation to live up to. With strong feminine support…he usually will.

      You deserve better and he needs to know it – in the most loving and respectful way. You get what you accept.

      This is standard advice for the men I work with. Goes both ways. I can not be done however, with the wrong perceptions and energy. It’ll blow up in your face.

  4. Perception is certainly something that changes the equation not only in marriage but everything else. But I disagree with this: “This man, your wonderful partner, is in your life to help you learn to be your best self.” I don’t think we choose partners to help us be our best selves, but to love us as we are, and this strikes me as somewhat condescending to “the little women.”

    • I think anyone who has no desire for improvement is not a good partner material. We should all expect growth from ourselves and it is therefore reasonable to expect growth and improvement from your partner.

Speak Your Mind