Dealing with an Emotionally Distant Spouse

Photo credit: Joriel "Joz" Jimenez / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: Joriel “Joz” Jimenez / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

When you are trying to save your marriage and your spouse distances himself/herself either emotionally, physically or both, you feel more alone than you ever imagined possible. You can very well understand why God said the words, It is not good for man to be alone. Because whether you are a man or a woman, being alone when you’re in a marriage is NOT the plan you had, nor is it one that God had when you got married.

But how do you get past the walls that have built up between you and your spouse? Is there a door that can be constructed so the husband and wife are no longer emotionally shut off to one another?

Yes, there is, but unfortunately, this is not something that can be accomplished overnight. Many different things went into building those walls, and it will take a lot of effort and time to dismantle them. And it may be that your spouse is not open to participating with you and God in this… at least in the beginning. And frankly, maybe ever.

But we have to say, that it’s well worth the effort and work to try, because in doing so, you could open a whole new world up to your spouse and in your own life in relationship with him or her.

I know, I have been there with my husband. And with prayer and perseverance to do what God lead, as He lead, in the timing that truly worked (rather than my misguided timing), made a way where God opened doors that I only dreamed was possible. And now, as I look back, I think about all the blessings I could have missed out on, and all my husband would have missed, if I had given up too soon. How sad that would have been for us and our families and friends (plus the fact that we would not have been able to participate with God in this awesome ministry of helping others who are married).

I have to reiterate though, that perseverance is a big part of what it will take for the eventual blessing to come about that you can receive —perseverance in hand with prayer to the Lord for guidance.

As difficult as it is, God tells us that perseverance is a virtue that we are to strive after. How I wish it weren’t true, because like most human beings, I like things to come easy (or at least relatively so). Some of us think that as children of God, we’re entitled to certain “privileges” and answers to prayer in a shorter time frame and in a way that makes sense to us.

If we think that way, we’re wrong. On this side of heaven, we aren’t promised an easy life —one that isn’t so troublesome. As a matter of fact, there are a number of warnings in the Bible that we will experience Trials and Tribulations.

Concerning marriage, the Apostle Paul warned us and it’s written in 1 Corinthians 7:28 that those who marry will face many troubles in this life. He put out that warning to “spare” us from thinking otherwise.

That’s where prayerful perseverance and trust in God becomes important. There are many verses in the Bible that encourages us to persevere even when we want to give up. Among them are:

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.(James 1:2-4)

With this said, as you brace yourself to do what it takes for the reward of what God has for you, I encourage you to read the following articles we found on the Internet. I believe they will give you insight and help in this area of your marriage. I encourage you to make this your mission to do your part in opening the door to better understanding and communication in your marriage.

The first article is posted on the National Institute of Marriage web site. It addresses wives initially, but speaks to husbands as well as it progresses. If you find that your situation is reversed where the wife is the emotionally distant spouse and you, as the husband, are the one who is trying to find help with this problem of feeling emotionally abandoned, please just flip the advice around … glean through the great information that is provided and apply what will work in your marriage.

The article begins with these thoughts and questions that you may be able to relate to:

“Many wives are deeply perplexed at the apparent emotional unavailability of their husbands. The mystery and disappointment surrounding a husband’s emotional distance is summarized in the familiar question by many wives, “Why won’t my husband talk to me?” What is it with some men who just seem unwilling or unable to process emotional information about themselves and others? Are some men just born emotionally retarded? It kind of looks and feels that way some times. Or, are they deliberately avoiding disclosure of their motives, thoughts and feelings? And, why would they hide such information from someone they profess to love?”

To learn from the answers that Dr Bob Burbee writes, please click onto following link to read:


Another article is written by Richard Fitzgibbons. What is especially unique about this article is that it even contains a self-test so you can:

“Evaluate your self-giving in your marriage and that of your spouse.” You can “then try to identify common causes of this weaknesses in your spouse and in yourself.”

To take advantage of what this article, posted on the Marital Healing web site, offers and take the self-test, please click on the link below:


— ALSO —

April Motl says the following about emotional detachment in marriage:

“A lot can happen between the ‘I do’ at the altar and the years that follow.  We can end up married to someone yet emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically disengaged. I have come to believe that one primary problem seems to sit at the root of most couples who feel disengaged. I call it the ‘full plate’ phenomenon. When your spouse (or you) has something that puts them emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually on overload something else has to be shut off in life —and that something else often becomes your marriage.”

To find out more, read this article:


Please search through the Marriage Missions web site for more articles that can help you in this mission of connecting with your spouse and finding ways to build and open doors of communication. There is a lot of wisdom, written by relationship experts, that is waiting for you to tap into and use. I encourage you not to give up. God has a blessing for you as you look to the Holy Spirit, our Wonderful Counselor, to open your understanding and to apply to your life.

May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
(2 Thessalonians 3:5)

This article was written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.


Filed under: Communication and Conflict

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68 responses to “Dealing with an Emotionally Distant Spouse

    1. Pepe, because this is a Christian web site we refer to the One true God of the Holy Bible. If you go back to our web site and into the Seeking More tab on the right side of the Home Page you can explore to your heart’s content.

  1. Hi, just wondering my wife of 17 years decided that our marriage is over. This past month after our 6th baby was born she started texting a guy back in December. She met him last year after we had a miscarriage in November and about the same time she felt a connection to him. She was going to break up back then we found out that she was pregnant and decided to still after we talked about it and the summer was all good. Now she says she’s not happy with things the way they are and is emotionally detached and distant from me.

    What and how can I get her back? I love her. I know what caused her stress and money and she says 17 years of ups and downs. She says I tried to leave before when I lost feeling for you and then she stayed and worked it out. Over Christmas she told people at Christmas parties that we were going to try for another baby. Now she says no to that but I’m still in her heart. She says she just turned the switch off to me and turned it on for him as I saw some of the text messages between then. Thank you, Jami

  2. We have gone through counseling and I’ve grown a lot spiritually the last two years. My husband and I have different weekend lifestyles- he does not tend to keep me in the loop that he chooses to be doing yard work half the day. Can someone enlighten me is this mentally distancing and why does he choose not to keep me in the loop when he wants to choose his outdoors lifestyle as a priority?

  3. My husband has been living in another state with his mother and has been taking care if a sick gentleman. When he is at the man’s house he does not call me at all unless he goes outside or in another room….this is a man who has cheated on me repeatedly in the last 10 years. I know in my heart something is up and I’m at the end of my rope and do not know what to do other than pray about it now.

  4. Here goes. I have been married 19 years to a man I met at 17. We have two beautiful children. They both have special needs. For the last 15 years we have grown apart. He has become emotionally and physically unavailable. I have suffered in silence. I tried to talk to him, email, marraige counselling but nothing has worked. He stays home and I work. He does not like it when I try to tell him what I need and he never follows through. He is angry a lot and does not go to church. Is there any point in continuing this marraige. I feel like I have lost myself.

  5. Hi, I’m been married almost 9 yrs! My marriage has been a rollercoaster! My husband is bipolar and it has been tough! I was a single mother never married before when we met and we have 2 kids together! I have gone through domestic violence with him, emotional cheating recently, all the abuse for soo many years and we separated for a year but we still see each other. So many times I wanted to leave him but deep down inside I have always loved him. He is my husband, the partner I chose for life. I really meant it when I said I DO!

    Recently in March we had a big argument and over some issues he couldn’t get medicine for most 8 months and flipped out. Well, to make it short we’ve have a restraining order for 3 yrs! It’s hard living like this. I still love him, he says he loves me too but now he says he is confused about our marriage and doesn’t have hope any more and it breaks my heart that gave him so many chances and forgave him for all he did to me and now he is the one that is preparing to separate/divorce! He told me he is emotionally detaching. He started working traveling at the fair and started doing videos online. He lied to me about having Instagram when we agree on compromising and be a team but felt he stabbed me in the back the last time I found out he lied.

    He doesn’t call or text me like he used to he and is cold towards me and he say it’s because I’m stopping him for his dream of becoming famous as a counselor, an artist! I know I have some fault in this marriage .I did tell him if this didn’t work out I was going to leave from the city to another and when I found out about the girls and now that his boss gave him a free bike my trust in him is not there yet. I did flip out and told him to go with her in a meaner way! I know I wasn’t right! I don’t understand why I stay and put up with what I went through and for trust issues that I don’t have because of what he did.

    I know I cannot change him, only God can I just want the best for him and the best for our family. I don’t give up even with my heart all broken I still want this to work and he says he does but at the same time he is confused. His plans and dreams don’t include me! He wants to be a millionaire, a successful salesman etc.. and I see that we are not a priority. I have always focused too much on my marriage but alone I know I can’t do it! He doesn’t dedicate any time – almost never. I’m vulnerable and alone most of the time. This is some part of what my marriage has been.

    He knows some of the Bible and he says he prays but everything he knows he doesn’t practice! I found this website and I love it. I did some exercise questions but I see I’m the one looking to save my marriage. I told him to do the exercise for me and thankfully he did it but I read it and find out he loves me but he is confused and has no hope and he knows it won’t work! I’m devasted because I never saw myself divorced. God hates divorce and is a sacred covenant! We are a young couple 30 yrs of age! I need encouragements.