Marriage Missions International

The Emotionally Distant Husband

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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

388 Responses to “The Emotionally Distant Husband”
  1. JD says:

    (US)  We’ll I have to say in my previous marriage I was unemotional, evasive, defensive and had a decreased sexual desire. I had no idea why I had all these barriers with my wife. As I was trying to self-diagnosis why I was such a jerk I came across a group, Adult Children of Alcoholics. It described me and my reactions to a T. Mainly anyone that grows up in a dysfunctional household will react certain ways in situations.

    Ex: Anytime anyone would present an issue they were having with me I would instantly turn it back around on them. Rather than address the situation I would interpret it as a personal attack (which is was not), get defensive and turn the situation around. Therefore, the issue was never addressed as it should have been. I’ve read so many of the ACOA books, attending meetings, etc… Mainly it is being aware of why I’ve acted the way I have, being aware of it on a daily basis and wanting/desiring to have a more indepth and deep connection with my future mate. GOOD LUCK!

  2. Kiki says:

    (US)  I am truly married to my best friend. He has flaws and I do too! The issue I run into is the fact that this season (he is a b-ball coach for 3 years), he has been unavailable in every aspect (in the parenting department, emotionally to me when I am sharing good news about the children or me…). I told him last night that I am waiting for him to be present in our marriage. He thinks he got the point.

    I used to threaten him with divorce often (due to his pornography “addiction”). I promised I wouldn’t do that anymore (unless of course I meant it). I am trying not to head into that destructive pattern. I am just annoyed with this (he is hardly home and when he is, he’s passive). It reminds me of the feelings I had when he was really into porn. He was passive. He wanted sex without intimacy.

    I know I should try to like b-ball. I just can’t stand the sport. Our kids are young (5 and 2) and my youngest is a “runner.” So if my youngest is not strapped into some seat, the outing is a complete nightmare!

    Can anyone give me some insight in how to deal with this? I know divorce is silly at this point. I just need to not raise the kids on my own.

  3. Amy says:

    (USA)  My husband wants nothing to do with me. We have been married 45 years and only had sex once in the entire 45 years. He went back to work the day after we were married and it was the midnight shift and stayed there for 40 years till he retired. Also to get away from me he moved to the basement and built himself a small apartment type thing. So we do not associate, have dinner, talk or sleep together.

    I have been so depressed, lonely, unwanted and unloved. I maybe should have left him but I do believe in our wedding vows. I try to be away from the house as much as possible. I go on vacation with our church group. He never has missed me, or asked where I’ve been. I just hope one day it will be over and God will take me away.

    • Susan from United States says:

      Sex only once in 45 years…c’mon. You should’ve left 44 years ago. if this IS real. It’s REALLY SAD. what a waste of your life. and what is HE doing with an apartment in your own house?

      • Amy from United States says:

        Yes this is real! This isn’t a made up story, if it was I’d write a book. I hate myself down deep and think I’m ugly and feel like I’m a failure. My anti-depressant helps a lot.

        I thought men were wired for sex, but in my case it didn’t happen. The day after our wedding night he told me sex was disgusting and we were disgusting to even have tryed it. He told me also he had no further interest in me or sex and just leave him alone, don’t talk to me and don’t “b” about any thing. I was dumfounded and speechless and thought I would let him cool off. I tried to confide in my mom but they just told me you married him you deal with it.

        At this point I was thrown aside by my husband and my folks. I had no where to go no money or any real job. I was the last of my friends to get married and they certainly didn’t want me around them. He had a small house and I went back and I was told by a note that I could stay as long as I want, I could have the upstairs because he was going to build a place for himself downstairs. We’re still not even friends, he’s so bull headed he won’t talk to me or even be in our yard together. After years he moved out of the house and lives in his big fancy garage.

        I agree I should have moved on years ago and the lack of money never helped. I would have left if I had some place decent to stay. I did a lot of stupid things when young and I just gave up with everything and wussed out by getting hooked on anti depressant drugs. My life is now mellow, but still upset; it seems I cry at the drop of a hat.

  4. Kiki says:

    (US)  Amy, don’t despair. Christ came that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). It sounds like you keep busy in church. Are there other opportunities in the church (nursery help? mentoring youth?)… Anything that steals life from us is not from God. I think getting involved in life giving opportunities can not only enrich and encourage us, but your husband may begin to wonder what has changed with you.

    I don’t know you or your husband (so I won’t pretend that I do), but I will pray for you because God knows you best. May God bless you!!! Your sister in Christ, Kiki

  5. Grace says:

    (USA)  I would be married 53 years if I had stayed in an unloving, marriage. After 36 years, I separated. He didn’t care. After 7 years of separation, I got a divorce. He was angry and refused to give me alimony even though it was the judgement. Had to take him to court. My entire marriage was with a man who “couldn’t” say “I love you”, “You look nice”, etc. Would rage if I asked him to spend time with our eldest son who had “issues”. I asked him to go to marriage counseling when our three were babies, and his raging answer was, “I am the way I am, you take me the way I am”. I shut my mouth to maintain a peaceful home for our children.

    After they were grown, ages 19, 21, and 23, I asked again for counseling. We went separately. The doctor eventually told me. “He lies to you all the time about everything”. The doctor also told me about the “head games” my husband was playing and that as I identified the head games and let my husband know I was onto him, he could “up the ante” and the games could get dangerous. That’s exactly what happened. There was a recall on my car’s steering mechanism and he hid the notice, I found out accidentally a year later.

    Besides this, he spent all the money so there’d be nothing extra. I went to work, he locked me out of the house, and spent all my money as well. I saved for a car, he spent that as well. He stopped balancing the checkbook and checks bounced. I started to college and he flattened my tires. I had a heart attack and a week later he drank and hit me. That’s when I called him at work and told him not to come home or he’d be served papers.

    My reason for telling this is to tell women, if the man refuses to go for help you don’t need to live such an empty life. I stayed so my children would have a “normal” life. Our eldest is angry at me as I had to be the disciplinarian and because I always spoke well of his father. Our son blamed me when we broke up. He said, “You put up with Dad all these years, why not now?” All my family blamed me as well, as I always made him out to be wonderful. My husband never showed his abuse in front of the children, and I never talked about it in front of them.

    Once when he was out drinking for 12 hours, he came home at 2 a.m. and beat me horribly. I chose not to tell anyone and not to talk about it, so the children didn’t ask why I was all bruised. Again, protecting him, the children, the marriage. Everything that everyone else mentioned in this blog is exactly what I experienced. I don’t know if it was worth staying and keeping silent for the children. They have successful marriages and I’m hoping it’s because I held our home together. God help us all.

    • Marie says:

      (USA) I am so sorry for all the hurt. And, I can truly understand the reason to stay and reasons to leave. But what I would like to say is how do you know your children all have wonderful blistful marriages? They too may be hiding their misery and pain. You did!

    • Jessica again says:

      (USA) Grace…you poor lady. I hurt inside..but he has never hit me or hurt me intentionally physically. I have to comment and give you a big virtual HUG!

  6. Christina says:

    (GREECE)  Wow! How precise can all these messages be? Amazing! I find myself in a situation with a nice guy, sociable, nice looking, but totally incapable of showing emotions, particularly towards me.

    We have been 3 years in a relationship and 2 1/2 of marriage. Not even once have we ever been out together, just the two of us for dinner. Not even once when he comes home from work does he ask how I am doing. He focuses on whether or not I have carried out all the tasks for the day (cooked the proper food, paid the bills etc.) He hardly ever calls to say I love you. he nevers writes text messages to me.

    With all the financial crisis now in our country he worries too much about work and says he doesn’t have the time to care about the relationship or my feelings.

    I run the house, I work and I don’t take money from him for my personal expenses. We sometimes even share the bills.
    He claims that the household is a female thing but bills and money is a shared one. He is very self centered …

    I consciously don’t want to have babies, although I crave for one or two, just because I am wondering that if life continues to be as it is now I will never ever be happy with him, and I am scared that as years pass by I will end up as many ladies in all the previous messages mentioned, lonely, isolated etc.

    Is that how a marriage is supposed to be? I am thininking of asking for a divorce. And yes I do get very angry, haven’t had sex for 8 months, I do call him names etc. These days I am so fed up that I tend to leave him at home alone and I go out a lot with my friends. The times I was calm and talkative towards him, I got good behaviour only for limited amount of time.

    His opinion is that all marriages have issues and since he is not a cheater I should be appreciative and accept him the way he is. I want to feel, I want to experience, I want to give. I want to take and I don’t mind if I get hurt as long as I have lived!!!

  7. Debra says:

    (USA)  WOW, This article really hit me in the face. I have been trying for years to figure out what is wrong with me. My husband is an easy going, happy, outgoing person. He is easy to talk with, for anyone other than me. When we get home he is emotionally distant, refuses to commit to any decision and never gives his point of view. I am shy by nature, so I decided that something is wrong with me. I have tried everything to get him to open up to me.

    We recently reached 30 years of marriage. We did not celebrate because I am trying to get over the hurt of discovering that he had been having an affair for 6 months. It has been several months since he finally admitted to it. I was diagnosed with an STD and he convinced me that I must have gotten it somewhere else. He seemed so honest when he said he had never been with anyone else.

    Over the past 30 years he has been flirty with women in front of me, so what else does he do behind my back? I have had doubts over the years but he still denies that this has ever happened before. The recent affair has ended and I am left to get over it by myself. He refuses to talk about it and frankly I don’t know what I need to know about it. I am still shocked and confused. This article has opened my eyes. It describes exactly how he avoids communication and emotional connection all during our lives together.

  8. Annie says:

    (SPAIN)  Hi, My husband is the pastor, so I can’t go there for help, nor can I talk to anyone else, lest he lose his position. He is and always has been constantly evasive, avoiding any sharing. He won’t talk about life decisions, share his thoughts or feelings, but I am expected to support him to the hilt in his ministry -turn up to every church event and smile. I feel so very alone and we’ve been married for 38 years next month.

    We work abroad and that adds to the aloneness. There’s no counselor anywhere near -in fact few other English speaking Christians. He hides out of deep seated fear -though it took me years to realise that. He was so confident but it masked insecurity, big time. I should have realized when during our engagement he always avoided praying with me -too tired or under pressure -still, the same excuses for loads of “together” things for 38 years now. He has avoided doing anything about a pension or a place to live. Avoidance of all responsibilities is normal. He says nobody showed him how to do these things, so again and again I try to pick up the pieces of an avoidant life. He is so unbelievably passive yet aggressive if I face him about any of them.

    What I find really difficult is that he turns every conversation into a conflict. If I mention something is wrong, he says “you do this”, making an accusation against me and turning totally away from what I raised. He always avoids what I say. I used to try to deal with what he said about me. Now I don’t cooperate along that route, so a conflict ensues. We argue now almost every day, usually for at least a couple of hours. I suppose I am so desperate now having waited patiently and blamed myself for so long that I don’t let him get away with his avoidance, so it ends in an argument. I tried every way I knew to improve so he would one day love me. Now I’m old and disappointed and have given up on battering myself with not being perfect. He just says I’m negative now. I am. I have no hope left.

    He would not allow me to get a job for most of our married life. Eventually I did and have a tiny, tiny pension. He has nothing and will be dependent on me when he retires in 2 years time. All he has is the UK state pension.

    I would love to be free to move away, to find out what it’s like to relax in your own home and not be “on guard” all the time. I skipped church today -just can’t listen to another one of his sermons. He is often agreeable and people like him -though he did have to leave our other two churches because he was accused of lying. He lies when he’s in a corner or when he feels threatened. He will say anything that comes into his head. I want to help him and I want to be happy -even for a few years. How do I stop taking responsibility for everything? He leaves it all to me and when I don’t do it things end in disaster. He never protects me or stands with me. Anyone can say anything they want to me or do whatever they want to me (that happens from time to time to a pastor’s wife in church life) and he just smiles at them and is “gracious” -he’s known for being gracious! Just not to me behind closed doors. All he does all day is read Christian books -it’s an addiction. He spends a fortune on them -has well over 3000 in his study. Just think of the pension he could have provided!

    Anyhow too late for that now. What do I do? I don’t even want to be part of his church anymore. Help.

    • Cindy Wright says:

      Annie, I’m so sorry that you feel so alone. Unfortunately, because you’re in ministry, you don’t have access to talk through your situations with the same freedom others are able to do. As a Pastor’s wife though, you do have organizations to contact, which could give you some type of counsel with those who can keep your confidence and understand your problems better than those who aren’t in ministry. The one I think of in particular that you might contact is found at http://www.Parsonage.org.

      They are an international ministry so it’s possible they would have someone you could talk to and help you to feel less hopeless. They minister to Pastor’s wives, as well as Pastor’s. Please consider contacting them Annie. I believe your situation isn’t as hopeless as it may seem at this time. I pray for you Annie. I’ve been praying for you since you wrote and will continue to do so. I pray the Lord brings you a special blessing so you feel encouraged.

  9. Marie says:

    (CANADA)  As I am reading all the comments on this blog, it occurs to me that the real reason for a lot of these men to be distant and uninterested in sex with their wives is porn addiction. I went through 2 years of this behavior from my husband before I realized that he was looking at porn sometimes 3-4 times a day. Please read the info on the website ” your brain on porn”. It changes the men’s behavior in all the ways described in the article, while they’re actively watching it and if they don’t watch for a while, they get withdrawal symptoms.

    This is a huge problem especially since internet porn is so available now and is being ignored as an actual addiction, which changes the brain just like drugs. Of course the wives all think it is their fault, which it is not so. Please read the blogs from the partner’s point of view too. It is a nasty thing to find out but knowledge is empowering.

  10. Peris says:

    (KENYA)  I have read to all the comments and I can relate to many of the women on this forum (having been married to an emotionally evasive man for almost 12 years). But I am curious, are these men as emotionally evasive with other people? Do the mistresses (for those who have affairs) see the detachment or is that reserved for the wife? Can my husband’s friends attest to what I see? Just wondering whether anyone would know…

    • Debra says:

      (USA)  No they are available for anyone except the spouse. It hurts but it’s true. At least that’s how it is in my marriage.

      • Chris says:

        (USA) That really seems to ring true to me also. Last night I spent 7 hours in the ER with Chest Pain. My husband didn’t even bother to ask if I wanted him to come, but a few months ago someone at his office went to the ER and he stayed there all day. So discouraging.

  11. Shirley says:

    (USA) I’ve come upon this page trying to figure out my own marriage. The description resounds my marriage perfectly. What it did not address was the devastion and destruction that it creates. My grandson was 5 years old when my daughter became involved in a battered relationship. My grandson then became a victim of being beaten to a pulp by the boyfriend. I raised this little boy for the better part of his life until his mother moved in with this boyfriend.

    She is not my husband’s daughter, but lived with us during her childhood and youth. Hence, she became attracted to unavailable men, following her only example of what a relationship is, not what it should be.

    While state attorney’s, victim advocates, and domestic violence agents became involved in pushing for the removal of my grandson my husband pushed even harder to evade and remove himself from it totally and this life threatening event at hand. He was nonsupportive in every way a man of this description could be. He showed no concern whatsoever at the depth of physical abuse a 5 year old child suffered. Actually saw the pictures of the blistered bloody bare skin as well.

    The boyfriend was convicted of 3rd degree felony abuse, but only served “community control”. I am now totally alienated from my daughter and the precious bond of a child I deeply love. What I am left with is total isolation from my adult daughter as she clings to this batterer and subjects herself and her son to his rage, covering each sign of damage in it’s wake.

    The bottom line is that my husband’s actions resulted in so much trauma that it has affected my health to a serious degree and my husband’s actions or lack of -has created nothing short of regrets, pain, and more. This has pretty much been the final blow to any respect, love or concern for such a man in my life.

    The results of this power struggle, while I’m guilty of holding out hope and pushing for his attentiveness and leadership within the family unit, has resulted in so much devastation to our lives it really should be noted. Being a child of God, I doubt I will leave my husband. But I’d welcome his departure to escape the insanity and pain it has brought into my life.

  12. Eugene says:

    (SOUTH AFRICA) I am a young man who also experiences this abusive practice. After my wife passed on, I got a friend since my son was very young, four years old, not knowing am in for surprise. Two months after we met, she moved in with us. Knowing as child of a God that you’ve been instructed to love by God’s word. She started to manipulate, emotionally and physically abused. I was poised, arm broken.

    When I told her to leave, she opened a case against me that I am abusing her. She continually abused me until I told myself that it’s enough not knowing she’s already fraudulently married me, planning to divorce me to claim half of my assets.

  13. Chas says:

    (US) I thank you for this article, of all the articles I could have read through on the internet, I am so thankful God helped me find this one. It’s extremely insightful and thought provoking. I related to almost every comment listed above. I now know that I am not ‘crazy’ in needing more out of our relationship & my (small) expectations aren’t unrealistic.

    We have been together for over four years, & married for a little over one. We have a blended family, in which I love his children equivalent to my own because I consider them my own, & our youngest child is ours together. Despite being married for such a short time, I feel isolated & alone. I feel like (& know) I am last on his priority list -himself, the kids, his family, his tasks, sports, his work, internet… The list is ongoing- ALL come before me, or more concerning us!

    When we first met, he loved me with same intensity I loved him. We couldn’t get enough of each other’s company. I still love him with that same intensity I loved him then, and it pains me to be in a situation in which my request of reciprocation is shut down. I ask for nothing more. I do not believe in divorce. I believe in working at growth. We work two separate shifts, and always my days off are generally during the week, so our schedules never mimic each other’s. I have expressed that perhaps we should start lining up a time during the week for us to have our time, (not even just about sex- which is also withheld unless I make the request, in which it’s always after weeks of not making love and days of me constantly insisting we do- it’s about us connecting w/o kids and w/o external distractions.

    My requests for that are never fulfilled. He agrees with me often times to pacify me & when the moment passes, his actions and words never match. I slap on a happy face for our kids, even though I cry almost daily. We have an appointment to see a marriage counselor in a month -the soonest we could get in -but I need help in the mean time. I want our love back. I’m tired of feeling like a doormat for staying in a situation in which he knows he contributes to unhappiness but refuses to change. Suggestions?

  14. Jazzy says:

    (UNITED STATES) This article is so amazing! It hit the nail on the head for me. As I read through the entire thing I kept wanting to stop at different points to make my own comment, but I kept reading. The more I read, the more I felt it was talking to me. I am that emotional woman who feels like my marriage of almost 14 yrs is at a total dry point right now. I never could figure out what the perfect way to describe my husband’s ignoring me until I saw it in this article… evasive… that is so him.

    However, I feel as though I’m a lot, if not all, of the things described about the emotional, needy woman. We dated in high school and after 4/5 yrs of dating, we got married, but felt like we were pressured to get married before we wanted to because our parents didn’t want us shacking up. We made things work and then things became really fun and great for us until a few years ago, when the love died out.

    Long story short, my spouse went outside for comfort and I was so hurt, even though eventually I said I forgave him and chose to stay. I now know that I purposely made him pay for hurting me by not paying him any attention after that for a long time. Granted that caused more problems because I was too stubborn to realize I had some faults of my own, although it was clearly his decision to go outside, but I did keep myself from him because he hurt me.

    My love for this man is so much deeper than he even knows, although I’ve told him this. About 3 yrs ago, the infidelity happened again, this time, in our home. I was so hurt, angry, you name it, I felt it. I left for several months and then returned. He tried to blame me for everything, but eventually accepted his faults.

    It was very hard for the first 1 1/2 yrs to not bring it up or point the finger. Now that we’re past that stage, because neither of us wanted to let all the years we’d been together be totally lost or ruined. I admit, I was no angel, but I’ve always been faithful. I may have thought about doing some things, but could never do so, because no matter what, it’s just not in me nor my character.

    Now I am the stage where I’m truly trying to make things work and be happy and he’s so distant from me. We know we love each other. He’s constantly mad at me, yells at me at times, and tells me I’m irritating him. And not to mention he just recently lost his job to make matters worse. I feel like I’ve tried so much to make things betters, but I have done all of the things that this article says the woman should refrain from doing to gain the love wanted/needed from her spouse. I’m emotionally drained. I get so tired I don’t want to do anything when I get home and it looks like a total wreck. I have to pick up after my spouse all the time and it’s getting very old. I clean up and the very next day, if not the same day, he dirties something up I’ve just cleaned and just leaves it. So frustrating… urrrggghhhh!!! Even though I’ve clearly read this article, I still feel like I don’t know where to begin.

  15. Sparletter says:

    (BOTSWANA) I have just read some of the comments and they are helping me. We have been having problems in our marrage.

  16. Stephanie says:

    (USA) I’ve read a number of posts and each one sounds sadder than the last. I am deeply in love with my boyfriend of a year and keep holding on that our relationship will become more intimate again. I definitely follow the characteristics of this except and so does he.

    My question, is there hope? I’m praying that there is. My sweetie is a good God-centered man who is generous and kind. I just feel left out of his tenderness. Is there hope for both of us to change and make it work? Praying for God’s guidance.

  17. Cam says:

    (USA) Excellent article, and of comfort to me after recent tensions rose… Lots of great insight, and deeper understanding of the ‘evasive’ husband than I have perhaps ever seen.

    But, I do want to add that evasive husbands (and wives, I suspect) are not solely emotionally evasive. Often, they evade and avoid addressing many of the day to day issues that naturally come up in family life. Finances, saving for retirement and college expenses, the raising of children, decisions regarding where and how to live, when to retire –all of this and more in my experience has been avoided by my spouse.

    These types of issues call for serious attention. While I have learned to accept that on an emotional level my spouse cannot/will not always be there for me, how can I –or, even, should I? –accept that my spouse will not address certain key financial issues with me?

    My answer to that is a firm “No!”, but I have learned that pressuring my husband to address financial issues comes at a cost. There is almost always some level of tension, or even outright fighting, that precedes our discussions. At least, through calm requests and/or outright upset, I have been able to induce him into somewhat regular talks about money, finances, and work issues. I have been criticized by some friends for doing this. Their approaches were the ‘let it go; it’s not worth it’ old saw…

    I have seen this approach come back later and badly hurt these women. Emotional, and even sexual, satisfaction are one type of need in my marriage. I have learned through many years of struggling that I can find satisfaction elsewhere for those needs… But when it comes to issues arising out of our shared, intermingled and legally interdependent financial and work lives, I refuse to back down, knowing full well that to do so is to do so at my peril. Sad, but true. And how far from my expectations so many years ago of what my marriage would be…!

  18. Cam says:

    (USA) I just posted below, but after reading more comments must say this– Wow, I am just very impressed with the levels of openness, honesty, and suffering evidenced here. As someone else said, these are not the complaints of immature, impulsive people childishly seeking a “perfect partner.” These are the comments of mature women who have sunk many, many hours, if not days, weeks, and months, into understanding their mates, their selves, and their relationships. These are people who have studied, read, sought out help, confessed, confided, and examined their inner worlds. People who aren’t afraid to take responsibility for their own roles in the problem… People who deserve recognition of all that they have done, and sacrificed, to deepen and strengthen themselves and their families.

    I just hope and wish that everyone posting here has found/will find greater peace –both within themselves, and within their relationships.

    In my own attempts to sort out my marriage (as well as several other knotty relationships) I have learned a couple things that made a huge difference for me. One is to recognize my own role in causing problems, and to alter my behavior accordingly.

    Two is to simply stop asking, or insisting, that certain satisfactions arise from my spouse. To accept him for who he is, and to try to see him in the most positive light possible.

    Three is to stay alert to how predictably fatigue, worry, and fear cause everyone’s defenses to rise, and become intractably stubborn. Everyone, no matter how personally ‘evolved’, is at their worst –rigid and reactive –when tired and anxious.

    Finally, I have learned that without an understanding of temperament and personality that many people would remain closed books to me. In this regard, I have found that the Myers and Briggs approach to temperament, and the profoundly insightful Enneagram materials on personality, have been invaluable. For those interested in learning about the Enneagram, any of the books by Hudson and Riso are first-rate. And, for a deeper spiritual look at the Enneagram, check out work by Sandra Maitri.

    I know, everything I said above is far, far easier *said, than done*. But without self-study, and self knowledge, no real change is possible. Good luck to all!

  19. Marie says:

    (US) 26 years old and married now for 6 years, we have 2 kids together and I live everyday as a lie! I put a smile on my face and make my husband sound like the greatest thing on this earth when I talk to others. But at home he tells me that I should be the one to cook and clean, for baths, make school lunches, be a full time mom and also have a full time job! He says that it should be like that in households because that’s how it was when he grew up and that’s all he used to.

    Our paychecks are kept apart and I basically have to beg for gas money with which most times he says no because he has no money… Comes home the next day with three new movies. I try to tell him how it upsets me that we don’t act as a married couple but rather just roommates and all of a sudden he thinks I want a divorce and then thinks I’m cheating on him! For Pete’s sake he has a problem when I go out for a drink with one of my sisters at 3 in the afternoon!

    I feel that I could be a lot happier without him but there’s still something inside of me that can’t let him go! I’m begging for some help here. I’ve tried asking him if he will go to a counselor with me but says that he’s seen soapy counselors in his life that he could be one… In other words he counsels me and tells me all of my flaws and makes it seem like he’s the perfect man and everything that happens is my fault :( please help me because I don’t want to break up this family. How would that affect my kids?

  20. Kim says:

    (USA) I found this article today and it has been a great source of validation for me. I have been married for 14 years and I have to say that my husband and I are closer in some ways than when we were married. With that said, we still continue to struggle with his emotional detachment. We have both matured so much during our marriage and we’ve had two children but in many ways, I feel so alone sometimes. I think now that I’m older and more confident in who I am as a woman and a person, I know what makes me ‘tick’ and I expect my husband to know this too. I know…men can’t read our minds and they never will.

    I’m very happy with who I am today versus who I was 20 years ago, but all of my life I wanted and desired affection and intimacy with someone who would give it willingly, abundantly, and often! But sadly, none of my (awful) choices for boyfriends were ever capable of anything but treating a nice girl badly. Shame on them. My husband loves me, at least he tells me that he does but my issue is that he needs to SHOW it. Men…let me be clear, when a woman craves intimacy it means that she wants more than sex. Intimacy with a woman begins in the mind and in the heart. Words and actions begin the seduction! Yes, we want sex (oh, definitely) but we want you to open doors, kiss our neck and whisper how great we look, reach for our hand and gently kiss it…these are all things that make us swoon. It’s the little things!

    My husband will sometimes come home from work and barely say five words to me but when I go to bed, he’s ready to have sex and me, I’m mostly hurt and wounded because he’s ignored me most of the evening. Alone time is pretty much non-existent…date night…nope. I have told him over and over, and then over and over again, that we have to do something for us. He hears me but I don’t know if he’s listening…there is a difference. I remember 3 months ago, I started reading a book that basically made my ‘womanhood’ wake up and say, “Here I am!! I’ve been sleeping but I’m here!!”. I was overweight and just going through the motions every day with little satisfaction in or out of the bedroom. Well, I went through an awakening of sorts and I started taking care of me. I began eating like I should’ve always been eating, walking at least 10-15 miles a week and basically rediscovering myself. I had lost 20 pounds at the time (now 30) and my husband was becoming suspicious. He finally sat me down and told me I wasn’t acting ‘normal’ and he asked if I was cheating on him. Okay, seriously? I was shocked. So, he couldn’t notice me or my needs while I was chubby? It took losing weight and, if I say so myself, looking rather great at 42, for him to wake up. Well, it was probably the best thing to happen to us because it finally made him realize I won’t be ignored. I have needs and I’ve always been a faithful wife but there was no way that I could go on living life without receiving the love and affection I need. Since this revelation, our marriage has improved in many ways and we have learned to talk more but there are still ups and downs. Currently, I’m going through a ‘down’. He has become a bit more complacent again, which I’m convinced all men do. I wish that I didn’t have to always remind him that I need him to show me more affection. I want him to be self-aware of his distance and check himself from time to time, but it doesn’t always happen. So for all spouses, male and female, going through this difficult issue, I can only say that I understand your frustrations, times of sadness, loneliness and doubt. I vowed to be faithful to my husband in front of God and I’m happy that my husband is a faithful man, but I pray every day that he will continue to grow into the godly man that I know he can become. I also pray and ask God to change me and to help me deal with years of baggage that come from having boyfriends that rejected my feelings and my needs. I know this still plays a small part in how I react to my husband and I know that I need to change in many ways too. If you truly love your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend, don’t give up until you feel you have exhausted every possibility, you can’t do it alone and it’s important to know when you’re giving all of the effort and they’re giving little or none. Good luck to you all!

  21. Chris says:

    (USA) Wow, I just stumbled across this site, and after 19 years of frustration dealing with the very issues I am reading in the posts, I feel a little relieved to read that others also experience the emotional distance with their spouse. I had no idea how widespread this issue was-this is an eye opener for me. That oddly gives me hope, because I was beginning to believe that the problem in my marriage was me, for having expectations of tenderness, closeness, sharing, etc with my spouse. My spouse thinks my need for this type of intimacy would be better handled “by a girlfriend”, which I find absurd. Thank you for this site.

  22. Sally says:

    (UNITED STATES) My husband is becoming more of a loner over the years. I’ve begged and pleaded with him for us to do things together and nothing works. We had a long-distance dating relationship, but also felt such a connection that we knew that God had brought us together. My mom passed away the next day upon returning from our honeymoon, (her death was expected after many years of fighting cancer).

    Two weeks after her funeral, and selling everything and settling her estate, my husband makes a statement that has over-shadowed our marriage for the past 25 years and I have never gotten over it. I want to know how other women would feel upon hearing this and what the men could give insight wise as to why he would say this. I was lying in his arms and said to him that “I was so grateful that God brought him to me and that I didn’t know what I would do without him and couldn’t live without him and don’t you feel the same way?” and his reply to me was “Yeah, I would go on, I could live without you, in fact you weren’t really my ideal and I feel like I settled for you”. He treated me like gold before we were married and always made me feel good about myself, but after getting married, he said such a thing!

    He became a Christian while we were dating and I’ve come to realize after many talks about this event, he feels that “maybe” he said this because he thought I was going to fulfill him like only a relationship with Jesus can. My women friends who’ve spent enough time around him have all come to me and noticed how he treats me and have said, how do you put up with how he treats and speaks to you? I am numb. I no longer have any feelings for him; he seems to not care.

    But my biggest question, is what did his comment truly mean? When all that I said was how much I love him and couldn’t live without him. And unprovoked tells me I wasn’t his ideal!! I was a beautiful girl back then and feel like he has stolen the best years of my life. How do I get over this and how do I ever make sense of his comment? From a man’s opinion, why did he say this?

  23. Kavitha says:

    (SOUTH AFRICA) I knew my husband for almost 10 years before we decided to get married. It was great in the beginning but now all he does is spend time social networking -constantly on his cell. We have major arguments about it -but he doesn’t stop!!! It’s as if he is addicted to it… Any advice?

  24. Emmez says:

    (AUSTRALIA) Tony, I have been reading this thread and can’t help but notice that you seem to think you know best! I notice you are an engineer – funny coincidence because I am a financial planner and financial planners (both male and female) often comment and joke about about how engineers are the worst clients because they come asking for help and leave telling you they know better. You seem to take a view of explaining how the women on this thread can better understand their men without giving the slightest consideration to the fact perhaps the men could also do with working on understanding their women. Tony, relationships are a two-way street and not purely about a woman learning to accommodate a man.

    • Tony says:

      (USA) Emmez, You make the logical fallacy of assuming that just because I’m trying to help wives understand their husbands that I don’t think there are things husbands can do to on their side of the street.

      Since the topic is about women understanding what may appear to them as their husband being emotionally distant, it only stands to reason that I would focus my efforts on the topic at hand.

      You cannot assume that I don’t have tips for husbands based on my comments here. I’ve consistently said it’s a two-way street. In this thread, I’m speaking to any woman who is willing to read about ways to understand her husband. I’m also suggesting ways she may be inadvertently misunderstanding her husband and missing signs that he really is emotionally there, but because those ways don’t line up with her preconceived notions and natural biases, she may be missing out on a rich and hopefully interesting part of her husband.

      I offer as proof of the intended audience the beginning of the article, “Are you eager to be linked in a loving relationship with a man who cares about you deeply, but it’s just not happening?”

      It’s pretty clear this article is aimed at women. Therefore, suggesting things men should do is unlikely to assist the target audience. It may resonate as we all like to hear what someone else should be doing, rather than what we should do. But I doubt it will help the women that are targeted by this topic.

    • Jessica again says:

      (USA) Amen Emmez. There are a lot of hurting stories here. This particular article deals with women who love their men, and the men who do not covey that love back to their women. Does my husband’s working for his family and staying sexually faithful to me mean he loves me? It can. It can also just mean he loves the Lord and it’s doing what society expects from him. Does the fact that he never had sex, never caresses, never comes to me with a kids on his lips mean he doesn’t love me? Maybe not.

      I tell myself he is just really extremely busy… um… killing aliens or watching tv every night. But this isn’t just about that. Everything about throwing me under the bus, never defending me in public, making rules for our kids and then disagreeing with me in front of the kids when I tried to reinforce even the smallest of them. I never know the rules around him! They change every day.

      I never expect it and why am I always so shocked when one again I’ve done something else wrong with the kids? I used to call it him being passive aggressive. Oh the dishonesty. Yes. How could be who thought himself so moral tell me one thing and do another. Or the partial dishonesty. I used to think the words I’LL TAKE CARE OF IT, meant he was going to handle it. I now know it means STOP TALKING THE CASE IS CLOSED …and that he wasn’t going to do anything about it. This article is for women. it is for women who have always wondered why they were treated in a way so differently from their parents happy marriage, and who felt like they were the only one like this in the world.

  25. Jeff says:

    (USA) Ephesians also states women need to respect their husbands… do not quote one side only please. Why are men not responding to these articles more? All through out any of these articles it’s 90+% women. Why? Can you ask yourself that and come up with an answer? I am sure many women are hard at work and work hard, but I’m guessing your husbands are working and do not have time for these articles or have other interests… that is where the difference lies. Respect that and respect them for who they are not for what they do.

    Learn this and you will see a change. Nagging is not respectful. Men and women or like oil and viniger. Men do not care if other men even like them at work or anywhere else, but they do care if they are respected. I could care less if my employees hate me, but they are employed by me and I set the rules and they are to be followed… if they hate the rules, but follow them, that is respect. When they don’t like them and break them, that is disrespect… Are my ways not theirs and vice versa, but they are my way.

    Men see and do things different. They feel different things and think differently. When you realize this and respect it, you will see love toward you like you never knew. You can say “he has to earn my respect,” but you in turn would hate him saying “she has to earn my love”. The world says respect has to be earned, but God says to respect your husbands, he doesnt’ suggest it.

    • BK says:

      (USA) Jeff -Maybe it is because men are not as willing to read things to figure out what is wrong. My “husband” works hard and I tell him I appreciate him for doing so. He is in the military and I thank him for what he does. On the other hand, I am in law school and a full time student with two children trying to fulfill a dream that I have and a goal I set for myself. My parents are paying for me to attend so there is no financial burden on our marriage. My “husband” is extremely lazy and will tell you the same. I expressed to him that once I finished my schooling and was gainfully employed with a sufficient income he could not work if he chooses to not do so and stay at home all day. Trust me when I say, he would have no problem with that – it is not that he wants to be the breadwinner.

      Why, however, is it that when it comes to emotions and needs my husband will show more affection to our dogs than he does to me? He will let our two St Bernards jump up and lay in his lap (they weigh more than I do) but when it comes to me trying to lay on the couch and watch a movie with him he tells me to get off of him because he can’t breathe. Better yet, he will call the dogs over to the couch by acting like he is hitting me (they’re protective) just so there is something in between us.

  26. NB says:

    (USA) This is my husband and I and I want to separate from him. I tried to talk to him and willing do whatever he wants me to do to make things better for both of us. He simply says drop it and does not want to talk. We are friends but not husband and wife. I hate my relationship with him right now. I want to leave. I am finished fighting… I am lost, hurt, and don’t know where to go, what to do, or how to do it. We have two kids 13 and 15. We both love them dearly. I know I can make it on my own, thats not the problem. The problem is he seems to love me, but we are so far apart he doesn’t even see or care about my pain. He is blind to it. We are 17 years apart and I am sure that is the issue; but is the next 20 years going to be like this? I don’t want it. I have needs and… dropping off to cry now.

  27. Marcia says:

    (USA) We are in our seventies and my husband has many medical issues. He cannot do the simplest tasks but he is very alert. He is legally blind and can only take a few steps with a walker. He sits and waits to be served; has specific demands about his food and in general treats me as hired help. I have gotten up from being sick to serve him and he shows no concern no matter how sick I may be. He merely gets up from the table and goes to bed. I’ve asked him if he ever feels bad about all the things I have to do for him and he doesn’t answer; is he just mean or does he have a mental condition? He wasn’t always this way.

  28. Cheri says:

    (USA) It makes you wonder what the point of being married really is. I always thought the goal was to really get along, build and learn about and from each other. Thank you for putting my agony in clear words that explains the process 100%. It still makes no sense to me why men and my husband behaves this way, or chooses to stay if they do not feel that they can be open, honest and even vulnerable to the person they are sharing their life with. But at least now I get that this is indeed a power play. Thank God I am not losing my mind. My suspicions of deliberate evasive behavior from a highly intelligent man is indeed true. What a confused way to connect. Men truly are from Venus and women are from Mars. God Bless all the women and men that are caught up in this dance.

    • Jean from United States says:

      Tony will scold me again, but I need to tell women everywhere that when husbands are not loving and affectionate to their wives as they are supposed to be, they are sinning against God. Just pray for your own mental stability, get a hobby, or friends and stay out of his way. Do not beg up behind him. The more you kiss up to him, the worst and the more cold they become. Ask any experienced wise woman.

  29. Dawna says:

    (USA) My husband makes me feel worthless. He is more kind to everything and everybody than he is to me so everybody thinks he is such a nice guy. He has given away my personal belongings without discussing it with me, even a Christmas gift that he thought I didn’t act appreciative enough for. He is not the man I married but we have 2 children and I can’t bear the thought of breaking up my family! Please pray for me!

  30. BK says:

    (USA) Let me start from the beginning: We met on St Patrick’s Day in the bar downstairs in the building I lived in. I was unwinding from a long day at work and contemplated going out to “party” with my friends or take my laptop down stairs and sip on a glass of wine while finishing up some of the tedious paperwork I needed to finish. I decided to do the latter. I was taking a break from working for the night and decided to run upstairs, put my laptop away, and go have a smoke. While I was out on the street fulfilling my nicotine cravings, I met this guy who was annihilated. It was comical, yet sad. He was hitting on me but I had no attraction to “drunks” because of a previous relationship. I asked him if he was driving and he said, “no one of my friends is on his way to get me.” I casually went back downstairs to have another drink. About 45 minutes later “the friend” shows up and is standing right next to me. At that point I was a little loose so I told “the friend” (not knowing who he was at the time) to stop being so lingering and sit down and have a drink – after all it’s St Patty’s Day! The look I got was one of bewilderment and intrigue. We were married on 9/02/10.

    In the beginning we had the best of times. We went skydiving, parasailing, golfing – we completed 101 things to do on Oahu. His demeanor was loving, caring, kind, sincere, affectionate, and the intimacy was daily! Fast forward to today. We haven’t slept in the same bed for almost eight months – I seep on the couch. When I try to go upstairs and get into our bed, he asks me what I am doing and why I am disturbing his sleep. When I try to “turn him on” he replies with, “I’m tired”, “I’m stressed”, “I worked all day”, or “what do you want?” Frankly, I cannot count the hours that I have spent crying because when I ask him what is wrong he gives me the cold shoulder or does not reply at all. Today is my birthday and instead of telling me happy birthday, giving me a hug, a kiss, some sign of emotion, he yelled at me, called me names, and told me that today is just another day and it is nothing special. He then texted me, “thanks for ruining my day, if you are lucky I will not come home.” We went from being one of the couples most people were jealous of because of the connection we had to coexisting in the same space. I have suggested counseling but he refuses to go. He tells me he was never the way I made him out to be and I am delusional – it is all in my head. I have pictures that prove otherwise and letters he used to leave me on my computer before I would go to work. I do not know what to do anymore. We haven’t been intimate in over six months, when I try to hug him he pushes me away (literally) or rolls his eyes and tells me to leave him alone. When I express my concerns and my feeling about this situation to him he tells me that it is my fault because I do not listen to him. What gives?

  31. L says:

    (USA) I just ended a relationship with an emotionally unavailable man after trying to improve communication for over a year. I showed him this article and others like it and he responded, “This is attacking men.” Every time I tried to have a conversation below the surface I was “attacking” him –ugh! I finally gave up. I guess protecting his safety zone was more important to him than saving the relationship. Men like this are cowards.

    My advice is if you’re not already married, get out. He’s not going to spontaneously combust into being emotionally available. This kind of behavior works for them on some level and makes them feel in control.

  32. David says:

    (USA) While much of this article does describe the dynamic between my wife and I, there nothing about what is to be done, other than for the husband to “open up” and share his feelings. But what if when he does, he finds that many of his feelings are not welcome? Women expect men to be strong & stable, and attraction is based on this. When men share fears & insecurities, their wives may not react well to it.

    • Cindy Wright says:

      David, You make some very valid points. It’s something that not many wives realize. I sure didn’t. But in the various studying and mentoring I’ve been doing, I’ve learned how different men and women perceive “communication.” Just because we communicate differently –sometimes VERY differently, it doesn’t mean that one spouse is wrong and the other is right. Often, it just means that it is different. It’s important after marrying, that we not only marry in name, but in purpose. And part of that purpose is learning how to marry our various approaches to every day events and that which comes up in the course of our life together.

      When one spouse WANTS to communicate, but doesn’t, there is usually a pretty good reason for it. Some type of help is needed so both spouses can get on the same page in the way of being able to communicate together, and make it safe to do so. For a number of years, I now realize that I didn’t make it safe for my husband to share certain things with me. I’ve since learned differently, and so has he. We both had to learn to marry our approaches and make it safe for both of us to say what needed to be said. It has helped our marriage GREATLY!

      There are two articles I recommend you read. They are both in the “Communication and Conflict” topic. One is titled, “How Well Do You Encourage Honesty?” And the other is titled, “Why Doesn’t My Husband Address Problems Directly?” They may be ones that you approach your wife to read and the both of you sit down together at a time, which isn’t a H.A.L.T. Time (which would be a time when either of you is Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. There’s more vulnerability to be less tolerant during those times), to discuss these issues. We have other articles to read, which may help you to both better understand each other’s approach to relationship issues, but these are a good start.

      If you can’t come to an agreement at some point, I recommend you find a “Marriage-friendly” counselor (which is explained in the “Marriage Counseling” topic) to help you both get over this issue so you can both better communicate in safety and honesty. You can be married 30, 40, or even 50 years and still learn new things. My husband and I have been married for over 41 years and we’re still learning things to help us grow and enjoy our marriage partnership. I commend you for WANTING to do this. Many spouses don’t –they just figure it’s impossible or not worth it and go into an unhealthy direction. I sense that you want more than this in your marriage. I’m so glad you do. I pray you gain the insight and the help you need so that you and your wife can grow in this aspect of your marriage together.

  33. Paula says:

    (US) I found this article about the distant husband interesting since my husband of less then a year is exactly like this. He also does not express interest in intimacy and shows no care or concern for me if I am hurt by something, which is not too often for me since I am not an overly emotional person. I try to talk to him very maturely and respectfully, and in return he just sits there very uninterested in having a conversation, sometimes just ignoring me completely so then I just keep going on and on. If there are no problems or nothing negative going on then everything is fine. This is how he deals with conflicts only. What can I do to influence a change?

  34. Elizabeth from United States says:

    My husband has always been somewhat emotionally distant (except when we were dating) and tended to be affectionate mostly when he wanted sex. A year and a half ago I was diagnosed with cancer. He was very supportive and wonderful during chemo and for the first couple of weeks after surgery. Then, like a door slamming he became more distant than ever before. He has also become very controlling. When I expressed how I felt about how I looked after the cancer, his reply was not to reassure me of his love or say I would always be attractive to him no matter what or anything like that. It was “the alternative was to be dead.”

    When I cried he told my doctors I needed antidepressants. They made me like a zombie, no happiness or sadness and no expectations from him, and he thought that was a wonderful improvement. Then they made me suicidal. He still thinks I need to take them again. My friends were horrified at how I was on them. If I beg enough, I get a kiss a day for two or three days and then nothing again. But he still wants to go to all my doctor appointments. He has slept in our daughter’s old bedroom (we’re empty nesters) since my surgery a year ago.

    I’m stage 4 so I wonder if he subconsciously thinks if he keeps me emotionally distant that it will hurt less when I die. But my doctors think they can keep me in remission for a number of years and right now I actually feel fairly good, although fatigued from all the treatments I’ve been through and some side effects from the anticancer meds I have to stay on. I do not want to spend the last part of my life like this.

    • Tony from United States says:

      Why not ask him? What you say may be true. He may be just as afraid as you are. Cancer doesn’t just impact those who have it. It impacts those who love the patient too. I speak from the perspective of a cancer survivor.

      Why not just be honest with him. Tell him what you need and that if you have 1000 days or a 1000 years left to spend with him, you want to enjoy whatever time you have left together.

  35. Jean from United States says:

    Jeff and Tony, you two will more than likely disagree with these points, because you don’t seem to see any fault of a man/husband, and you defend men’s sins. But read anyway please. Women the points below, may awaken many of you all’s complacent attitudes, about men and get you stirred up enough to realize that you should not kissing up and begging up to your husbands. They are not that into us as we are into them. It could be possible that they are incapable of real, deep love for a woman. I believe that men CAN care, about their women, but that’s basically it, since most times they are cold, distant, unfriendly, unloving to their wives and just plain ol’, mean, selfish, narcisstic, and immature. Give up women, go and get yourselves some kids and some hobbies to love.

    POINTS: Women/Wives, You Need to Ask Yourselves, If Any Of These Are True About Your Situations:

    !) My husband comes and communicates with me, only when he wants to know what is for dinner, or wants sex.
    2) My husband can be in his cold mode, but instantly changes when our teen daughter walks into the room. Suddenly and magically, he lights up and becomes talkative with her. (This contradicts the lie, that men give about not liking to be talkative)
    3) Your husband goes into a hypnotic gaze at the tv when his program is on. He pretends he doesn’t hear you ask him a question.
    4)When his buddy knocks on the door and tells him to step outside or go fishing or riding with him, he gets loud and friendly, not cold and distant, like he is to you.
    5) Your husband is loud when playing cards with his friends.
    6) Your husband takes his mom’s side if you tell him that his mom insults you often.
    7) He tries to over ride your authority in the delivery room, even though he cannot be in authority over you when you are ecposed then, and says it is unfair not to let his mom in there, when you have EXPLICITLY said NO! And anyway, you are the one giving birth with your private parts exposed, not him.
    8) He complains about your housekeeping.
    9) You work outside of the home too, but he expects you to cook all of the meals
    10) He thinks it is okay for him to say “We’re pregnant”, not “My wife is pregnant.” But he distances himself from being close to you any other time.
    11) Tells people that you spend too much time with thechildren (Wow!)
    12) He is not the spiriyual leader that God has told men to be
    13) He does not love and honr you like God tells men to
    14) You worshipped your dad and let him walkk you down the aisle without your mother

    There are other important points, but do you see women what is going on and how much we allow men to mistreat us? Women now you see that your husbands are sinners, just like you and he is not God! Stop exalting and kissing up to him, coddling him, begging up to him, looking at him with dreamy eyes, stop smiling at him when he is cold to you. Stop trying to get him to talk to you. Forget that! I am not saying be vindictive. I am just saying you need to stop treating him nice and fair, when he doesn’t googoo over you. Get yourselves together. Love yourselves women/wives. You are vital and important, just by being YOU.

    • Tony from United States says:

      Jean, The only fault I find is with your one-sided approach and failure to see when I’ve found fault with men. I tend to agree that if one finds themself with a man as you describe, it would be a pretty horrible situation. I simply don’t believe that fits the majority of men.

      Furthermore, this topic is not about finding fault with men (or women). It’s about finding ways to address the situation. Fault-finding does little to address the situation and certainly doesn’t show your spouse any sort of love. If you say, “My spouse is faulty” who is going to feel loved and more willing to open up after that sort of judgment?

      The guidelines above state:

      “No name-calling, crude or profane language.
      No hurtful comments targeted at belittling others.
      Be mindful that this is an international ministry where cultural differences need to be taken into consideration.
      Please honor the fact this is a Christ-centered web site.”

      When you make false claims such as “don’t seem to see any fault of a man/husband, and you defend men’s sins” you are in violation of the terms here.

      Let’s be clear on what are sins and what are differences. Being different is NOT a sin. In one of your posts, you (rightly) suggest women shouldn’t be changed by men. But then you talk out of the other side of your mouth by suggesting that women should change men. Your argument is essentially that the way men are is sinful and the way women are is Godly. When someone challenges you on this argument, you engage in a campaign to discredit that person by suggesting they are condoning sin.

      Jean, that makes you a liar, full stop. So knock it off. If you want to talk about how to work to solve the problem, fine. If you simply want to say that if a man is not like a woman he is sinning, then I don’t think you are in line with the terms stated above.

    • Tony from United States says:

      I looked at your list again. I’m convinced that these are not only men’s traits. POINTS, Women/Wives, You Need to Ask Yourselves, If Any Of These Are True About Your Situations:

      !) My husband comes and communicates with me, only when he wants to know what is for dinner, or wants sex. –Could be my wife. Some days, we both get so busy that the first thing we talk about is what are we doing for dinner.

      2) My husband can be in his cold mode, but instantly changes when our teen daughter walks into the room. Suddenly and magically, he lights up and becomes talkative with her. (This contradicts the lie, that men give about not liking to be talkative) –Seen this happen with my wife as well. It’s cold between us, but her mom or one of her girlfriends calls and she lights up.

      3) Your husband goes into a hypnotic gaze at the tv when his program is on. He pretends he doesn’t hear you ask him a question. — Again my wife. She can get so engrossed in Housewives of… that I have to call her name several times to get her attention.

      4) When his buddy knocks on the door and tells him to step outside or go fishing or riding with him, he gets loud and friendly, not cold and distant, like he is to you. –Don’t really get buddies knocking on the door. Maybe it’s the girls put together a visit to the winery on Facebook and she’s off with her friends.

      5) Your husband is loud when playing cards with his friends — Bunco parties my wife hosts are pretty loud.

      6) Your husband takes his mom’s side if you tell him that his mom insults you often.

      7) He tries to over ride your authority in the delivery room, even though he cannot be in authority over you when you are exposed then, and says it is unfair not to let his mom in there, when you have EXPLICITLY said NO! And anyway, you are the one giving birth with your private parts exposed, not him.

      8) He complains about your housekeeping. –She complains about your cooking/lawn mowing/gardening/how you drive…

      9) You work outside of the home too, but he expects you to cook all of the meals. –You work outside of the home too, but she expects you to mow all the grass, shovel all the snow, do all the car and home maintenance, and you have maid service, but she still can’t be bothered to pick up the dishes and glasses she uses while watching TV, so they are laying in the living room, on her bedside table and you can’t get into the closet because she has it packed with clothes she buys but seldom, or in the case of the ones with the tags still on, never wears.

      10) He thinks it is okay for him to say “We’re pregnant”, not ” My wife is pregnant.” But he distances himself from being close to you any other time. –If he doesn’t say “we’re” pregnant, she looks at him strangely and says “you are in this with me”

      11) Tells people that you spend too much time with the children (Wow!) –Tells people that you don’t spend enough time with me, but when he tries to spend time with you, you are busy with the children or one of your girl-gangs.

      12) He is not the spiritual leader that God has told men to be –She sleeps in when you get up to teach Sunday School and go to worship.

      13) He does not love and honor you like God tells men to. — She does not submit to you like God tells women to.

      14) You worshipped your dad and let him walkk you down the aisle without your mother.

      The point is, for most, and if I really worked hard at it, for all of them, I could find a counter point that demonstrates that women are equally capable of being sinful. Does any of that enumeration resolve the issue? Of course not. The question is, how do you navigate the differences and have a marriage that honors God and builds up both the husband and the wife.

      If both husband and wife were the same, then one would be redundant. Thank God we are different.

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