I sometimes hear from wives who complain that their older husband is still acting like a young, single man. At first, this type of behavior might seem annoying but harmless. However, over time, it can start to become much more worrisome and it can make you wonder if there is something driving him to act this way or if it means anything for your marriage.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband still acts like he’s a college frat boy and it used to drive me crazy but now I am absolutely at the end of my rope. We have two small kids and he is still driving around in a 2 seat convertible. He still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. He still needs to go out to bars with the boys. He apparently still needs to flirt with other women. And he thinks he’s entitled to a golf day every Sunday. The other day, we were at a restaurant with our kids and my husband ran into someone he knew. He went over to the other table and never even bothered to introduce me and the kids, almost as if he didn’t have a family. Why does he act this way? Is he ashamed of us? Is he not really committed to me? Why would a married man want to act as if he’s single? And what can I do about this?”
There are many reasons that married men act as if they are single. I will discuss some of the reasons below and offer some suggestions about how to deal with this.
Some Not So Innocent Reasons That Married Men Try To Act Single: There are some negative reasons that married men will try to give off the impression that they are single. Sometimes, they are looking to attract and see other women. Or, they want to give off the impression that they are more young, carefree, and unencumbered than they actually are. And, some men have checked out of their marriage and therefore they want to distance themselves from their wife or downplay their marriage as much as they possibly can.
Some Innocent Reasons That Married Men Want To Give Off The Impression That They Are Single: There are some men who have low levels of maturity and who are reluctant to grow up. This may not be indicative of their commitment to their family or their love to their wife, but they may have negative connotations of a boring, trapped married man and they don’t want these descriptions to apply to them. So even if they really are committed to their family, they may not want to give off that image because they are still invested as coming off as young, hip, and free. Typically, you would have seen this issue early on in your marriage, long before you had kids.
Which type of issue you are dealing with (and which of the above description is most applicable to your husband) will influence how you approach him. But it is important that you do approach him because this is an issue bigger than him appearing single. This issue encompasses respect, commitment, and important perceptions in your marriage.
How To Handle A Husband Who Acts Single: As I alluded to, if you suspect that your husband is appearing unmarried in order to be unfaithful, than your approach would not be the same as it would if he was acting unmarried because of his own immaturity or an unwillingness to grow up. Nonetheless, a suggested script might be something like: “sometimes, it seems to me that the perception you give off is one of a single guy. I don’t want you to feel as if you’re tried down and you don’t have any opportunities to have fun with your friends. I want for you to be happy and to feel excited about your life, but I would like for you to feel excited and proud about being part of our family. I would like for you to include us in your life more than you do. Because sometimes when you don’t, it makes me worry that you’re not really happy and committed to being part of our family. And when this happens, I worry about our marriage. I want a husband who is so proud to be married to me that he doesn’t mind everyone knowing that he’s already spoken for. I want a father for my children who wants to show them off rather than hiding them from every one. We are adults now. There is nothing wrong with being proud to be part of a family. I love you. I’m proud that you’re my husband and I want to show you off to every one that I know. When you don’t do the same, it hurts me and it makes me question you’re commitment to me. Are you willing to do better to give me more security? Because if you’re not, I’m really worried about our marriage. I’m not sure how you can have a healthy and secure marriage if one of the spouse’s refuses to acknowledge that he’s married. And it’s not giving our kids the father that they deserve. Will you commit to making this a priority?”
Make sure that you don’t sound accusatory or call him an immature, frat boy. But make it clear that something has to change and that he has to be the one to change it.