Marriage Missions International

The Emotionally Distant Husband

Photo by Victor Habbick, courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo by Victor Habbick, courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you eager to be linked in a loving relationship with a man who cares about you deeply, but it’s just not happening?

Are you willing to encourage him on the deepest emotional levels, but you can’t chip through the ice?

Do you feel that despite your relatively lax expectations (i.e. making few demands), you are being taken advantage of? In other words, does a void exist for you?

In my counseling practice I specialize in treating common emotional stresses that, if left unattended, can turn into major debilitating problems. The hurting people who come to see me are trying to cope with anger, depression, anxiety, and the like stemming from their marriage. Since these issues are usually played out in the home, I often face the task of helping people understand how their emotions relate to their unsolved marriage problems.

Over twenty-five thousand counseling sessions have shown me that the single most common marital problem I encounter is the case of an emotionally eager wife whose husband will not engage with her on a deep, meaningful, and personal level. These phrases are indicators of the problem:

  • “Just when I think we’ve really connected, he does something to prove he never understood a thing I said.”
  • “I think the guy is oblivious to my feelings.”
  • “What does it take to get through to him?”
  • “He cares more about his work [or sports or hobbies] than he does about me.”

As the relationship progresses, or rather, fails to progress, feelings of disillusionment and futility become entrenched, and faulty patterns of communication yield increasing frustration. Failure to progress is not for lack of trying.

As I consult in case after case, I see that many emotionally eager women have good reason to feel disappointed. Most women need strong, growing relationships that are openly expressed, and their husbands fail to supply that need. These wives are living with men who have unconsciously committed themselves to an evasive way of life.

The wives aren’t the only ones hurt by this evasiveness. These men, unwilling to seriously explore the depths of their own emotional needs, perch securely atop their own little time bombs. As frustration and confusion mount, something will eventually blow.

If at all possible, I include husbands in my counseling sessions. You’d be surprised how often these undemonstrative men are looking, deep inside, for a way to jump-start their marriages. At least at an unexpected level, they are begging for someone to show them a better way to relate to their wives. In these cases, the potential for counseling success is very strong. I can show spouses the best method to address their unique relational needs, and the lessons will probably “take.”

When the husband, however, is unwilling to participate in counseling, the wife still has some excellent options. Her spouse may cling to stubborn, evasive patterns of relating, but she can make improvements in two general areas:

1. Have you noticed that in our culture, the burden of a relationship often falls on the woman? The woman is expected to “make it work.” If a man remains faithful, he gets the credit; if he strays, it’s somehow her fault, at least in part. When a relationship unravels, the greater share of the blame ends on her doorstep.

Counseling, however, can help a woman learn what lies behind the scenes of her husband’s personality, what makes him do what he does. With that knowledge in hand, she can come to realize that her husband’s behavior is not her fault after all.

2. The woman can examine the ways in which she reacts to her husband. From there she can figure out better ways of relating that will cause her less stress and personal frustration. Then, even if he never improves his behavior, she can still enjoy improved personal stability. She can be happier.

Identifying Pattern

The first step toward improving one’s relationship is to understand what constitutes patterns in marriages that can, frankly, be emotionally abusive.

It sounds so far as if I’ve been painting the husbands as villains. That’s not true in the least. Most of these men have perfectly honorable intentions and would never try to hurt their wives. But even though they usually do not set out to harm, it happens all the same.

The problem lies in the way most (not all by any means!) men approach life. As a general rule, men are less naturally inclined than women to address personal or sensitive subjects. This isn’t simply fear of pain. They really aren’t as interested. They have a natural tendency to bypass the lengthy processing that is so necessary to intimate personal interchanges and skip straight to the solution.

When the wife seeks greater depth than simply problem-options-solution and presses to explore the emotional side of an issue or its ramifications, the man’s frustration kicks in. “We’ve already handled the problem; therefore, it doesn’t exist anymore; so what is it with this woman?” To him, detailed processing is useless, perhaps even inane.

He then —and this is a key —begins looking for ways to end his participation in his wife’s processing. He may withdraw or try to put her back onto a path of logic or perhaps even explode. The explosion, you see, is a diversion, a distraction —in essence, a change of subject. Changing the subject is another often-used way out of processing. He is guided by the dread of having to spend any more time than is necessary to dwell on her emotional needs, for he almost never sees them as needs.

Women generally experience feelings and emotions more intensely than do men, mostly because they allow themselves to. A wife lets emotions run their course even as the husband is trying to stuff them, to get rid of them, for he sees them as anti-productive. Let me emphasize that there is no right-and-wrong about having strong emotions or even, to some extent, downplaying them. But because she recognizes and even nurtures her emotional side, the wife can enjoy life in its richest, fullest dimension.

Relationship and family connections are the most important ingredients in most wives’ lives. By their very nature, close relationships generate strong emotions. The wife can inadvertently create problems when she so craves emotional connections that she loses the ability to respond with reason or calm. She may become anxious; she certainly becomes angry. Not to put too fine a point on it, but hers is an insistent anger whereas his is a resistant anger.

The woman locked into these patterns can cry and complain that she feels unloved. She has such a powerful need to feel understood and cherished at an emotional level that she becomes greatly disillusioned when external signs of that understanding are nonexistent.

Evasive husbands invent a broad range of behaviors for avoiding the in-depth discussions they see as useless and potentially harmful: the silent treatment, pretended agreement, constant forgetfulness, procrastination, laziness, temper outbursts, work-a-holism, undue attention to a hobby or sport, and in general merely being unavailable. The evasive man may tune out. He might say whatever he thinks his wife wants to hear at that moment, to prevent the boat from rocking, you see, and harbors no intention of actually following through.

To counter evasiveness, the emotionally eager wife will be prone toward responses such as crying, persuading, calling friends for support, acting moody, repeating the same requests, accusing, and giving up. Once the cycle gets going it can be difficult to break.

Factors Behind the Pattern

In my practice, I see seven factors that are very common in marriages affected by the evasive and the emotionally eager relationship patterns. As we examine them, you will see that this tug-of-war is not confined to a few households. It is widespread. I find this tension in the homes of driven, success-oriented people and in laid-back, take-it-easy relationships. Some of the participants have a history of poor relations with others, while some can point to great popularity with others.

If your husband will join you in the awareness process, that’s great! Use the information provided as a springboard for healthy, honest discussion. If he will not, and many won’t, choose to make yourself aware of what’s happening and grow anyway. One person working toward a healthy style of relating is better than no one at all taking steps.

Let’s look at the seven indicators:

1. Communication is reduced to power plays. If nothing else, evasive behavior creates a feeling of power. This concept of control and power-wielding can take some strange twists, and the people involved usually do not see it for what it is.

If the emotionally eager wife responds with her own overbearing style instead of understanding his fear of being controlled, she does the very thing that makes matters worse. She speaks coercively.

Perversely, even a caring husband derives a certain subconscious satisfaction when he witnesses his wife in great emotional distress. The underlying thought: You see? I do have power! I can control her emotions, and that’s not an easy thing to do. My tactics worked.

The more the wife registers anger or futility, the more likely the evasive husband will continue to respond with power tactics. His urgent, compelling need to keep the upper hand is satisfied. And I repeat, this is not necessarily deliberate. Usually, it is all going on in the darkest caverns of the mind.

2. He avoids commitment and personal accountability. A common complaint I hear from emotionally eager wives is that they cannot get a solid commitment to anything. Their man is hard to pin down.

Remember that evasive husbands unconsciously lust for power. They must maintain control. So it isn’t hard to see why they don’t want to be held accountable to specific plans. They have confused commitment with enslavement or coercion and wrongly assume the words mean much the same thing. They see simple requests, then, as attempts at coercion, and they circumvent them by remaining vague.

These men realize that accountability requires a certain amount of vulnerability, and that scares them. Clear communication, self-revelation, and openness: These qualities could boomerang on them, they fear. The evasive person also fears that his good nature will be taken advantage of, so he plays it safe by revealing the least amount that he can about his plans, his preferences, his feelings.

Although these men would never admit it even to themselves, they have made a commitment to dishonesty. Sometimes blatant lying is involved, as when a man says he will do something, knowing full well that he will not. But usually this dishonesty is more subtle. Without openly lying, these men try to create an illusion of cooperation when in fact they inwardly hope to blaze their own trails independently of their mates’ plans.

With this fear of accountability, these men fuel the wives’ worst fears of marital isolation. The men do whatever they must to keep a safe distance —exactly the opposite of what the emotionally eager wives are seeking. The men keep their feelings well hidden; the wives want feelings brought into view. The men think they dare not expose their preferences lest they be denied (in other words, the woman controls the situation through the power of choice). The women want more than anything else to know what their men want.

Needless to say, this factor of poor accountability works against the success of any relationship, for a thriving marriage needs sharing and openness in order to be truly fused into a unit.

3. Leadership roles are confused. With all this control jockeying and poor accountability, the third factor in these conflicted marriages isn’t hard to see: badly defined leadership roles. The evasive husband prefers to hold back and sidestep situations that will bring his wife’s criticism to bear, and that includes certain situations where his leadership would be expected. He may even coyly set her up to take the heat. That, you see, is real control!

Have either of these scenarios happened in your home?

• A child makes a request that Dad knows should be turned down, so he says, “Why don’t you ask your mother?” Let her be the ogre who denies the child’s wants.

• The husband hears someone reprimand his wife. This might be a stranger in public or his own mother in private. Instead of standing up for his wife, he remains silent even though he knows his wife feels abandoned.

These husbands know that the more leadership they exert, the more controversy they may encounter. It works that way in politics; it must work that way in marriage. Notice that the power plays are still going on.

But here we’re talking about open, visible leadership. Being chronic conflict avoiders, these men prefer to lie low and stay out of the fray. In the battle of the sexes, it’s a good way to keep your head from being shot off. They falsely assume that openness invites problems.

It’s that don’t-rock-the-boat thing again. Unfortunately, by backing away from the leadership role, these men are sacrificing the family’s long-term needs —a stable leader —for the short-term goal of peace-for-the-moment.

Interestingly, in many cases, men who back out of the leadership role in personal and family matters are anything but weak in business pursuits or civic projects.

1. Relationship is secondary to performance. Human beings err, make occasional wrong choices, and are occasionally selfish. In healthy marriages, the partners recognize this fact and allow plenty of room for open conflict resolution. Emotionally eager wives would welcome the chance to discuss problems. But because the evasive husband prefers to minimize his own emotional vulnerability, he customarily runs from the threat of having to struggle with emotions. Logic tells us that if a man is running away from something, he is also running toward something else. What is it that men run toward to avoid personal interactions? Performance.

Now, as a very general rule, men are performance-oriented anyway. Whereas women enjoy the process of doing something, men want to reach the goal as quickly and efficiently as possible and go on to something else. (Again, I remind you, there are plenty of exceptions to this.)

Commonly, evasive men will not mind giving time to an activity such as yard work, fishing, a project at the church. It’s familiar turf. They already know how to do those things. They’ll see a nice, neat, trimmed-up yard, the new church fence, perhaps a fish or two.something. But relationships require being not doing, an unsettling concept for many men.

2. Sexual relating is out of sync. Happy, growing marriages are typified by reasonable sexual communication. Although frequency is not the chief concern (some couples are satisfied with twice monthly sex, some enjoy it several times a week), union occurs frequently enough to remind the spouses of their love and commitment to each other. Sex is a means of maintaining secure bonding.

For evasive men, however, sex is intended not for bonding but for physical satisfaction and—here it is again—control. Who’s in the driver’s seat?

At one extreme, the evasive man abstains for long periods of time, showing virtually no interest at all in his wife sexually. He knows sex can bring out tender sharing, something he prefers to avoid. He determines that it is easier to deny the pleasures of sexual relating in order to avoid emotional intimacy. I have heard numerous accounts from women who are eager to be sexually involved with their husbands but are rebuffed for six months at a time, a year, or longer.

The more common extreme has the evasive man showing little tenderness during waking hours. When bedtime comes, his engine turns on, and he gets his satisfaction from his wife. Then he slips back into his comfortable shell. He may even turn on at two o’clock in the morning, make his move, then go back to sleep. This approach to sex neatly minimizes emotional intimacy without minimizing the feel-good experience. The wife’s emotions are hardly considered.

The emotionally eager wife, then, develops conflicting feelings about marital sex. Part of her wants it and sees it as a wonderful communication time, but she is afraid of the hurt that comes as she senses her husband is merely after physical relief.

Often, if this conflict goes on long enough, one spouse or the other may opt for an outside form of sexual satisfaction: an affair, pornography, or flirtations outside marriage. Either spouse can feel such strong disappointment as to be abnormally vulnerable to temptation.

3. Personal insights are unequal. Healthy people not only admit the need for improvement, they welcome the challenge. Growing people are willing to absorb insights and information. They actively seek out truth.

Evasive people are not inclined toward insight and awareness. Apart from the fact that it’s too much trouble for what you get out of it, the evasive husband really isn’t interested in being challenged on the personal, philosophical level. That makes him too vulnerable. He wants the comfortable routine, the level keel, putting little or no thought into the whys of life.

The emotionally eager wives are usually the type who devour self-help books, enjoy stimulating philosophical discussions, flock to seminars. They invite growth. They like being challenged about what can be done to create a fuller life and why they need to make the needed adjustments. Result: They grow and expand intellectually as their husbands tune in still another football game.

This eagerness does not always translate into significant change. Because of the wife’s tendency to play off her husband’s behavior —reacting instead of pro-acting —this woman eventually loses heart as she realizes that her efforts are not being matched by his. She begins to perceive that she’s outgrowing him. I’ve see many of these wives become increasingly agitated or collapse in despair or depression. Either way, the woman ought to press forward, gaining insight, regardless of her mate’s lack of interest.

4. Both sides feel victimized. Evasive husbands subconsciously live with a philosophy of “You leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone, and we’ll get along just fine.” The fewer challenges they encounter, the less conflict they experience, and the better they feel. The problem is that their spouses by nature yearn for a far more intimate pattern of relating.

The wife launches her various attempts to get the intimacy and depth she craves, protesting or cajoling or simply acting unhappy. The husband, turned off by his wife’s prodding, sulks and wonders, “Why do I have to live with this kind of stuff? She’s crabby for no good reason.”

Either unwilling or unable to grasp that he is contributing to the problem, he sees himself as a victim of unreasonableness. Victims are not cheerful people. The feel, if you will —of the household nose-dives as anger and sadness feed on each other.

The emotionally eager wife feels just as victimized. “When is all this misery going to end? Look what he’s doing to my life. It’s sterile! Going nowhere. Emotionally zip. When will he ever wake up, or is it always going to be this miserable?”

In a sense, there is truth to each mate’s feeling of victimization. Both spouses can point to evidence that this marriage has become something of a raw deal. Both can show legitimate ways in which the other spouse is contributing to the problem. Neither sees the whole picture. When either of them places all blame on the other partner, the “I’m a victim” attitude has gone too far.

Once this evasive pattern has become entrenched in a marriage, it is tempting to place full blame onto the shoulders of the husband who resists deep relating. Let’s say that, in certain instances, it’s true. He does need to change his ways of relating to his wife. His evasiveness damages and even destroys his position of influence in his own home. After all, God did not place us here on earth to avoid each other. We were made to relate first to God, then with family and friends.

Evasive behaviors are damaging not just to the wife but to the husband as well, preventing him from knowing the satisfaction God intended for him.

Beginning the Journey Toward Improvement

If you are the mate of someone who is non-communicative, realize that to some degree, the relational problems you’ve encountered are predictable. They show up in a lot of marriages. Also, there are some things of a general nature that you can do to ease them. For starters:

  • Quit assuming responsibility for your spouse’s imperfections. He may well say, “You make me this way with your constant [nagging, whining, whatever].” That’s not true, even though he may think it is. He would be acting the same way if he were married to someone else.
  • Ease up on your persuasive efforts to convince your mate to fit your mold. Coercion will only make the problem worse. This is hard to do when you desperately want change.

Down deep, you probably realize that no person is going to change, at least not effectively, based on someone else’s forceful persuasion. An evasive husband will amend his ways only if given the room to do so in his own will. That leaves the ugly prospect that he will choose not to. For now, it is wise to back off.

That does not mean that you quit doing anything. If you believe that your husband is ducking away from topics you are sure must be discussed, that he is becoming evasive in the midst of emotional exchanges, can you tell him about the frustration this creates without overworking the point or becoming confrontational? Everything will be working against you.

The heat of the moment makes a person say things she would not say at a less emotional time. And most of all, old habits die hard. You are accustomed to addressing an issue in a particular way now. It is exceptionally hard to change your approach. But it will pay dividends if you can do it. Personal soul-searching will help you turn things around and give positive traits to your marriage.

To get a good idea about how ready you are to do the soul-searching necessary for real growth, be aware of your use of one simple word. You. How often is that word spoken as you are trying to make sense of the tensions with your mate? I’m not suggesting that you should never be spoken. I am saying, though, that its overuse indicates that you are not looking inward.

In short, to improve your own satisfaction and happiness, a major step is to put your own house in order. You may find that the improvement in your life is just the catalyst your spouse needs. And even if you do not experience the adjustments in your mate that you have hoped for, you will still be a more stable and content individual. Are you willing to start with your own hard, inward search?

The emotionally eager wife will say, “Yes! Of course.” But then she amends that with a but. “I’m willing to adjust, but my husband needs to change.” Whether or not you are correct to say this, you are basing your happiness and responses on someone else’s behavior.

Your willingness to work on your own issues will be the key for finding personal peace, then potentially, success in that most important relationship, your marriage.

The above edited article came from the great book, Distant Partner written by Dr Les Carter, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers. The subtitle for the book is: “How to tear down emotional walls and communicate with your husband.”  As Dr Carter says in the beginning of the book, “I have written this book primarily for answer-seeking wives… I want you to understand why some husbands act evasively and maintain a certain distance from you. Most particularly, I want to show you what you can do to improve your emotional reactions to your husband.” We believe that obtaining this book would be an inexpensive way to start on a road to better understanding and working through issues that could greatly improve your relationship. Also, if you want to read this book along with your spouse (if he desires to do so) Dr Carter explains in the preface of the book the best way to do this.

— ALSO —

For additional help, Dr Richard Fitzgibbons offers insights into this difficult marital issue, as well as some practical tools to help you in the Maritalhealing.com web site article:

THE EMOTIONALLY DISTANT SPOUSE

And to help you even further, another book we recommend is Married…But Lonely (which many of you who have the ability can purchase through this Amazon link to obtain their discounts). It’s written by Dr David Clarke. Below is a link so you can read the first chapter of this book:

MARRIED BUT LONELY

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Comments

395 Responses to “The Emotionally Distant Husband”
  1. Deb from United States says:

    I have read nearly everything posted here in the comments. I have been married to my husband for nearly two years, but we’ve been together for nearly eight. Our relationship has always been rocky but lately I feel like I’ve reached the end of my ability to continue. I look at what it really means to live a life with him for the next several decades, and I’m not sure I can do it. We do not have children yet, we are both 29.

    I want to be loved by him, I want to be cherished and I want him to acknowledge the many things I do for him out of love, on a daily basis. He is emotionally distant, I am emotionally over eager, and we find ourselves in an ugly dance every time we argue and have conflict. He constantly says he feel unsafe with me… though never acknowledges the things he does that hurt me, nor considers where my anger at him stems from. I feel a little less alone after reading others’ stories. Thank you.

    • Jill from United States says:

      This sounds so much like my life with my husband right now. It hurts so much because I have given my all to him and feel like I’m getting nothing except jaded, something I’ve never been before (even after my first marriage ended). My husband left this morning on business and was so grumpy that I barely got a goodbye. He gave me an emotionless kiss, said sarcastically, “Thanks for everything sweetie. Love you. Have a good day”, grabbed his bag, and shut the door.

      I don’t understand why he doesn’t actually appreciate what I do for him. I’ve been trying to do more and more and all that seems to do is lead to more expectations from him, not more love. I can’t seem to build anything with him, it’s very frustrating. He was married before, too, and that ended badly. He’d been married for nearly 2 decades and I think he invested a bit more in her emotionally. He didn’t think that would end so he’s putting up more and more walls of defense against me instead of letting me in.

    • Cassie from United States says:

      I very much relate to what many of us are saying here on this website. I have been through 3 marriage counselors with my husband and 2 marriage classes trying to figure out how to cope. My 35 year-old husband spends most of his time doing things that make him feel good. He avoids all family responsibility aside from his skilled labor job. I work 50 hours a week, carpool my son to all of his childcare, make all the meals, do all the cleaning, pay all the bills, balance the banking, complete all the family paperwork, and organize all of the family activities. My husband literally sits on the computer playing video games and making comments on how we only have intimate time a few times a month (I’m typically intimate with him at least 2-3 times a week unless I’m sick or out of town).

      His distorted view of our marriage breaks my heart and I have become increasingly more parental towards him as a result. Even when I try to be overly compensating on praise and TLC it still never clicks for him that there is a give and a take. I am exhausted, frustrated, sad. When I bring these things up I get a variety of reaction. Over the last few months he has told me he is unattracted to me (that I’m a great businesswoman but not a great wife). He has told me that he loves me but is not in love with me. He has walked away from me mid conversation, or he tunes me out drinking and playing shooting video games on his PC. I have read the love languages, the John Gottman books, etc and I cannot get my husband to make the same commitment. I think it may be ending and no one is courageous enough to call it and allow ourselves to have a happy life.

      • Michelle from United States says:

        Hi Cassie! I completely understand. My husband just threatened me with divorce for the 4th time when just 2 weeks ago, we were happily in love and extremely connected. Each time this happens, I read all of the articles and books that I can and I am so thankful that I found this site. The articles have helped me a lot. After some soul searching, I realize that whether it’s intentional or unintentional, we have a power struggle going on in our marriage. I am dominant by nature and he is passive.

        Recently, he’s asked me to help him save money. When he got sucked into yet another hobby, he spent $1200 on Magic The Gathering cards in 2 weeks. He was down to his last $30 and didn’t want to tell me for fear that I would scold him or reject him, which I have never done. Regardless, it’s his perception. Our balance got uneven so he threatened divorce to get that balance of power back. At first, I pushed back. Now, I only react to him with love and respect. It seems to be working. His anger is much less than it was last week. Now, I have to try and get us reconnected again by doing things with him that make us feel like a team. Wish me luck!

      • Corrine from United States says:

        Don’t be parental towards him. Stop it! Stop doing what you do not have the desire to do. Start living your own life. Don’t respond to his threats, just continue to do what you think is right. It is not your job to lead him or make him do the right thing. God first, then your husband. Keep your vows, keep your emotions and desires in check and leave the rest up to him. If he chooses to go against God and his vows, it gives you the freedom to move on. It won’t be easy but either he’ll shape up or ship out.

    • Jenny from United States says:

      I got a book called How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich, after hearing them interviewed on Focus on the Family. It’s very, very helpful in explaining how everyone’s childhood impacts their love styles as adults. There are 5 types of people: Avoider, Vacillator, Pleaser, Controller and Victim. They have lots of examples and I felt like they had been present in some of my conversations because it was so accurate.

      The good news is, they talk about ways to improve your own communication patterns so that you can interact more effectively with your spouse. They believe that through prayer, and learning improved communication methods, a relationship can be improved. Even if you’re the only one making conscious changes, it creates a shift in the relationship.

  2. Sherry from United States says:

    My husband and I have been married for five years (next month). He was previously married to the love of his life, and the mother of his children, for sixteen years. In his mind, second wife means second best. His kids come first, then his ex-wife, then his parents, then his job (he travels so frequently I only see him 5 days out of the month). I come last, always.

    He says he loves me, I just feel like he loves being married to someone who nurtures him, cooks for him, does his laundry, and is his companion at HIS convenience. At this moment, he is out of state visiting his oldest child at college -after I begged him not to go, because his ex-wife is trying to serve him yet another Contempt of Court order (he pays her over $1,000 a month, but she wants more -and she’s a millionaire). He has been in jail six times; she is trying to put him there again. I have dealt with her psychopath drama for so many years that I honestly don’t even care if he goes to jail again.

    He is good to me as far as being a roommate and best friend goes. He is capable of being kind to me. However, the minute his ex, or his kids, or his parents call -even on my birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas, or his birthday -no matter what I had planned, how much money I have spent, how disappointed and hurt I am that he puts his own needs over mine, he will drop me like a hot potato and do what HE wants to do.

    He acknowledges that he has “caused me pain” over the years, and apologizes when he does me wrong -then he turns around and does it all over again the next time someone else (besides me) wants something. I am NEVER first. He expects me to still be there waiting for him when he is finished doing what HE wants to do, after he has stood me up, disrespected me, and hurt me -then he has the nerve to get mad when I try to explain how upset I am, as if it’s MY fault.

    His parents still have pictures of the ex-wife all over their house, including their wedding pictures, and family pictures of him, her, and the kids. I have told them how much this upsets me, and they acknowledged it, but do nothing about it. I have not been in their house in over a year. They send her Mother’s Day, Christmas, and birthday cards, but not me. They have no pictures of me in their house, even though I sent them one of him and me a week after we were married. I told my husband he is a coward for refusing to stand up for me and allowing them to disrespect me. He agrees with me that what they’re doing is horrible, but will not tell THEM that.

    He is very physically affectionate, always hugging me. His love language is Physical Touch. I respect that. However, my love language is Words of Affirmation. I NEVER get what I need from him. He uses the excuse that he is not a verbally expressive person. I am not a physically expressive person, but I suck it up and do it for him because I know that is what he needs, but he will not extend the same courtesy to me.

    In bed, having sex with him is like having sex with the Terminator – human flesh on the outside, but a cold, dead, emotionless machine on the inside. He’s great at it physically, but many times I end up feeling used and resentful, like I am nothing more to him that a live blow up doll.

    I want a divorce, I have told him I want a divorce -and the reasons why -and have even filed for divorce. The only problem, in today’s economy, I cannot afford to live alone. So I have to suffer and live with a man who only loves me as a buddy, not a wife. He is not, nor has he ever been in love with me. I’m to the point that I barely even like him.

    • Lynn from United States says:

      That sounds awful. What a terrible marriage to endure every day. What you described reminds me of my ex. I also stayed with him too long due to financial worries. My family is distant and they do not support me, and it’s difficult for a single woman and especially a single mother to survive out there in the economy.

      But after a while, I started to feel like I would rather be homeless than stay with him. Being homeless would be more peaceful than suffering every day in a miserable relationship. He told me I was selfish and it’s all about me and my feelings because I told him that I’m not getting what I need emotionally from him. He would be completely SILENT during dinners, and he would get angry and yell at me if I asked him questions that he didn’t like. When I tried to work through issues with him, he would hang up on me. I had my part in the problems too, but when he refused to talk to me it hurt terribly. I once cried so hard that my nose started bleeding.

      Satan traps us with fear. I have to remind myself that Jesus is my security, not some emotionally unavailable man. I finally had to step out in faith because I couldn’t take it anymore. I would go without eating for days from the stress and become physically sick. I am sure God doesn’t want that kind of life for His children. It’s hard being alone, and I still worry, but I know that God will help me through it. If He fed the multitudes with five loaves, He can surely help single and struggling women, one day at a time.

      I know it’s hard to see clearly when you’re in the middle of it, but as an outsider and someone who went through similar problems, it’s clear to see that you are being deprived of what you need in your marriage. You seem like a nice lady, and I pray that God shows you the right solution.

      • J.M.P from United States says:

        I live this life everyday. Some more than others. What makes it different for me? I’ve been married over 20 yrs. The last 6 months have been pure hell. I made up a saying “I like walking on the grass because it feels so soothing, so why am I walking on eggshells?” The evasiveness is pure Emotional Abuse or the gateway to a Transactional Marriage. Get Help A.S.A.P! I’m in therapy right now. It’s helping me deal with it.

  3. Hipster from United Kingdom says:

    How do you learn to live with someone so different from yourself? My husband was loving, giving, caring and my hero until he started spending money we didn’t have, and lying and even texting other women. This behaviour went on for 6 years; we split for 2 years and then with all the promises to change we reconciled. Again he was the person I met and fell in love with but he was still lying and spending up until about 18 mths ago.

    Although I can never be sure if he’s ever not doing anything destructive, I know I’ve fallen into the anger trap because he makes sure I stay there in his comfort zone. I struggle to get out and he pulls me back in. I challenge him more now and it doesn’t go down well. When I sort myself out he brings out his old self and back we go into the unhealthy pattern; he acts like a jerk and I react badly until I get control over myself again. I feel like a yoyo.

  4. Victoria from United States says:

    My husband and I have been together for five years and married one. We have been raising my nephews off and on for four years of our relationship. Their mother is off doing whatever she pleases but this is a stress on us. We have somehow started only having sex a few times a month and I hate it. But on top of that I work a night shift job, not at my choice, and it takes away from my time with my family.

    I feel emotionally detached from him. I’ve tried talking to him but it always ends up in a fight. I love him with all my heart and soul and I know he loves me; it’s just hard for me to just hear it. I want him to show me and he says, I do; we just had sex; lol it’s not funny. But that’s my husband. There are times when I feel I have become content with our life and all it’s crap but I know I haven’t really. We want it to be just us again but we know we can’t have that right now and probably not anytime soon.

    I am only 21 and he is 25 and we live life like we are in our thirties. We are in a rut in life and I need help getting us out. I can’t do it alone. I know this. I’m working on getting him to come around to help me but I need help doing just that; like I could do this and try that or approaching it from his point of view. But I’ve done it all. I’ve tried it all, at least I think I have. My husband is a typical man. He really is I mean. He is what all women say their husbands or their boyfriends are but they really have no idea!

    I don’t know what I’m to do about my family life or my relationship with my husband. I really need help! He will not go to counseling cuz he says there’s no need to pay someone to fix something that isn’t broken. I don’t know what to do. Is it just me or am I going freakin crazy? I’ve prayed and prayed. I’ve asked my mother who is in heaven to help me and nothing has changed yet. Someone please help me, please!???!!

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Victoria, I’d like to ask you a few questions first for clarification so I (and hopefully others) will know better how to respond to your pleas. First, what country do you live in and are you both from that country? Also, is there any chance your husband is into social media big time, perhaps involving porn or cybersex, visiting chatrooms, or such? And, do you have any other family members that can help you sometimes with your nephews (taking them for a night here and there or so)? If you work nights, what time of the day or night does your husband work –the same time frame or different?

  5. Tom from South Africa says:

    Hi, i read this artile with hopes to learn and perhaps deal better with my family. I have been married for just over a year now and it seems the relationship is just becoming unbearable. I did not know that women get more emotionally eager just after getting married, because we were co-habiting for 2 years before we got married and never had these issues. I guess I was naive to think things will be the same after marriage.

    Now that things are worse I desparately need practical solutions to remedy my new family. I admit that I have been distant from my wife because she seemed to be negative, dragging me to negativity. I thought she only looked at thing that are wrong without acknowledging the many things that are going right. I honestly don’t know how to be that kind of a person. I’m the kind of person who focuses more on possitive things in life because that makes me appreciate life. Turning my focus to negative things will only make me miserable or depressed.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Tom, I don’t know what country you live in, but if it’s possible, there’s a good book that I recommend you get on this issue. It’s written by Dennis Prager, and it’s titled, Happiness Is a Serious Problem. This book has really changed my view of “happiness” and being negative because the world appears to be negative. Dennis has a radio program that I listen to each day (when I can) and on Friday’s he has what’s called “the Happiness Hour” where he focuses on different aspects of happiness. As a matter of fact, you can watch a little preview of this book and the subject on a YouTube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8uJQUdR3kc. I hope you (and your wife) will watch this short clip. It might whet the appetite to learn more.

      Now, I’m not talking about giddy, fake happiness (and neither is Dennis). And I’m certainly not talking about the immoral “God just wants me to be happy, so I should leave my spouse because I’m not happy in my marriage.” That’s a crock of garbage. But if you listen to and read what Dennis says about looking towards and focusing on the brighter side of life (there is one if you look for it as gold) instead of focusing on negativity, it’s amazing how much better life can be for all. I learned this BIG TIME! I come from a family of negative relatives. My mom’s side of the family were/are mostly sad-sacks. It’s a whoa-is-me type of existence. And I’ll tell you, you can only take so much of that negativity and you want to run as fast as you can away from them at times. I love them, but enough is enough! We all have problems… that doesn’t mean we have to wallow in them.

      I hope you can eventually help your wife to look towards the brighter side of life, for the most part. It took years before my Dad was able to get my mom to do this and years before I “got it” as far as not focusing on the negative –dealing with it, yes… but not staying there and inflicting it on others with a sour-puss outlook on life day in and day out. We have some BIG problems going on in our lives right now, but my husband and I refuse to stay focused on that, which we can’t change. We look to the Lord to guide us through them and look for the joy that is around us to focus on. I pray your wife eventually is able to get there too. I hope you are able to (gently) help her get there, as well. It will bring you all the more closer together.

  6. Monica from United States says:

    I have been married to my husband for almost four years, but we’ve been together for about seven. We have almost four children together. I say almost four because next week I am expected to birth our fourth. I was a typical daydreaming woman, thinking that having my schooling in order and being married and having a family would bring me everything I had always wanted, a nice close and solid relationship with my children and my husband.

    I am an emotionally eager woman; I have had attachment issues since I was a child due to a traumatic experience in my adoption situation. I have had people in and out of my life emotionally and I have a lot of anger I work on resolving because of it. I’m tired of people not realizing how much they hurt me by not being there. So the only person left I still hold to a standard really is my husband, my life partner and father of my kids. Sometimes I feel very foolish; I feel foolish because I expect him to be more understanding, sensitive, compassionate, more tender and affectionate, and he tells me “you knew what kind of man I was when you met me” meaning he is basically none of those things.

    The thing is that when I met him he was definitely more of those things than he is now. He works very hard, and allows me to stay home with our children, which is something I cherish as a huge gift. Sometimes he makes me feel lazy and suggests I need to be working to help with our income, although all of our needs are met with his income alone. He is climbing the corporate ladder and I’m trying so hard to be supportive of him even though he doesn’t support my dreams or visions. He has told me my dreams aren’t logical, they are unrealistic, and that the scope of them has brought him fear and anxiety in the past.

    I am a dreamer. I have big dreams and goals and was headed in those directions when I met him. I feel resentful that I’ve kind of given those up because I don’t have the support I wish I had from him. He wants this to be our last child, and I’m resentful because I feel that he has never “been there” emotionally for me during my pregnancies. He has always jerked his hand away when I put his hand on my stomach to feel the baby move, saying it felt weird and that he couldn’t emotionally connect to our baby until it was born. I’ve been left to waddle through the hormonal changes of pregnancy myself and felt at fault for being too sick or too tired during or after the pregnancies to amount to his expectations.

    I resent sex with him because I don’t believe in hormonal birth control, and he doesn’t want any more kids yet tells me I run the sex schedule. I resist sex because I also feel that it is fulfilling him physically and my emotional needs are not met. It is very hurtful and hard to be in this position because I love my husband with my whole heart and our family but I feel despair when I think of continuing a relationship like this for the rest of my life. I want my kids to see an energized, encouraged, lively woman in their life who shows them how to shoot for the stars because she is optimistic. I write in a Mr/Mrs journal I purchased a while ago to write openly to my husband and he to me about our issues and feelings, and he never writes in it unless I remind him after I’ve written about an issue I’m upset about. I knew marriage wouldn’t be easy, but I just want to feel loved, appreciated, to have him be grateful for my sacrifices and my efforts to please him. I want to feel cherished and beloved. And I don’t think he’s capable of making those changes on his own. I feel lost as to what to do and frustrated.

  7. TooOld from United States says:

    Hi, just came across this and need advice. I’ve been married over 20 years to a guy who’s a “man’s man” – has his own interests and is true to himself (regardless of the hurt it may cause others). The first few years of our marriage weren’t bad, although I did have to ask/cry/breakdown for sex, I kept thinking it would change.

    Fast forward, we had 2 kids, and things never changed. In fact, my oldest was the one who discovered dad’s Internet history of lots of porn sites and dad chatting away when I wasn’t home. I got him to a counselor once or twice, where he admitted he doesn’t know why he married me. I’ve worked on myself for 5 years now, thinking that at some point things would get better. What has gotten better is my own hope to separate from him so that I can live a life that accomplishes without dampening.

    Unfortunately, my youngest is still in high school. My oldest is going to college this fall. I feel guilty about the horrible example of marriage that they’ve grown up with. Our house is full of anger (my husband’s technique is to be angry and/or stonewall –will not discuss anything -ever) when my husband is home. While he’s a helpful man (cooks, does shopping, helps clean sometimes), emotionally it’s often challenging to anticipate his moods and to suppress my own desires (we don’t have sex and haven’t for 5+ yrs) (asking for home improvements makes him angry, same with car issues).

    I promised God to stay with him forever, and it feels like the lonely life sentence. I’m not sure even what I want any more. It just seems like the easiest and most sane thing to do is to leave. He won’t go to counseling. Would going to a counselor help (I have been, 5 years ago in the porn discovery, and then a year+ class for spouses of porn addicts)?
    I just feel stuck. Thanks.

  8. Peter from United States says:

    Thanks for this article. I am a man who realized I fit into this mold. I hope it’s not too late to save my marriage. It’s close, I’m just not sure. My wife says I broke her heart, and I did. We’re moving forward, communication is extremely hard, but I’ve spent the last 6 months in therapy. I’ve dealt with my demons. I’ve come to the other side, I know what they are and how they have affected my relationship. I am 43 and wife 38, we have two kids 7 and 4.

    We are both trying to make amends and come out the other side, yet it’s hard. I’ve started to pay more attention, lose weight (22 lbs so far), treat her better, and give her more respect and support.

    We had communication problems in our relationship and I had self worth issues, so together after losing a job, things started to fall apart. It’s sad. Now I’m at a stage where I’ve stopped pleading (by actions) for her to return to me as my wife in spririt (we both live in the same home) to one of action. But an action of purpose. Realizing what I’ve done, making changes, and projecting a new image, not for her to remain, but for me to show I am growing into a better man.

    I’ve begun to be present in the relationship, learning how to latin dance (her favourite), being more communicative, thoughtful, and put together things to show her I do love her for who she is, and not because I need her to be a mother figure…

    That said… Most of the respondents to this email are women. What would you like to see? Spell it out, not for the sake of doing it, but for a way to really see real examples of what would you wish to see your husbands do or wish they would have done to save your marriages…

    By saving the marriage, I don’t want to go back to the good times, because those were just that good. There were relationship problems then, I want us to be great. That means taking the steps now to make it so and growing our relationship into something new, stronger, healthier, with outlet valves to reduce steam when needed. Any advice would be appreciated…

    • Pam from United States says:

      Peter, Keep trying! Try to discover what makes your wife “feel” loved. Is it gifts? Sex? Verbal acknowledgment? Time for herself? I read a book once that stated everyone has “love buckets”… I think it was the “Five Love Languages”. Find out what hers is and try fill it. Personally, I feel like actions speak louder then words. You wrote that you have tried to make changes in yourself and you should be proud of that.

      When you ask her what she needs to move forward in the relationship what does she say? That’s the answer to your question. If she doesn’t know the answer, give her time & support to find the answer. Maybe she doesn’t know what will really make her happy… and if she doesn’t know how are you to know? Be patient & Good Luck!

    • Harriet from United States says:

      Peter, I was pleased to read a post from a husband on this website. I just found this article today. I’m an over eager or I guess, the emotionally trying or changing partner. I’ve been married for 12 years to my husband and we’ve been trapped in a pattern of co dependence and low self worth. I’m emotionally expressive, I’m an extrovert, he’s an introvert and socially very shy. I’m ambitious and driven, so is he, but he doesn’t take risks and is resentful at times for my successes. We are both creatives but even though I am also as insecure as he is, I’m fearless (because I’m competitive) when it comes to putting myself out there; where he is not.

      In sum, I’m constantly trying to work on myself through CBT and therapy. He feels there is nothing wrong with him- I am the sick one; he’s the adult. Unfortunately, he’s also chronically depressed but refuses to deal with it and is evasive, doesn’t ever want to rock the boat; and though he tries to make me happy, or says he tries to make me happy, he mostly is just ingnoring our issues and wants to pretend he didn’t hurt me for four years acting out in our marriage. He has acknowledged his mistakes but wants me to get over it now; I realize now, I did not work through it, just shoved it down inside me – and as we tried to recover the last four months, and as we have tried to heal and get closer, those wounds are fresh for me.

      As we get closer I become vulnerable and scared and think he’s lying again. Old hurts surface. Adding to the mix is when discord erupts, he blames me that I’m causing the friction and that he’s not being evasive or avoiding things- but he is, unfortunately. He says I’m creating drama that doesn’t exist. Maybe he’s right. He doesn’t want to listen to me or my recovery or my thoughts or growth or revelations. I ask him about himself but he doesn’t share.

      Now to you- I can’t tell you how to make your wife feel safer or better -or how to make your marriage greater- you should ask her. For me, I like to talk – a lot, about feelings and all kinds of other things. I don’t necessarily want fancy vacations… or cooking classes together and all that stuff. I want my husband to listen to my newest philosophical problem with a concept I’m dealing with in one of my paintings. Not to solve it, but to listen. Or actually, care about it, because I deeply care about his passions.

      I want everyday acts of intimacy and kindness or thoughtfulness. Like for example, if my husband gets up in the morning first, he makes the coffee, and maybe he sets out a cup for me too. Or even better, if he knows my schedule for the day, he brings me a cup and wakes me up if I haven’t gotten up because my alarm clock hasn’t gone off because I forgot to set it–I do those things for him. Or, maybe he gets the kids up and helps get them ready or makes them breakfast so I’m not running around trying to get them ready- making myself late for work. Often times my spouse sits outside in the garden reading or playing video games on his iPad while I’m in the house getting the kids ready – leaving me with the burden of the kids, all the while I have to juggle the lunches and everything else. It just makes it feel like we’re not a team.

      In the end, most wives want what they’re calling “the new man” which is an equal partner in the marriage. Someone once stated that if we all have a house, and each of us have rooms in our houses, one for work, one for sport, one for friends, we ought to let our spouses into those rooms openly, not be shut down. Because if you don’t let your wife in, she’s standing outside like a stranger, feeling unappreciated, in the cold, resentful and hurt or worse, rejected, confused when spouses want physical attention. But the prevailing message most wives receive is that if men let the wives in, the wives will rule or control those rooms.

      Guess what? We won’t. We’re just insecure because we adore and love our husbands and want to make them happy- undeniably. We think you’re going to cheat or watch porn or lose interest as we age and divorce us and leave us high and dry for a younger version of us- and we’ve screwed ourselves because of our careers and taking care of the kids. We’ll never earn as much… and so we desperately want to connect emotionally to you -want some sign that you truly love us for us as women, not as objects; respect us despite our emotional complexities.

      Anyway, I don’t know if any of this helps… Maybe none of it!

    • Jenn from United States says:

      Peter, Just the fact of your open and honest interest in making changes in how the two of you interact, is beautiful! Remember to not bend over too far to “become” what you believe she wants. Any changes you make in yourself that are only to please someone else will not last and end up being a double betrayal.

      I would bet money that your wife wants a husband who listens (you’re actively learning to do that) but also takes what he hears his wife and children say and uses it to LEAD, not in the sense of bossing or controlling, in the sense of guiding and guarding.

      Also, something I heard several years ago that blew my mind because it was SO TRUE to my heart is, a woman’s children are an extension of her. Treat the children like you treat your wife. When you hurt them with your own issues, you hurt her to the core.

      That’s not to say that she doesn’t also do things that hurt them and maybe she doesn’t even realize it. Don’t tell her straight out, that is like blowing holes in her soul. Ask her why she does it and then model a better choice with them in a similar situation. Even be willing to step into situations that she doesn’t handle well with them. Again, LEAD by guarding and guiding. And PRAY PRAY PRAY. You have the ability to be everything your family needs you to be, and be joyful because of it!

    • HCBS from United States says:

      If you were my husband I would want you to ask me how I feel… ask me how my day was, and then listen and act like you care when I answer. (Please turn down the TV and look at me when we’re talking) Find out (ask me, pay attention to my response) what gives me pleasure sexually and do it EVERY TIME, so I am not left aroused, but unfulfilled. Realize that as a stay at home mom I work every bit as hard, if not harder than you do, but I don’t get any praise from adults, nor do I get a paycheck for my work. YOU are the only possible source of praise or appreciation I’ll get for rearing your children, so PLEASE acknowledge my efforts occasionally. Tell me I look nice, or I’m pretty, or you find me attractive. A little goes a long way, I promise! Don’t treat me like a maid. Talk to me about your work. Tell me about your good and bad days. Plan a date… nothing fancy, just ask me out to dinner or a movie. Tell me you love me.

  9. Mary from United States says:

    I’ve read this article and this is my husband spot on. His idea of intimacy was self-release and no concern other than that. It’s a wonder we’ve been together 17 years. When our children were born, I thought he would be a great dad. As it turned out he’s only been a father who doesn’t involve himself with his son’s lives. It was me who diapered them, fed them, sat with them while they were sick.

    Now they are nearly grown, he sees them as a tool to help with his activities. My husband is disabled, hence this is where our sons come into the picture. He’s a sports fanatic, and travels as often as he can to participate in disabled sports events. My sons come into play to help with his luggage and such, as I used to do until I just gave up. He’s so friendly and outgoing with his friends and sports contacts; he jokes with them and discloses his dreams and goals, but with myself and our sons, there is no such conversations. It’s like he is two different people in one body. Conversation between my husband and myself runs like this, “Honeee, can you; would you; get the boys to do…” Sure he is disabled, but he is not helpless. He does for himself perfectly well when traveling alone.

    I too have fallen into the trap of the you did, you won’t, why can’t you… About a month ago before reading this, I decided to work on me, and stop with the you-you-you stuff as it never has, and never will get me anywhere, even though I’ve given my all to him, and he acknowledges that fact with an almost whiny ‘Thank you’ when I do things for him. I’ve realized he has been and still is using his disability and focus on sports as a way of avoiding any emotional dealings which makes things more simple for him, but leaves me extremely frustrated. If I focus on my happiness of mind and my relationship with our children, maybe he will get curious and actually start engaging with his family instead of seeking to hide himself away from the ones that love him the most.

  10. Charis from Greece says:

    Hi, I am married 8 years with a man who always says he loves me. He is faithful; he cares for me more than anything but he simply doesn’t ever satisfy my emotional needs. That lead us after all those years with me not sexually wanting him much… We still had sex and we had sex often, but for me it wasn’t much. I wasn’t chasing him, I was cold. I cannot chase a man who I don’t take back emotional satisfaction from. He doesn’t give me verbal attention at all.

    Every time I want to show him something that I made, when I talk about things I am thinking, he’s always either tired or he cannot talk at the moment or he just listens and I feel like I’m talking to a wall, actually either talking to a wall or my husband–it is the same thing… And this is going on for many years, and he wasn’t always working. There were periods where he was unemployed, resting and he was doing the same thing always, ignoring me.

    We went through really hard financial problems. We got over them, but he’s never emotionally feeding me the way I need. I’m a person who likes verbal compliments, who likes when he comes home to ask me how I’m doing, to ask me about my new work, to smile at me and give me a little attention. He NEVER does this. I’ve lost sexual interest completely.

    So I caught him on a dating site… I saw all of his messages. He didn’t do anything, and there wasn’t any sexual messages at all but I was shocked. I thought I would get a heart attack. I was ready to divorce him and he was begging me, promising me he now understands my needs and will change and all that stuff. So I showed him that if I feel that I get attention I can be a very sexual person. So all day I was chasing him, and we had fun and then the next day he was back to his regular self. I tried to talk to him about my stuff, and he replied to me “I’m tired, can we talk later on” with his nasty way. He wasn’t like a loving person to tell me nicely, he was mean and reacted like I annoyed him.

    Not only did I go through a shock few days ago seeing his profile on a dating site, not only did I cry for 2 days and I felt like my heart got ripped out, not only did I find the strength to forgive him and make a new start, he dared to tell me he is tired. When I complained about it, he just said, that I’m mean, I’m crazy, and that I should stop yelling and complaining.

    But it’s not just that, I realize that I’m not happy in general. I’m not happy when someone treats me like I’m not important. I need a verbal and intellectual relationship. He only likes to work, have sex, have me be his porn woman that he learned watching from the age of 13 and that’s it. He thinks just because he works and he says sometimes he loves me is enough and I should be all over him. And the funny part is I work as well, and I work many hours and I am tired as well. I also have needs and sexual ones that he doesn’t satisfy for 8 years… but I didn’t want to make a profile on a dating site. I don’t go out seeking attention. I’m faithful. And I have talked to him about my needs more than once. He just chooses to ignore them. He says he will change, that I am right, that he feels he failed and he will make me happy and all that stuff and then boom, back to his old classical sarcastic ways like I annoy his talking to himself. I’m very upset, should I just finish this marriage?

    I don’t want to have kids with someone who opens an account on a dating site and jeopardizes our relationship like that. He swears he did it just to get some attention and he would never go out with anyone. Lets say I believe this, still… what if a woman was giving him attention and then he goes out with her, and then what if this woman was one of those women who seduces a man, and takes all their money? I have also money in our bank account.

    It’s not just the “cheating” factor. I’m a grown up and I will get over this. It is that he places himself on such a situation of being vulnerable and refuses to change himself, to give and in my turn to give back… he just really refuses to do such a thing and then he justifies his actions that it’s my fault.

  11. Ndapraise from Namibia says:

    I have a husband who is not here because he is working far away and now I want him to be with me at home and feel love together. But because of distance we cannot fulfill our daily love together. Help me out. He wants to drop work and come home but because of financial problems we will not cover all our expenditures if he is not working.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      This is a really tough situation to be in. The best I can encourage you to do, is do the best you can under the circumstances and proactively work on changing them in the future. We have several articles in the “Assorted Marriage Issues” topic, which deals with the spouse being away. If you read and glean through them they will point out ways you can still stay in touch that is at least better than nothing. Look to see what will work for you.

      We have a son and daughter in law and two grandkids that live on the other side of the world. We miss them terribly! We haven’t been with them for over a year and a half. But we’ve learned of different ways, such as Skyping and such that does at least help. It’s not the same as being able to hug and be together, but it’s better than nothing. The articles for you to read that I’m referring you to, give quite a few tips, which might help in different ways if you apply them.

      And then if it’s possible, determine which of you needs to move to the town that the other is in the future. Try to get enough money together so that spouse can “visit” when it’s possible and spend the time applying for work in the area. Be creative; persevere and keep trying. Do what you can from a distance to find ways to stay close emotionally and do what you can to find a way so that eventually one of you can move geographically to be with each other physically. That seems to be the best you can do. Ask God to guide you in all of this to open the right doors as you seek Him and seek to do as He shows you. I hope this helps.

  12. Lynn from United States says:

    Before finding this site, I was thinking my husband was having an affair, although he doesn’t have any of the obvious signs. After reading this, Im sure he is emotionally detached and controlling. We have been married 27 years and he has never been one to talk about his feelings but everything was “ok” until I started making more money than him (for the last 5 yrs).

    I take responsibility for potentially neglecting him while I furthered my career but what husband doesn’t want to have sex with his wife? Ok, I put on a few pounds over the years and have recently lost 20 of the 35 but still he has no desire. We went 6 months without any intimacy recently and then only because I initiated it. When I tried to talk to him about it he said I’m controlling and judgmental and he feels like he is walking on pins and needles around me.

    We are trying to have more open discussions about each other’s needs but so far we haven’t seen any positive results from these conversation. It doesn’t help that I travel every other week for work. I think the biggest issue is the money (again he has no symptoms of an affair, no unexplained spending, absences, change in schedules –even when I am gone), no change in appearance, cell usage etc (and I have checked them all and since we have cameras on all of our entries, I know when he leaves, gets home and who comes over).

    I think the money issue makes him feel less of a man and because I’m quite independent. I assume he thinks I don’t need him for anything so the one thing he can offer, he controls –intimacy! Yes, lonely in the United States, he won’t go to counseling so I’m considering separation. Our one child is grown and gone. These are supposed to be the “happy times” with bills paid and nothing but possibilities… go figure. We make it 27 years and then my husband turns into a roommate.

  13. Maggie from South Africa says:

    Although I have read all this and there are many positive points it makes me feel as if I should quit while I’m still sane. My husband was amazing when we first met then he became abusive controlling and a brut of sorts. He has never taken responsibility for the cruel things he did to me. He is no longer abusive but fits the profile of the man described in this article to a T.

    I have tried everything including acting as if nothing is ever wrong, ignoring, doting, seeing to his every whim, talking, showing all/no emotion and none of it has worked. We are now so disconnected that I feel as if we just co habitate. He has told me that there is a huge rift between us and he wishes we could be close like when we met, that time of our lives feels to me as if it were a dream, some sort of fantasy, as if it had never been a reality. He finds fault in everything I do and don’t do. He refuses to go to counseling and refuses to split. I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place. He seems to all family and friends the perfect partner and even cares for his ex more then I would like but towards me he is cold as ice, hard and frankly killing every ounce of love I have left.

  14. Maria C from United States says:

    I feel related in every point you made in this article. I’m married for five years and I have two young children. Now, I’d like to know what to do to save my marriage because most of the time I’m in a desperate place on the edge of depression for not knowing what to do. Thanks.

  15. Joe from United Kingdom says:

    This is almost what is happening to me and my wife at the moment. An eye opener for me. I assumed that I was doing everything for my wife but I think I now realise that I’m becoming evasive. It’s just 3 years since we’re married. I really would like to be what my wife wants me to be but it’s a battle for me to deal with emotions. She is way too emotional and I think I’m like a rock (without emotions). Thanks for this post. I see things a bit differently now.

  16. Misty from United States says:

    I been married for 10 years, and we have had our promblems. An the beginning it was really good, like a honeymoon stage. We go to a really good church. The pastor has talked to both of us, and my husband has backslidden and has done some awful things. We have three children. This is my first time being married. I forgive him but really now I just want out. I’m trying to make it work but my husband had a bad childhood. My husband needs to go to couesling, or I said I would leave. But he is not a person to talk about his problems. I just thought if he could talk about things to a complete stranger. I don’t believe in him needing depression pills. He hard worked. I have no job, but I’m going to school, just seems like he changed. He runs to his family. They are such bad a influence, I don’t know what I’m going to do.

  17. Lucy from United Kingdom says:

    I don’t know what to say except I’m at my wits end. My fiancé (not married yet) although together 6 years is an emotional robot. I’ve spent so long trying to change him that I’ve pushed him further away. He says he loves me and we will be fine if we can judt relax, watch tv, talk about normal things instead of all these long conversations about “US” and how to improve “US”… If it weren’t for my son and the fact I have no family or friends to turn to I think I would walk. As much as I love him I think I would. He is totally shut off from me now. Maybe he doesn’t love me he just doesn’t have the guts to admit it. Lucy xxx

  18. Mel from United States says:

    I can so relate to this. After 12 years of living with an evasive bf, I’ve given up on changing his behavior and started the process of healing myself and getting financially stable enough to move on. Do I love him? Yes, absolutely, always will. But it’s painfully obvious that he has no capacity or desire to be in an adult relationship. He has so many ego issues, on top of lack of motivation to be successful.

    There is a time you have to face facts. You can’t change people to be emotionally connected. Truthfully, I didn’t expect that as much as I expected him to be a provider and protector. He gets sick enjoyment out of watching me be in that role. Then when people are watching, he’ll act as if he’s the one. I used to keep my mouth shut and allow him to take credit. Not anymore! While I’m careful not to humiliate him, I don’t cover for his evasive behavior. I point it out when he does it, and ask him point blank if he enjoys having people make decisions for him? I’ve also stopped doing his basic living stuff, like cooking and laundry, unless he asks, and says thank you. He actually tried to “punish” me by not eating the lunches I packed for him. I stopped buying food altogether! You can’t be bullied or “punished” by these types unless you allow it. And when I’m ready to leave, and he asks why, I’ll sit him down and let him read this. Men have no excuses to act ignorant about why they can’t have healthy relationships with the internet available.

    • Patty from United States says:

      I too have been in a relationship with an emotionally detached boyfriend. I’ve cried, screamed, left, came back you name it. But it only changed when I stopped talking and making plans/threats. One day I finally found strength and wisdom. I didn’t have immediate plans, but I had determination. I stopped just talking and made a real statement. My body language and demeanour all changed to. First of all, I called it like it was. I explained that we were having an unemotionally detached relationship. I apologized for taking it personally before, which I had. I further explained that I had matured and grown to realize that the emotional detachment had nothing to do with me. The emotional detachment was something that was a part of him before he even knew me.

      I explain that I loved him – which I honestly do, but that we had to make changes. I was careful in not saying “you.” In addition, I said and meant that if we didn’t work on this then I would be making changes on my own. You see I had finally realized that my happiness nor self worth was a reflection on me. When I was rejected emotionally over and over, it didn’t mean I was unloveable, not beautiful, unworthy. Before this moment I believed those things and it made the pain worse and our relationship more out of control.

      So with true confidence (I don’t know where I found it) I stated my worth and value along with the problem of his being unemotional. I apologized again and said I can’t be with someone that doesn’t make me feel like I’m the most important and the most beautiful person in the world. You see everyone deserves that one person that can make them feel that way. You are the most important person in my life along with being the best looking. However, you failed to make me feel important, loved and protected. These are the basic needs of a woman and it’s tragic that you failed me.

      Needless to say I got a response. Finally a real response. He said, “well I guess I’m going to have to work on that.” I didn’t say anything this time. Roles are reversed. After wait time he said I guess actions speak louder than my weak words! Maybe – just maybe – he is getting it. For his sake I hope so! This girl has found strength and the only way to keep me is to make me feel like the most important and beautiful woman in the world!

      • Patti from United States says:

        I’ve been married for nearly 35 years. In the early years I recognized that something critical was missing from our relationship (I couldn’t identify it). As time went on, we started a business and raised a family. That “something that was missing” got worst and began to show itself in a lack of true intimacy in our marriage. I didn’t realize for many years, that what I was actually dealing with was a man so fearful of emotional connection that he’d go to any extreme to avoid it. Not knowing that, I played into the role that if this way didn’t work, try something else. We went to several counselors, nothing helped. He was willing to go but not willing to do the work. It all just looked good as long as he could say “Well, I trrrried”. I nearly drove myself crazy, like a mad woman, trying to connect to this person.

        I’m fully aware that it was not all him. Of course, many times I could have responded differently, with less intensity or directness as that is what still deflates him.

        Several times I’ve thought of leaving, a few times I’ve actually packed my bags and walked out the door, only to turn around and come back. I blamed myself: if only I was… fill in the blanks.

        Then, one day I STOPPED. Just STOPPED. I decided I would do NOTHING to make this relationship better. I would only work on myself and try to find the joy, the good. Even though I made this decision, it hasn’t been easy. In fact, it has been harder than anything I’ve ever done in my life. Why? Because I can’t imagine how anyone can live on such a detached, non-reflective level. Just can’t imagine it. It really isn’t living to me. And it is really difficult not being able to connect to this person that supposedly should be one of the most important in my life.

        I cannot seem to detach enough to get rid of the anger. It still surfaces too easily. Like tonight, when he wants to watch boxing instead of going out for dinner… a time to connect. I don’t feel like fixing dinner so I won’t be. If there was someway I could feel good about it, I would go out by myself but that would only make me feel worse.

        And then, though I consider myself a very moral person and a Christian, I’ve come to realize that given the right situation and right person, I could become intimately involved while being married. I don’t care a bit about the sexual, I’m starved for male/female bonding. And I’m also convinced that while God wouldn’t be in favor of this, but I think he would have some understanding and forgiveness for me. After all, didn’t he create women to bring intimacy to men and the world? His intimacy? But, lucky for me, God so far has protected me from any encounters that I might be vulnerable to.

        What bothers me the most is that he gives NO INDICATION that he cares, that he even thinks or considers any of this. Like I am not on his radar screen.

        I can’t bear the thought of separating my family, even though they’re all adults. What about my precious little grandchildren. So I think there must be some redeeming value in that.

        I don’t believe that Christian marriage is necessarily forever. I think we have to consider who we’re affecting along the way if we divorce as divorce is not just about us but those around us.

        A few years ago my daughter was in a similar situation. Married for 10 years, they had no children but it was a very controlling relationship. When she decided that if she stayed she would “be a shell of a person” I knew exactly what she was talking about. I supported her decision. Not having children and being involved in a relationship that didn’t give any indication of real improvement, I didn’t want her to go through what I had for the rest of her life. Since she left the marriage, her own life has flowered in ways she couldn’t have imagined and in ways it certainly couldn’t have.

        So I came across this website accidentally as I was trying to calm myself. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express myself. It has helped. Living this way is sometimes too much to bear. However, it isn’t played out yet and I am determined that I will not let it destroy me. -Patti

  19. hjh from United States says:

    What about a spouse with mild Aspergers? Is it hopeless then, save a miracle?

  20. Jen from United States says:

    I read this article and have read through a lot of the comments. I too am married and feel like my husband is disconnected from the relationship. One thing that struck me as I was reading the article and relating to most of the other woman’s comments. What I see is a lot of over functioning.

    Hypothetical: what if we stopped carrying the entire relationship? I am tired and tired of trying to make conversation, initiate sex, make plans, make dinner, do laundry , etc., while receiving barley anything back. I am going to try to relax and give 50% of this to my husband. Let’s see if he takes it.

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