Allowing Him To Provide and Protect

Dear Karen,

 How do you get past your husband’s “I don’t have time for this” grumpies when he’s too busy and tired to talk, and you need/want him to listen or to get his input?  What’s the best way to get his cooperation? – Anonymous

Dear Anon,

Excellent question; now let’s see how to best handle this great opportunity you’re dealing with in your marriage.


 Your man is hard-wired to provide and protect.  It’s harder work for him NOT to do this.  He has a strong built-in sense of responsibility, and in most cases, gets tremendous validation and satisfaction from taking care of what he deems as his job.

 The good news is that you’re dealing with someone whose default mode is to give you what you need from him, as long as certain things are in place for him (more on that below).

 Some other great things to keep in mind about men: 

  • They are “mono-trackers”…one thing at a time tends to get their full attention, until it’s been solved (or killed); this can be confusing for women if they don’t understand this, since we’re multi-trackers by nature;

 Is this partly what could be going on when your husband comes home, that he has his mind on something else entirely?

  • Men will tend to steer clear of anything that causes them to feel badly about themselves, and will tend to gravitate towards things that make them feel great about themselves (it may sound like that is/should be true about everyone, but that’s not so true about women);

 Have you been easy to please?  That’s one way that men get to feel great about themselves, because when we’re happy, they’re responsible.

  • Men would rather roll on a colony of fire ants – naked (ow!) – than have a confrontation with their woman;

 What’s your energy like when you approach him with something you need his help to take care of?  Are you “loaded for bear”, as they say? 

  • When men can’t avoid a confrontation with their woman, the stress they feel is much higher than for women, and they take a much longer time to calm down;

 If in the past you’ve made him talk about things that were bothering you when he wasn’t ready and it caused bad feelings, he’s got that memory in his body at this point, and will work hard to avoid having it happen again.

  • Two of men’s most important needs from their woman: to be admired and appreciated.

 If you’re not showing your husband that you feel those two critically important things toward him, you are working harder in your marriage than you need to (note: you must really feel those things – don’t think you can B.S. him).  What does he do for you/the family that you can put your focus on, and have your appreciation grow?


When you want to get your husband to cooperate with something that’s important to you – and not necessarily important to him, please remember this formula for productive communication with him:

“I feel…” (sad, frustrated, confused, anxious, scared, annoyed, excited, etc. – share vulnerably what it is you are feeling, and if at all possible, avoid “YOU”, unless it’s followed by “are fabulous, handsome, a great husband/father/man, amazing, etc.)…

…followed by:

“I need…” (for you to take a couple of minutes to listen to me, for you to hold me, for you to kill the bug, a date night, a new car/house/dog, etc.).

This way, you have avoided the trap of putting him on the defensive, and you’ve given him a path to do what it is he really wants to do for you: to provide and protect.

One last thing: if you have been taking care of everyone/everything else instead of taking care of the needs your husband has of you, it would be a really smart thing to do to invest some time and energy into giving him what he needs. 

You may feel busy and tired, too, but this would be a wise investment on your part…I can practically guarantee you’ll get back way more than you give.