Emotional Abandonment: My Spouse is Emotionally Distant

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Your spouse may be there in your home physically (at least sometimes) but how about emotionally? Do you feel like you are on your own without a marital partner emotionally? Do you feel like emotionally there is a barbed wire fence separating you, and your spouse from getting closer together? And lastly, do you feel like you are a victim of emotional abandonment —that your spouse is emotionally distant?

That’s NOT why you married the person who you once thought was the “love of your life.” But now you find that your spouse is closed off emotionally to you and you feel emotionally abandoned because he/she is uncommunicative.

A few insights on this issue:

The following are a few insights and a few questions that might help you that Dr Gary Chapman brings out in his book, “Loving Solutions”:

There are many reasons why some spouses become uncommunicative. Their unwillingness to share verbally finds its root in what is going on inside of them. Often it is unmet needs in the marital relationship that have stimulated resentment in the spirit of the silent spouse. His silence is a way of expressing this resentment. It is his/her way of saying, “I don’t like you, so I will treat you as a non-person.”

I don’t mean that the silent partner is consciously thinking these thoughts; I mean these are the inner emotional reasons why he or she is not talking. If we can discover the emotions inside the person and the factors that give rise to these emotions, we are well on the way to helping the non-communicating spouse to break his/her silence.

The spouse who seeks to be a positive change agent would do well to ask this question: “Does my spouse have an unmet emotional need that may be causing him to resent me?”

Each of ourselves can ask ourselves the following:

  • Does my spouse genuinely feel my unconditional love or has my love been conditional —I will love you if…
  • Have I done anything to infringe upon my spouse’s freedom? Does he feel that I am trying to control his life?
  • Has my speech or behavior struck at her efforts to gain significance? Does she see me as condemning something that she values as being significant?
  • Does he see me as a barrier to the fulfillment of his need for recreation and relaxation?
  • Is my spouse struggling with the spiritual dimension of life? Does she see me as interfering with her search for peace with God?

Anyone of these questions may uncover the source of your spouse’s silence. The challenge then is to find a way to help him or her meet that emotional need at the same time maintain your own integrity and get your own needs met.

To help you further:

That’s quite the challenge —one that our “Wonderful Counselor” can help you to work through. To help you on further this mission we recommend that you read the following articles, for which we are supplying links to web sites where they are posted.

Please read them carefully and prayerfully, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal truths to you concerning your marriage. Then glean the information you can use and apply it to your situation.

Below is a web site link to an article that centers on a husband who is emotionally distant, but in reality, if it is the wife who is distant, this same advice can be applied as well. Please don’t get stuck on the gender. Glean through and pray about the insights given.

To read, please click onto the ezinearticles.com link below:


This next web site link will take you to some material which gives you the opportunity to learn a lot of things that may help you deal with this issue as well. It’s written by Richard P. Fitzgibbons. As you read and scroll down, you will find several articles to read through (including “Common Causes of Emotionally Distancing Behaviors, Major Causes of Emotionally Distant Behaviors, The Distant Husband, The Distant Wife, Cognitive and Behavioral Interventions” and then some other articles).

Read and glean:

While you may or may not agree doctrinally with all that Fitsgibbons presents, please prayerfully read, asking the Lord to show you what He has for YOU to learn. Please click onto the Maritalhealing.com link below to read:


Lastly, from the ministry of Christianity Today a challenge given (in an article formerly posted on the Internet titled, “My Spouse is Emotionally Distant,”),  is to “keep trusting God’s power and goodness.” It’s a difficult thing to do when you feel abandoned in many ways by your spouse. But God has promised to “never leave nor forsake” us. Sometimes it’s a matter of F.A.I.T.H. to believe that. F.A.I.T.H. means: Forsaking All I Trust Him. Trust in His power and goodness —no matter what!

Keep in mind the following (which was written in that article):

“Remember who God is! The same God who healed the rift between us and Him can also bring you and your spouse closer together. Zephaniah reminded Judah that God wouldn’t let their sin keep them separated from Him (Zephaniah 3:15). And God wants you to see your sadness about your relationship with your spouse by the same light.

“Don’t be discouraged. God can bring victory over sin (Zephaniah 3:13), and He can use your marriage for good purposes because He loves you and knows what you’re going through. Keep trusting in God’s power and goodness so you can be the spouse God has called you to be —and let God take care of your mate.” (See also Proverbs 3:27-35; Ephesians 4:14-16.)

Prayerfully keep in mind and consider:

The LORD your God is in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you with His love, and will rejoice over you with singing.(Zephaniah 3:17)

Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International compiled this article.


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Filed under: Communication and Conflict

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221 responses to “Emotional Abandonment: My Spouse is Emotionally Distant

  1. I just recently married with my first boyfriend. We dated for 2 years before tying the knot. I’m aware that I’m the one having issues in our relationship. I have low self esteem and I tend to overthink. I don’t understand why I keep pushing him away. I feel not loved by him through my standards and I’m tired. When I think about it I shouldn’t be acting this way because I have a good, understanding, and loving husband whom I could openly talk and speak what’s running in my mind.

    I really don’t know what to do. I’m feeding my thoughts with good reasons why I said yes to him. I am a happy person but when it comes to my relationship with him I just don’t understand. Is it because I grew up without a father? I don’t want to make any excuses or to blame my dad for why I’m going through this. All I want is to be happy and enjoy the life that God given to me. I really don’t know what to do. I’m writing him a letter today to tell him to just give me space.

  2. I have been married for 13 years. We do have our ups and downs. Since the 6th January my husband left me and said he is going to work in another country; he does not phone as usual. I would like him to return back and stay with me.

  3. Sue Says, My story is a lot like what has been posted. My husband and I dated for 13 years, before he proposed (I picked out the ring even). During the dating period, he was very attentive and loved being with me,. Took me out to dinner,. plays. People said we where the perfect couple. My mom even made my wedding dress sewing all the lace and beads on by hand. My dad loaned us his 1925 Model T, the very one they used for their wedding.

    Everything seemed like a dream, until I moved into his home. For the 1st month after we married my bed from my apartment was in the middle of the basement downstairs which was all refinished, but he slept upstairs. All the promises and happiness that I thought would be with us, since we dated for so long disappeared quickly. I sought counseling and he agreed to come with me. Shortly after a few sessions his desire to go had diminished and he flat out refused to go and so I went by myself.

    This is year 13 of marriage and we don’t talk, we don’t go to church together. Holidays are spent apart. He resides in the lower level. I am upstairs. We never eat together, he grabs a plate of something and runs downstairs. He has a microwave in the room I redecorated for a guest bedroom, even bought the bed. It seems as if TV is more important than holding a conversation. He constantly is swearing at me telling me awful things, making me cry. I often ask myself why we are together? Is this what God wants? Maybe it is me?

    When my mom calls she inquires after my husband. When his family calls they don’t even ask how I am, just is____ there?” He has me thinking that I am a nothing and that I don’t mean anything to anyone. He smokes in the house, and he knows I have Asthma and often it gets hard to breathe. As far as religion, me and him used to go to church on a regular basis, every Sunday, but somehow he got away from God and the faith. When I go I feel so alone. I see couples I know holding hands -looking happy with their families.

    Since he never wanted children but said we could adopt, I agreed. That story changed as well after we got married. He never says he loves me. He is so emotionally distant. This past Christmas, he asked me what I wanted and I said I have everything I desire I don’t want material possessions, I just want you to sleep with me, nothing more than sleeping. I said I didn’t marry you for you to sleep away from me. He never honored or respected me enough to do even that.

    Every night I pray for our relationship to get better with age. I don’t see it. Last year he wanted to file the taxes separately. We have no joint account. It is my money /his money. He complains about how the house is kept, he complains about helping out with something I cannot handle on my own.

    In closing, I feel I have lost myself. I ask God to help me, then I feel badly for asking for help when people have it worse than I do. People say I used to be so fun to be around. Now I think I am living for him out of fear, and not for myself.

    1. My heart just weeps for you. I honestly don’t think there’s anything that you can do to change him at this point. Just try not to lose sight of what makes you special. Often these things can really mess with our heads and absolutley kill our self esteem. I would say maybe instead of praying that God fixes your relationship pray that his relationship with God is healed. Also pray for insight. Ask God what you should do. He will carry you through this. I will be prayig for you.

  4. Never communicates his feelings. Very unresponsive and never reacts to anything you say. Goes off to himself and always drinks heavy in a social setting. Bad influence on my children. Only child with parents that never reacted and cold.

  5. I recently got released from being incarcerated. I’ve been gone for two years. My wife feels distant because she had to be the man and the wife. Also taking care of two kids as one of them has disabilities. Since I’ve been out the wife has been distant so much that I feel I’m losing her. Is there someone that has been through this or can give me insight on the situation. Sincerely, James.

  6. Hello, My husband’s mother died in May and now his aunt died yesterday. His aunt was the last family member on his father’s side to die. He lost his father in 2008. Anyway, after my husband’s other relative died it seemed like he was ok, but I could tell he was still hurting. A couple weeks later he became very distant and angry toward me. He said that I was keeping him from his family (Two weeks after my mother-in-law’s death he wanted to go to Dallas for a family get together.

    I said that I was tired and wanted to stay home and spend time with him). It was not my intention to hurt him. I just wanted to be alone with him to help him heal. I guess I was wrong. He gave me the silent treatment for two days. We then started back talking until he wanted to go to the casino (addiction: functional and infidelity). We did not go. After this my husband became increasingly angry and distant. I have tried to talk to him, but nothing. I finally wrote him a letter of how I feel (lonely). He said that we would talk about it the next day, but then his aunt died. I just want to help and be close to him. I miss him so much. Please help me!!!!

  7. I love this web site. it is very therapeutic for me. I feel much better after reading what other women go through. I am in a marriage too. I am 54 years old, but my case is much different. I am the one who causes more sadness in my marriage. I am complaining too much, I need too much attention. I keep telling myself that I should change, but the next day I find myself complaining, quarrelling and sulking without a valid reason again. I am scared that I might lose my husband. Please assist. I believe that I am extremely jealous.

  8. Me and my husband have been having problems. I dont know which way to turn. I love my husband dearly with all my heart and soul; I could not imagine life with out him. But I need prayer because he is so distant to me. We barely spend time together, and if we do, 90% is arguing. I’m tired of doing everything alone. We have 2 sons and I’m always by myself with them. He never wants to be around me. He seems so happy when he’s not here. Please pray for me and my family; I don’t want to lose my husband.

  9. Married my best friend. I know and felt we were connected; we both felt it. In our touches for the last six months he has been distant. He works off a lot and has made me quit my job. He only calls me at night or when he needs something, barely whispers I love u and he always gripes about coming home and doesn’t have any interest in helping with remodeling the house. He never wants me to come see him where ever he is like he used to and if I call him during the day he yells at me for calling or cusses me.

    I have set him down and talked and he assures me he is happy and he would die without me. He treats me good for a few days but it’s back to the same old thing. I pulled him out of a deep hole. Almost homeless he had nothing and now he has so much and even has a great job. He gets whatever he asks for. We don’t fight argue but for six months he has become someone I don’t even know. I don’t know if I’m in love with him anymore.