What does it mean when your husband defends another woman?

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You want the man in your life to be your rock and your refuge. 

He’s the one who you turn to when times get tough and you need a shoulder to cry on. 

That’s why it’s so disorienting and disturbing when he seems more interested in looking out for another woman. 

Here’s how to understand what it means when your husband goes to bat for another lady and seems to have forgotten all about you. 

What does it mean when your husband defends another woman?

1) He agrees with her opinion

Let’s start with the simplest possibility. 

He could be defending another woman because he agrees with her opinion or perspective more than yours. 

Is this rude, bad, unacceptable? That depends on your limits and boundaries in the marriage…

But it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that he’s defending another woman simply because he agrees with her and not you. 

Not everything is a conspiracy and not every position a guy takes is motivated by sex. 

He may really feel that the other woman is in the right and you are in the wrong. 

I happen to believe that he should try to be nice about this, but sooner or later if he defends another woman it is what it is. 

Maybe he just doesn’t agree with you, and let’s not forget that healthy disagreement can be part of a well-functioning marriage. 

As Ngina Otiende writes:

“Maybe your husband is like me, quick with words whenever someone pokes at his opinion. 

“Instead of assuming something is going on with another woman, figure out if he’s just defending an idea.”

2) He likes her more than you 

Let’s continue with another possibility.  

One of the most common reasons why your husband might defend another woman is that he likes her more than you

Either in that moment or more generally, something about her is making him more interested in being on her side than your side. 

Let me be clear:

I do not believe in any sense that a husband has an obligation to always agree with his wife or “spare her feelings” in some condescending way. 

But actively defending another woman is a different matter. 

It’s him putting her above you, his wife. 

It’s him seeing two choices and taking the choice that’s not you. 

This is especially true if there’s an argument or discussion where you wanted support and then were disappointed that he gave it to another woman instead. 

As Phil Ashton puts it

“It’s normal to feel a little put out when a partner steps up and defends someone else, but it crosses a line when you were there and needed his support first.”

Ashton has a good point here. 

There’s nothing wrong with you feeling kind of angered by this. If your husband prefers another woman over you it’s normal that you will feel slighted and disrespected. 

3) He wants to have sex with her

Let’s move on to reason two in terms of answering what does it mean when your husband defends another woman?

I won’t lie: it often means he wants to have sex with her (or already has). 

Men are visual creatures, so this is especially more likely if she’s a very attractive woman

He’s siding with her because he wants to be inside her. 

Is it really so far-fetched? Stranger things have happened, and unfortunately marriages these days are far too full of guys with wandering eyes (and hands). 

Can I say for sure that your husband is sexually attracted to this woman he’s defending? Of course not…

But can I tell you it’s definitely a possibility? Absolutely. 

Men have reasons for what they do and say.

And usually, that reason is sex. Not always, but often. Let’s be honest. 

After all, what’s the point of an article if it sidesteps around the issue? 

If he’s defending another woman and putting her over you there’s a good chance he’s trying to get her in bed. 

4) He has white knight syndrome

White knight syndrome is when a guy more or less gets addicted to the idea of saving damsels in distress. 

If he sees a woman in any kind of trouble, he pops up like a marionette to rescue her. 

This includes reflexively standing up for women who are being disagreed with. 

If this white knight is your husband, then you can be excused for getting annoyed by his behavior. 

After all, why isn’t he being a white knight for you? 

One of the biggest reasons is that you may not be triggering his hero instinct.

Learning about this key relationship factor can be a turning point for many couples, because it helps explain the deep biological drive that makes men respond with commitment or dismissal to the women in their lives. 

The truth is that sometimes your husband defending another woman is something you should be upset about and have every right to call him out on. 

As Kate Holmquist writes:

“You’ve been too understanding and accommodating while your husband plays the hero. I imagine you suspect the worst – and if you don’t, maybe you should. Perhaps you’re trying to keep a lid on things by telling yourself your husband is generously supporting this vulnerable person. 

“While I agree that married people can have healthy friendships with members of the opposite sex, what do such friendships look like if they’re healthy? 

“And when is a friend more than just a friend?”

5) Your relationship is becoming toxic

Another one of the potential meanings if your husband defends another woman is that your relationship is becoming toxic. 

This is not something that any woman wants to think about, but it’s important to be honest. 

  • When was the last time you and your husband were truly happy?
  • What do you feel when you look into his eyes?
  • Are your conversations meaningful and satisfying?
  • Do you look forward to seeing him or dread it?
  • How do you envision the future five years from now?

Being honest about these questions will tell you a lot about the current state of your marriage and what could be going wrong. 

This could lead you to taking marriage counselling and communicating more with him about what’s not ideal.

6) He feels you try to control him too much

One of the top reasons your husband may defend another woman is that he feels you’re trying too hard to control him. 

Advising your husband and telling him your boundaries is great, but trying to control him is a completely different matter. 

It’s toxic, and it doesn’t work. 

Even if you keep him fairly in the bounds you expect, he’s eventually going to feel resentment and start sabotaging the relationship in various ways. 

His decision to love and respect you in the ways that you want has to fully be his decision. 

Otherwise, it will be empty and prone to being betrayed at any moment. 

The thing with trying to control someone else in a relationship is that it doesn’t matter how much you’re doing it out of love. 

In fact, mixing love and the desire control is like mixing oil and water: they don’t mix and they just make the other person feel even worse. 

If he’s defending another woman around you then it could be that he’s telling you to back off and stop trying to control him in various ways. 

7) He doesn’t care about being rude to you

Another of the possible reasons your husband may be defending another woman is that he doesn’t care about being rude to you. 

Familiarity can breed contempt, and unfortunately, sometimes that’s what marriage becomes…

A bitter breeding ground of resentment and stale feelings. 

It’s awful that this is what it can become, but we have to be honest in order to start trying to resolve what’s going on. 

If your marriage has become a situation where your husband is openly rude to you without caring about the consequences then it’s the symptom of real issues that could wreck your bond. 

“If your spouse is speaking his mind in an inappropriate place at an inappropriate time, then you are right to feel hurt and angry. 

“Perhaps he is respecting the other woman’s view over your own. 

“He may be handling the whole situation disrespectfully, or conversing with you rudely, or seeing you as being in the wrong,” writes psychotherapist Ellen Evans

This isn’t something you can sweep under the wrong. 

8) He wants to shut down your side of the conversation

One of the top reasons why your husband may defend another woman is to shut down your side of the conversation. 

By defending another woman, he’s putting your views in second place and de-prioritizing whatever it is you want to say. 

The basic message is that he’s not open to agreeing with you and he wants you to be quiet. 

In this case, it can be a strategy to simply get you to give up your perspective or side of a situation in order for him to stop from talking about it. 

It can also be that he defends another woman because she supports his perspective, but he wishes to hide behind her in the conversation. 

For example, your husband may side with another woman about how you raise your kids because he agrees with her but wants to use her as a shield for the topic. 

By making it about how she’s right, he’s managing to be passive-aggressive and shield his own disagreement with you under the umbrella of agreeing with her. 

9) He wants to get revenge by trash talking you

Another one of the common reasons that a man may defend another woman is when he’s actively trash-talking you. 

He takes her side in order to go against you and say bad things about you. 

Talking disrespectfully and critically about your wife to another woman isn’t exactly classy behavior, but it happens more than we’d like to admit. 

This practice is a way for your husband to make you look bad in the eyes of someone else and vent his frustrations at you. 

Relationship writer Joe Martin has good advice on this, emphasizing that it’s crucial for men to talk respectfully about their wives in front of other women:


“One it honors her (there’s that word again) and it also sets up healthy boundaries and fires off what I call safety flares that let other women know you are taken.”

Doing this is a way for him to basically explore cheating on you, trash-talking you and venting his frustration all at the same time. 

10) He’s bullying you 

Let’s be real: sometimes your husband defends another woman because he’s bullying you. 

It’s his way of allying against you and letting you know you’re not good enough. 

Defending another woman is just another arrow in his quiver as he works to bring down your confidence, self-esteem and security in the relationship. 

It’s a low move, but it happens all the time. 

He wants to let you know that you’re not the most important thing to him and that the marriage has taken a position of lower importance for him. 

So he finds something to defend in another woman that you don’t like and needles you with it relentlessly. 

Many a divorce has started this way, even starting over things as trivial as preferring another woman’s clothing style or agreeing more with another woman’s taste in interior decoration. 

Many big problems start with very small and seemingly irrelevant disagreements. 

11) He is defending a woman he cheated with

Sometimes a man defends another woman because he cheated with her and he’s egotistically invested in defending her reputation. 

Defending her is an extension of defending what he did with her. 

Whatever faults you find with her or with the affair, he has a reason it’s not as bad as you think and it’s not what it looks like. 

It’s always you who’s misunderstanding, exaggerating or distorting things out of reality and it’s always him who’s trying to be reasonable. 

This is called gaslighting. 

It’s especially common when your husband still knows he has a hold on you and that you won’t actually leave. 

This gives him all the powerful cards to play and he will often do so with relish, defending the other woman and disempowering and criticizing your position vindictively. 

As one woman writes whose husband cheated:

“My husband has cheated on me but says he’d like to come back to the marriage. I’m devastated but I don’t want to get divorced. 

“What hurts the most is that he’s so defensive about the woman he cheated with. I’ve suggested that we get counselling but he thinks it’s a waste of money.”

12) He wants to sabotage your reputation in front of her

Another one of the reasons that a man may defend another woman is because he wants to sabotage your reputation. 

If he disagrees with you loudly or publicly in front of her it can be because he wants to take you down a peg. 

This is a particular form of bullying which is basically about tearing down your character in front of others. 

Whatever it is that he’s defending the other woman about, the obvious point is that you are wrong. 

It’s a way to bring down your power level in front of another woman. 

Think of it like a ritual fight in a tribe. 

He’s tearing off your status and giving it to someone else: he’s switching tribes and siding with another woman.  

13) He cheated on you and still has feelings for the other woman 

If your husband is defending another woman that he’s cheated with then sometimes it’s because he still has feelings for her. 

If he’s having trouble getting over her, then defending her comes as a natural instinct for him. 

After all, we tend to defend that which we love, even when our view is biased. 

It’s because being objective is very hard if not impossible when your heart is involved. 

“Many wives worry that the husband’s defense of the other woman can mean that he is still invested and still has feelings for her. 

“Sometimes, this is possible and you need to be on the look out for it,” observes Katie Lersch

While I would advise you not to be overly paranoid, if your husband has had an affair or wants to have one, you should definitely be cautious. 

His defense of a woman isn’t always a harmless caper. 

It can be a signal from his heart about how he really feels. 

14) He’s an overly agreeable guy

Last but not least, one of the reasons your husband may defend another woman is if he’s an overly agreeable guy. 

Sometimes it’s easier to say he just agrees with someone else than get involved in a conflict. 

Although in this case, he’s more likely to bow out altogether, he may express hesitant support for the other woman in order to be “fair.”

This is basically a variation on the white knight syndrome and is a way for him to be the good guy. 

While he may stop short of openly defending the other woman, the attempt to play “both sides” can be tiring and strange especially if you have no idea what he sees to defend in another woman. 

Sometimes you just want your husband to be on your side. 

Does your husband still love you?

That’s not a question I can answer. 

What I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt is that the path to create and find the true love and intimacy that you deserve is never easy or simple. 

If your husband is defending another woman it’s not a good sign. 

Even if he doesn’t know it, he has some reason that he’s putting another woman before you. 

And that’s something you’ll have to uncover and resolve if you want to make your marriage work. 

At the same time, pay attention to the roots of your own insecurity. 

As Otiende advises:

“If your heart jumps every time your husband is courteous to another woman, or you are heartbroken because he didn’t support your idea (and instead supported someone else’s) you might need to do some self-inspection, before you inspect your spouse.”

Marriage really is a two-way street. 

And your husband defending another woman isn’t the end of the world. 

But it could be just the wake-up call that both of you need to work on your marital issues before it’s too late. 

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

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