Emotional Abandonment: When Your Spouse Shuts You Out

When it comes to emotional abandonment:

Image credit: Freeimages.com
Image credit: Freeimages.com

“It’s a complaint I hear regularly from people looking for help for their marriages:

  • ‘I feel distant from my spouse.’
  • ‘I try to get my husband to open up, but instead he just shuts down.’
  • ‘My wife just doesn’t seem interested in me anymore. I feel like we’re a million miles apart.’
  • ‘I don’t know if I love him anymore.’

“What we’re talking about here is emotional abandonment. Instead of physically leaving the relationship, your spouse simply checks out emotionally. They stop investing in the marriage, leaving their mate feeling detached and unwanted. To the outside world the situation can still look rosy, but in reality the relationship is dying a slow, quiet death.” (Dr Dave Currie with Glen Hoos)

Emotional abandonment might not even die quite so slowly and quietly, as the spouse who is shut out tries to grapple with what is happening. Sometimes there is a lot of screaming and finger-pointing within the home —which often seems to complicate the situation even further. And yet, what can the abandoned spouse do to turn the relationship back around in the right direction?

Honestly, it’s confusing —even to those who call themselves “experts” in marriage relationships because everyone’s situation is different. What’s especially tragic is that emotional abandonment is something that seems to be happening in epidemic proportions in marriages today, or maybe it’s just that we hear more about this in today’s world… it’s difficult to tell.

But whatever the case, this is something we need to address because of the devastation it is causing on so many levels to individuals within their marriages, families, churches, and society as a whole, as the family unit breaks down and goes in an unhealthy direction.

To give you some type of insight into what may be causing emotional shut downs and what a spouse can do to turn things around in a better direction, we have found several web site articles that we believe will help. Please click onto the links below to read:



With this next article, written by Dr Dave Currie and Glenn Hoos, posted on The Power to Change web site, not only gives you solutions to consider but also gives you the opportunity to request to talk to a Marriage Mentor over the issue, which you may want to consider:

• EMOTIONAL ABANDONMENT: When Your Spouse Shuts You Out

If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.

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293 responses to “Emotional Abandonment: When Your Spouse Shuts You Out

  1. My husband is so quiet and he talks to himself but his mouth moves. I keep asking him to talk to me and he gets angry and tells me to stop asking this. We are on holiday now and celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary and I am so lonely. He dwells on past stuff and gets really angry about people but it’s all going on in his head. He only talks about it when he has had a drink. He blames me for most things and never ever takes any blame for anything in life. I am really tired of this. Our sex life is not happening and this is down to me. I have lost all my libido now. I do not know where to turn.

    1. You can’t change him Anna. What you are struggling with is the personal desire to be happy and content. Find this outside of your circumstances and it can never be taken away from you. Sounds like your husband is dealing with a lot of stuff. I appeal to you on a spiritual level. Satan is clever and creates many problems in our lives that we try to fix in order to be happy and content but our focus shouldn’t be on fixing our problems but on God. Praising God can lead your soul beside still waters. I’ve nearly 10 years feeling alone and neglected in my marriage and struggling with ways in which to fix it until I realized that the answer isn’t about fixing my issues but on finding happiness and contentment in God alone.

      1. I like your comment. I’m living in a marriage where even a stranger would have more compassion towards me. My husband calls me all sorts of name, even refers to me as an embarrassment. I’m currently pregnant and having bad sickness so I’m not at my best but he still uses that to tell me how I look and who could love me. He would go to work and come back and doesn’t ask or even say anything to me for days and weeks. If I try to talk he says he’s busy or I choose to talk when he’s thinking about another topic.

        It’s one thing after the other. He’s very disrespectful to my mother. She fell off the bed and he stood there and didn’t even ask if she’s ok. I’m pregnant and had to help lift her. He doesn’t say where he’s going. I was so sick and wanted something from the pharmacy, which is like 2 blocks away and he refused until I couldn’t take the pain any more. I could go on forever cause it’s depressing. I’ve tried talking to get a counselor but he’s so stubborn, selfish and hard it’s like he’s Pharoh. We used to hug and kiss before marriage. That has gone through the window saying he doesn’t like those things. I’ve realized that I have to cry out in prayer because living like this is depressing. Can I live like that?

        1. It’s like I am reading my life in a paragraph; so sorry someone else goes through this! And as a cherry on top, I was diagnosed with Breast cancer 3 years ago. Please do not make yourself upset. Your physical and mental health is not something you can risk. I can’t leave this hell because of my medical bills.

    2. My husband has been cheated on me since day one of our relationship! With me being Catholic, I hold marriage very sacred. He is Baptist but doesn’t practice any real Christian beliefs! I try to talk about martial problems but he will start yelling and slamming things! Knowing my kids hate the yelling and get mad at me, all I’m trying to do is figure out what to do! I had a c-spine fusion, which they cut the throat to repair! My husband refused to be home to help me. He hasn’t been to the hospital when I was rushed by ambulance, or my mom dying on April 27, which she was my best friend. I watched her die right in front of me!

      I’ve been so alone I sleep with a teddybear to feel some kind of warmth! He had me quit my job due to his mistress working with us! I confronted her and she said it was true, they were intimate; he denied it! I was sick of looking like an idiot trying to make my husband want me! I gave in and quit! I’m getting a check soon from workers comp; it’s the chance for me to leave and start healing from the pain!

      1. When my husband comes home from work when we have our supper. At 2.00 am in the morning I am falling asleep! I love him very very much and try very hard to do everything he wants me to do. I am trying to be a good wife but I feel so exhausted; drained with a very poor memory. Every day is a big struggle. I cannot seem to finish my housework, do the garden and shopping I need to completely change into an organized business-confident wife. But it hasn’t happened overnight! I sleep with my teddy bear too. I pray, I sing and play the guitar – new worship songs. I have so much love inside, newly filled by the holy spirit and I am now praying in tongues. I will pray for you please do not give up. GOD CAN DO THE IMPOSSIBLE IF YOU WILL BELIEVE AND TRUST AS I AM DOING NOW BECAUSE THEN EVERY DAY BECOMES A NEW WONDER OF THIS LOVING SUPER LOVING FEELING INSIDE OF YOU.

  2. Hello, my husband abandoned me and children from USA coz he found a younger Philippines woman.

  3. Married 40 years and wife has breast cancer. She talks to me with hate. Blames me for all that is wrong in her life. Money is and has been a problem in our life. I make good money but it’s never enough. Life is not good.

    1. Take her to the beach somewhere and get in the water. Dig for shells. Get her out if she lets herself.

  4. I have been married for 20 years July 8 2015. My husband has been pushing me away more and more emotionally. He’s mad every single day. Road rage, and home rage. We are both believers. He has a lot of pride and won’t let me get help at church or expose his business. He quit helping in Sunday school. It seems that he doesn’t want to go to church lately. We have no connection, he’s only nice during sex. After that he’s mad all over again.

    We have 4 children. I’m so so drained. I have been dealing with this for years. He doesn’t get along with others; he has a problem with just about every one we try to build a relationship with. He’s always fussing with people. I’m always supporting him with school, and everything he wants to do. He never supports me. I’m 1 class away from graduation for an Associates Degree. However I owe 1,400 and he hasn’t helped me at all pay down the balance. He took 800 to pay for a drone and it crashed and broke the first time he flew it. But he wouldn’t pay my balance.

    I’m so, so, so, so, so tired. It’s hard to just walk away. I feel so miserable. I want things to be better. I’m praying hard. I want to feel that my husband cares for me and is not using me.

  5. I am a recovering alcoholic (2 years sobriety). Lately my husband and daughter have been drinking beer together. I asked why I can’t come. They don’t want to drink in front of me but I assured them it doesn’t bother me. It seems since I am sober, no one wants to be around. This started in January and sometimes he doesn’t come home til late. I don’t suspect anything physical, it just seems he enjoys talking to my daughter more than me. I love them both dearly and this just seems so complicated.

    1. The two are mean. Find nice people to go EAT with…get away from their bad ways of drinking without you. Go get happy being without them.

  6. I’ve been with my husband for 3.5 years and married for 1. I’m sad to report that THIS all started before we even got married. He used to be so kind hearted and showed me love and respect as I did him. But now he has shut me out. We’re in the middle of building our new home (by ourselves). He works a full time desk job with his parents and I work a full time desk job, as well. He has a side job and is building the house. I have two part time jobs. We live our own lives at this point. We are completely 100% emotionally disconnected.

    He promised we would start a family on our 1 year anniversary. He said to my face, “I’m not doing it, because if we have a family right now we’re bound to get a divorce. I’m not bringing a child into this relationship how it is.” Granted, I see his point on how our current relationship is… but the whole divorce thing? This is all coming from a man who said divorce was never an option. He keeps pushing that promise out with more and more excuses.

    I’ve never felt so alone in a relationship and it pains me to know it’s my MARRIAGE that is going through this. Now, I know marriage isn’t a bunch of flowers and rainbows… don’t get me wrong. But it has been hell and I haven’t been happy. I honestly didn’t think we would make it to our 1 year wedding anniversary. He says he has nothing to change and shouldn’t have to change, that I need to love him for who he is.

    But this isn’t who he was in the beginning. No. He cared in the beginning. Now he doesn’t even try. Thinks sweeping it under the carpet will make it all better. And over and over people have said he is emotionally stupid. And he is. But he has shown love and TALKED to me before… he just admits, “everyone does things in the beginning of a relationship to make themselves look good… those things fade quickly. Ask anyone.” :| I feel trapped.

  7. The first date my wife kissed me, she felt confused and closed up while laying in a hammock till 4 am. I held her the rest of the night to show her it’s ok while she lay paralyzed emotionally. Then we married 5 yrs later. After 12 yrs of marriage and 3 kids later, she can’t conflict resolve, nor express herself.

    She still internalizes all her thoughts and at 37 the family is ripped apart since the mom, the mom’s mom ,and my three girls all live together now. My spouse taught my kids to escape your problems. I said for the 5th yr in a row I can’t save for my retirement, your retirement, and kid’s college on one income spending every paycheck. That next day she said she’s separating. On my daughter’s 8th birthday, I was petitioned for divorce… her loss.

  8. We never talk unless about money, kids, and how he can’t stand to be with my parents. I can’t stand it anymore, so lonely; I don’t remember the last time we slept together. I’m on the couch or he is… help.

  9. Two years ago my husband left for the US and ever since then we’ve been on a long distance relationship. We have a son and the process our petition is still ongoing. But ever since he left things hadn’t been the same. The distance made me see clearly who my husband really is. I’ve never felt so emotionally abandoned and mentally distressed. He rarely talks to us. I understand that his job demands a lot of time and he’s having a difficult time balancing his priorities both personal and professional.

    There were many many times that he put everything else first before me and our son. There were even times that we did not skype for more than a month or not communicate for weeks giving him the space that he needed. Then when I finally opened up to him about it, he brushed it off and completely ignored the situation like it wasn’t important and that made me so sad and upset. It went on for months. Every time I tell him how I feel he gaslights. He tells me I’m crazy for feeling that way and tries to twist things around telling me it’s my fault for feeling that way. I’ve cried so many times feeling bad for myself and my son and no comfort is given by him or anyone. My feelings aren’t important to him and he tries so hard to nehaye how I feel. It drives me crazy inside. It’s hard because I don’t have friends to talk to and I don’t want to talk to my family about our situation. He is emotionally abandoning me and I just don’t know what to do anymore.

  10. The problem is that these difficulties really should be identified BEFORE one commits themselves to a relationship. Instead people get hung up in the romance, fall for someone without ever really getting to know them. If you are not communicating openly as a couple within a couple of weeks of meeting one another any real relationship is doomed.

    1. Um, people change. I married a sweet, caring man and after his mom died from cancer, he couldn’t deal with his anger and loss. He takes it out on me, calling me names, telling me I don’t contribute to the family, no one else will love me, etc. He’s definitely is not the same person I married. We dated for 4 years, were engaged, did a year of pre-marital counseling, waited 5 years before having kids and none of that helped. I wish it were as simple as you suggest.

  11. Well, My husband works by himself and is a kind of lonely guy. When he comes home he talks to me endlessly about things I don’t care about. I listen for the most part but I’m in sales and the last thing I want to do is listen to a speech. Our kids are over 18 and have all moved out because he has given all his attention to foreign exchange students that are all very nice, smart and interesting. He says he is just more interested in them. He does errands for them and works harder for them than he has ever for his own family.

    He wanted me to go on vacation with one of the girls and himself, which is about 2 hours away and then drive her another 2 hours to her other family. He has never made an offer to drive our kids or me to the Mall of America. He does this when he can look like a bigshot to these incredibly smart girls. I’m so sick of this I want answers or I want him gone. When I told him no way did I want to go on vacation or take her in the winter time across the state, he said he gives up and he doesn’t care about anything any more. I think he is trying to make me feel bad about not being part of this fantasy that is hurting our family. Do you have any words of wisdom for me? Financially he does not contribute much and will not look for other work because he says no one will hire him because he has had his own bussiness and he is unhirable.

    Thanks for reading this. I just don’t know how much harder to work on this… or if I want to anymore.

  12. My husband hardly talks to me. When I got back home I yearn for him –all he would do. Eat together. Then spend some time with the baby and me till we put the baby asleep. Then after he is on his computer playing games, watching documentaries or films. And sometimes go out fishing with my cousins. We hardly spend time together until I get angry and stood talking to him. He will be after me, kiss me, and all that. Then next day same thing again. All I want is his love but sometimes I feel so shattered that I want to kill him for making me yearn for him. Pfff.

    1. Hi. I’m in the same boat with you. The only good thing is that I don’t have a kid with him. My son is off to college. I don’t want to kill him; it’s not worth it. But I will leave for sure.

      1. Hi Carl,
        Of course…. But these two , Shana and Ni, describe situations which seem more extreme than a need for “me time”

  13. I’m so confused too…I tell him I love him and he doesn’t even say it back. I’ve tried so hard and I’m exhausted. I dont know what I ever did. Finances are a problem right now but I don’t get why he is pushing it on me.

  14. We’ve been married 47 years and my husband hasn’t talked, slept or associated with me in 45 years. This is his way of a successful marriage and causes no problems.

  15. Requesting prayer for James concerning my fiancé. She doesn’t prioritize my wants in trying to look out for the family, always taking her daughters side scheming, and disrespecting. I’m trying to stay but it’s hard; I’m praying but I need your prayers. God bless.

    1. Look deep inside yourself… If you are not married yet, you have a chance to start over with no strings attached.

  16. I lost my job 3 years ago after a spinal surgery. My husband has ranted and raved about how much he hates his job. I feel bad that he’s stuck with a job he hates, however we are both in our late 50s and there is no alternative. He’s got a good paying job (thank God). But he tells me every day he’s going to quit. He’s even told me he’s going to quit just before going to bed (I can’t sleep when he does). I feel like a failure and a burden. I have no sense of security. I told him we need to go to counseling and that I feel shut down. He won’t talk to me and if I dare ask how his day was he rants (just makes it worse for both of us). I know there is no place for resentment. However, honestly that is all I feel toward him after enduring three years of this. He often shops around to find me a job. I’ve told him I am still in pain!

  17. My husband is cold short and mean. He works then comes home waits for his dinner. He doesn’t pay me or the kids much attention and everything he says sounds mean. He still wants to have sex and gets irritated when I say no because I don’t like the way he treats me. Then he starts saying “I work and pay the bills and buy stuff and you won’t even put out.” I have to pry to hear about his day and he never asks me how mine was. He doesn’t kiss me anymore, swears he’s not cheating. If I act like the way he does he calls me names.

    I don’t know what to do. My kids are 1 and 2. I have no daycare for them to work. I’d have to work overnights and move in with my grandparents until I could afford a home and vehicle. I feel so alone and am trying to be strong and OK for my kids. It’s getting more difficult every day.

  18. I didn’t need to see the term ’emotional numbness’ before I identified it as my feelings towards my husband. He is a great guy; I’m just done. I don’t want to be married anymore; I don’t want to ‘share’ my life anymore. We’re both Christians, but seldom seem to enhance the other. I don’t care to ‘make things right.’ I want out after 30 yrs of marriage.

    1. How much this must grieve the Lord. It’s a good thing He didn’t and never has had this attitude toward us. It’s a good thing he doesn’t say, “I’m done” … “I don’t want to ‘share’ my life and love anymore” … “30 years is enough –this is my time; ‘I don’t care to make things right.'” I’m sad for you and sad for your husband –this “great guy,” and sad for all of the people around you who are witnessing this “I give up and want this time in my life to be about ME, rather than we.”

      I pray God will lead them to others who will persevere, keep their vows and inspire them NOT to give up, rather than influence them to the point where they wonder whether they should go down this same road. Sadly, that happens in too many situations. And the unbelieving world points, shakes their heads, and laughs at what they call hypocrisy in those who call themselves “Christ followers” even though Jesus would never do this to us or them. This is sad, so very sad. I hope you change your mind.

      1. If I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that Jesus would not want us to be treated the way we are treated by certain men in this world; to abandon us and feel that it’s OK to treat us the way they do. I’m pretty sure that in the Bible it states something about the Lord telling man to treat their women well…I’m pretty sure that poor woman after 30 years is tired of it to also sure that that’s why the Pope himself has made it easier to get an annulment these days because he knows how difficult a world it is and I have to admit it’s very lonely and I’ve only been married for five years!

  19. My husband just up and left. He has cut off contact with me, saying things were just too much. He has done this many times before and always comes back apologizing and promising never to do it again. Our therapist thinks he has a personality disorder / chemical imbalance. I want a loving marriage but it’s very difficult to be put through such emotional turmoil once a year. What do I do? This time I think he is gone forever. He did seek out the therapist but hasn’t communicated with me in 2 weeks and moved out.

  20. When you know who you are through God’s description anybody who puts me down looks like a child throwing a tantrum. Nobody can change the way I know God says I am… Amen. I always tell my husband I know for a fact he loves me because who wouldn’t and we both laughed. I never have an angry, hateful motive guiding anything I provide anybody, who wouldn’t love that. Lol I love you all.

  21. I feel if people would just resort to 100% maturity, especially if they have children and bless God, then we would end bullies altogether.

  22. When I am in an emotional upheaval (for instance when my mother died), my husband will not talk to me or be near me. He goes into his room or out and I see very little of him for days or even weeks. My husband isn’t bad or mean to me, I just feel emotionally abandoned when I need him most of all.

    I suspect that he just doesn’t know what to do to comfort me. I have talked with him many times about this and told him what I need. I just need him to put his arm around me or hug me or listen to me while I grieve. I need to know that he’s there for me. Although I’ve discussed it many times, it hasn’t helped. In fact, when I discuss it, he gets angry and says, “Yeah, I’m a horrible human being. It’s all my fault,” and then he storms off.

    I have been married for 30 years and we are now retired. Things haven’t gotten any better over the years. I feel as if I don’t have a husband….just a man living in my house who I have to take care of. Even though I am old now, I still need something more. I feel alone. I don’t know what I can do to get my needs met. I almost feel as if I am being punished for being upset or sad. It makes everything worse at an already horrible time.

  23. This past 18 months has been hell. My partner and husband of 8 years had an emotional affair with a woman that lasted close to 6 month. He also told me he never loved me. A majority of this affair was based on how horrible I am, how I am boring, work too much, cook boring meals, talk too much and haven’t lost enough weight. I know this because I read entire conversations of his on his computer. When I confronted him he became suicidal (and still denies the relationship). He then became very manic, unable to hold conversations jumping from topic to topic and really brain scattered. For about 3 months he was all over the place emotionally; he would experience high then a low mood that would change very quickly. I managed to get him to a psycharist and medicated. That was 12 months ago.

    For 6 months I became his full time care giver he had no ability to care for himself. Currently he is employed (after a great deal of time unemployed) however he has little ability to hold a conversation feel or experience emotion. Also he struggles to function at all outside of work. We are currently working opposite shifts to each other and are lucky to see each other once a week. I feel like my husband has disappeared and been missing the past 18 months. I deep down know that eventually he may still commit suicide. I am in my early 30’s and can’t see my husband becoming the man I want to father my children. However I don’t want to leave him; I love the man I fell in love with not the shell of a person I face now. What should I do?

    1. I am really sorry to hear about your situation. Sometimes people are not strong enough to come out with the truth; therefore it is easier to have another person feel remorse for you by shifting the blame.

      This was a conversation to win some other person’s compassion; so do not take what was written to heart. He may be having an emotional breakdown because now that the truth of his affair is out in the open with you, he feels powerless and confused.

      It is difficult being in a relationship with someone in this situation, especially having children together. However, you two will need to come together in agreement about the plan to move forward for your children…with each other or apart. Staying in a toxic relationship in my opinion is worse in my opinion, especially when the children are witness to it. But there is hope! You both wholeheartedly need to be willing to make sacrifices and commitments to one another.

      I will be praying for you and your family. I hope all will resolve peacefully, respectfully, and with a happy ending to you all. Love, Crystal

  24. My husband of 1 month is shutting me off. We didn’t fight at all. We were living with his family in another state. Work wasn’t good so we couldn’t rent right away. I wasn’t comfortable so we decided that I come back to Texas until we could afford to rent. Well now he won’t call or answer my calls or texts. Doesn’t send me money… no explanation at all. I need helpful advice on what to do. I miss him and love him. Help.

    1. Were there underlying problems in your relationship before this happened? Did his parents approve of your marriage? Is there an age problem? Did you know each other a long time before marrying? You said “we decided” –was it “we” who decided to go back to Texas or did you decide? Are you living somewhere that he would be opposed to? Was he involved with another woman or a looser lifestyle before you married? Are either of you committed Christ-followers? Were there communication problems before this where he wouldn’t talk to you for a period of time when he was upset about something? I’m not asking you these questions to judge you or him one way or another, but just to get some clarity before answering your plea for help.

  25. My husband and I have been married 4 years. It is not going good. He comes home early in the morning. When I ask where he was he just says he was down the street. I wouldn’t have a problem that he is out with his co workers if he would tell me that he will be late coming home. I have told him this already but he continues to do it. He doesn’t understand why this upsets me. What should I do?

  26. Married 22 years. My husband says he is not happy, yet can’t seem to say what is wrong. He wants discs. He is never home as he travels a lot. I feel he is hiding money. I found some; he had a lame excuse. He has me so withdrawn snd depressed. He is good to everyone but me. I do not want a divorce.

    We did lose our son last year. But he says that’s not the problem; we had been drifting apart. I am doing everything to save it.

    1. Hi Tami, I am married 36 years, (I am the husband) and I also have had the tendency to be “emotionally absent,” largely due to my childhood history. Sometime we men have a very hard time expressing ourselves because we either do not know how we feel (not ncie for you of course!) or we are afraid to express ourselves for fear of the reaction. Would your husband have reason to be afraid of your reaction? Has he always been a bit reclusive with his feelings?

      I am very very sorry to hear of your loss…I cannot imagine what that is like. He may say losing your son is not the problem, but I highly doubt that. Losing a child is a devastating experience for the fathers of course as well as the mothers. You both may well need professional help to get beyond such a loss, as well as to deal with the drifting apart you say has already been taking place.

      If I were in your position, I would be trying to get professional help. This would be over my head to deal with for sure.

      I certainly hope you can reach your husband and I hope these comments are of help. I hope and pray for the very best for you. I hope you see this post. God bless you both,
      WP (Work in Progress)