Marriage Missions International

When You Sense Your Spouse Is Not There For You

Photo credit: Jamie Mellor / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Jamie Mellor / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The need for closeness and the reactions to being disconnected are a natural part of being human in close relationships, especially in a marital relationship. Couples also long for closeness while protecting their hearts from being hurt and devalued. Spouses cling and cry, get angry and protest, or become withdrawn and detached when actually all they long for is closeness and to be valued.

There are ways couples interact that hurt the bond of their relationship. Pursuing and withdrawing is a common way couples relate that often leaves them far apart from each other. Many couples are stuck in a rigid pursue-withdraw cycle of interacting in an attempt to be seen and understood where one partner pursues and, in response, the other withdraws. The more the pursuer pursues, the further the withdrawer pulls away and shuts down.

In the pursue-withdraw cycle, both partners are unable to share what is going on in their heart; they are only able to share their anger, frustration and hurt.

The pursuer feels the loss of his or her partner’s attention, care, or concern and so searches out him or her with anger, frustration, and hurt. The pursuer feels that if he or she does not pursue, he or she will not be seen or understood. Wives, who are usually the pursuers, often say, “I nag because I feel he will not hear me. He’s just not there emotionally. He can’t shut me out like that.”

The with-drawer, overwhelmed by the pursuer’s emotion, feels alienated and helpless in pleasing his or her partner. And so, in protection, the withdrawer pulls away. Husbands, who are often withdrawers, say they are left feeling devalued, disrespected, and unworthy. Unable to calm and soothe their wife, they withdraw to find peace.

Withdrawers frequently walk on eggshells and skirt around issues that may trigger displeasure in their spouse. Oftentimes withdrawers say that attempting to get their point across is not worth the hassle, because they feel that their spouse would not understand them anyway.

The Impact of the Cycle on Your Marriage Bond: When a spouse is busy pursuing or putting a lot of energy into withdrawing, he or she does not have the emotional space to hold his or her partner’s perspective and needs. Couples begin to see each other as unavailable and inconsiderate. They say of each other, “My husband (or wife) just doesn’t understand me. He (or she) isn’t there for me and no longer cares about how I feel.”

Sharing one’s heart freely begins to feel dangerous. Couples say, “There’s no way my spouse would understand me. I learned not to put my heart out there. Risking that would just mean I’d be hurt again.” When husbands and wives emotionally disconnect, their relationship no longer feels safe or secure. They no longer turn toward each other for support or comfort.

What Triggers Your Pursue-Withdraw Cycle: Something happens, and suddenly you see your spouse in a different light. You perceive your spouse to no longer be the kind, thoughtful, loving person you married but rather the person who does not care about you or value your heart. And although you might not doubt your commitment or your love, you, in the moment, dislike your spouse.

We all have had a time when what our spouse did meant to us that they didn’t care. And when you feel your spouse doesn’t care, or is not there for you, your cycle is usually triggered. Too often differences are interpreted as “You don’t value me.”

Mary and Joe are very different from each other. Mary is a night owl and Joe is an early bird. Joe interpreted Mary’s inability to fall asleep at 9:00 P.M. as uncaring and disrespectful. Mary viewed Joe’s request for her to come to bed at 9:00 P.M. as unreasonable and insensitive to her need to relax after a long day at work. Their difference in internal body clocks is not seen as that but rather as the inability of the other to be sensitive and caring. Their differences become a threat to their close attachment bond.

When differences are seen as damaging to the relationship, you and your spouse judge one another as being the enemy rather than friends. Most of the time it was the differences that drew you and your spouse together in the first place. You were outgoing and bold, and your spouse was quiet and gentle. After hurts, disappointments, and inability to talk about the complications and difficulties that arise as a result of being different, the differences in your spouse change from positive to negative.

A connection comes when you and your spouse are able to sit together and risk talking openly. Don’t let the difficulties that differences bring trigger your rigid cycle of criticism, blame, defensiveness, and withdrawal. It is in this cycle that you and your spouse lose sight of each other’s value.

Sharing Heart needs and Longings: As a couple, it is important to talk about the needs, hurts, longings, and feelings of your heart in an open and honest way. In this way you and your spouse can find a path to each other instead of pursuing and withdrawing. Instead of this openness, all too many couples chose the disconnecting path. Or they chose to communicate in ineffective ways.

Expressing your needs and longings to your spouse can be difficult. Some people don’t know what they feel or need. Others feel that if their spouse really loved them, he or she would know what they needed without having to tell them. This expectation is very damaging to the relationship because it keeps your heart’s needs and longings hidden and your pain of being alone heightened. It tempts you to up the ante and angrily pursue your spouse to keep guessing what you need. It also sets up your spouse to withdraw in frustration, because no matter what he or she does, it is just not good enough.

If you are a withdrawer, it will be important for you to share openly and honestly your feelings and needs. Risk being emotionally available to your spouse. It might be important to admit, “I can’t come close to you and be there for you when you are angry and criticizing me.” In this way, you can allow yourself to be there for your spouse in a more open way.

If you are a pursuer, learn to express your heart rather than just getting angry or criticizing. Reach beyond your anger and harsh words to a softer place. From that place, express your longings and fears and ask for your spouse to be there for you. Interactions then won’t revolve around your anger and disappointment. You will both come together around the tender longings of your heart.

Don’t be afraid to admit that sometimes you don’t know what to do. Say something like, “I care for you, but I don’t always know what to say or do.” This invites your spouse to share what they need from you. In this way you are connecting in honesty and warmth instead of anger and defensiveness.

Emotions and Hearts: Couples don’t always know what to do with each other’s emotions. Husbands are taught to buck up and not feel. And wives don’t always know how to express their feelings in a manner that their husbands can hear, understand, and respect. Often spouses fear that their emotions will be found unacceptable or that they will be thought of as weak. How you and your spouse deal with your emotions will be very important to your bond. … So what are you supposed to do with your spouse’s emotions? Try listening.

Listen to your spouse’s emotions with an empathetic attitude. Listen not only with your logic but with your heart as well. Aim to understand your spouse’s heart. To do that you often have to listen beyond the words. You don’t always have to find a solution, fix what is wrong, or solve the problem. Often spouses can’t just listen to their partner’s heart without being defensive, reading into the conversation more than what was intended, or being hurt by what is said. Learn to say, “That must have been difficult.” “Sounds like you had a rough day.” “I would be disappointed if that kept happening to me too.”

Both husbands and wives long to be heard, understood, and respected. Most often your spouse comes to you to share his or her heart and life. Listening is the most powerful way to show your spouse that you understand and accept him or her.

Reconnecting Your Hearts: It will be important for you and your spouse to emotionally reconnect as soon as possible after being hurt and hooked into your cycle. Remember, disconnecting and not talking for days or sweeping the whole encounter under the rug and coming back together to take care of household tasks is not a reconnection of hearts, only of schedules. Unresolved hurts and issues add strain and stress to your haven of safety, and soon you and your spouse learn not to turn toward each other but rather away.


• First, God was wise when he told us not to let the sun go down on our hurts, especially anger. Turn your hearts toward each other as soon as you are able. Before the end of the day is God’s preference.

• Second, come back together and acknowledge what happened. Understand your as well as your spouse’s part of the cycle. Admit to your role in keeping the cycle going. Remember, your bond is more valuable than your being right.

• Third, share your hurts and needs rather than your anger and frustration. Remember you both value the relationship. Neither wants to hurt or be hurt.

• Fourth, when all is said and done, touch and talk to each other in a soft tone of voice, sharing encouraging words. This can be very powerful. The touch of your spouse is physiologically soothing and calming. It assures both of you that the bond is safe and sure.

CREATING CONNECTIONS: There are many ways to build the attachment bond between you and your spouse. Here are three ways that are effective:

• First, pray together daily. Beginning and ending your day in the presence of the Lord not only turns each of your hearts toward each other, it turns your hearts toward the safest place you’ll ever know: in your heavenly Father’s presence. Couples who pray together stay together, because by praying together they’re strengthening the bond between them in the presence of God. That’s powerful.

• Second, believe the best of intentions of your spouse. Your spouse isn’t always out to get you, even though it seems that way at times. You long to be loved and valued, and so does your spouse. Believe that. Be there for each other as God refines and molds each of you into the image of Christ.

• Third, risk doing things differently. Open up your heart and learn how to relate to your spouse in a way that draws you together.

When Your Relationship Is a Safe Place: It will be of great value that the emotional attachment bond between you and your souse becomes close, safe, trustworthy, and predictable. If your marriage is perceived to be a haven of safety, you and your spouse will be a resource for each other and able to withstand the pressures and pains of marriage and life.

But a close attachment bond doesn’t just happen. It is over the course of time and experiences, as each of you interact and respond to each other, that your bond will be nurtured and strengthened. In this way you will experience your relationship as a safe place where your heart can safely be shared and cherished.

This article came from the book, The Complete Marriage Book: Collected Wisdom from Leading Marriage Experts compiled by David and Jan Stoop, published by Fleming H. Revell. Their book contains a wealth of collective wisdom from authors such as Dr Norman Wright, Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, Roger and Becky Tirabassi, Gary and Carrie Oliver, Dave and Claudia Arp, Paul and Jan Meier, Greg and Erin Smalley and more. This particular chapter, in it’s edited form, which is titled “Creating a Safe and Close Connection” was written by Sharon Hart Morris.

— ALSO —

The following is a article written by April Motl, which could be helpful to read:

Making Your Marriage a Safe Haven


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149 Responses to “When You Sense Your Spouse Is Not There For You”
  1. Ashley says:

    (UNITED STATES) My husband after 8 year has told me he’s at peace with how he feels about me. I’m not sure what that means. Any advice?

  2. Deborah says:

    (USA) My husband and I have been married for 6 yrs. We’re both on disability so we have a lot of free time. We were extremely close and did many things together. I noticed a change coming over him right after I bought him an IPad for his Birthday last April. I see him spending almost all his time on it, even taking it to the bathroom 2-3 times a day. I know it’s not porn, but I suspect he’s playing gambling games, so far not for money, but he used to have a gambling problem, so a huge red flag!

    He knows I’m very upset that he is on his IPad so much. The sad thing is I can see how it has taken my place as the number 2 person in his life, God should be the first. We always prayed together every day since we married but stopped right around the time, yes you guessed it, I (ignorantly and stupidly) got the IPad. I feel lonely at times now in my house. I know this has to come out but I have been putting it off because of dreading a confrontation. When I bring it up I know he will be on the defensive. Any thoughts or ideas on how I should approach this? I have taken this to the Lord in prayer.

    • Nicole from Australia says:

      Best not to jump to conclusion about gambling. He may be addicted to Facebook as is my husband at times. Set up schedule of activity so that he is not able to use iPad. I.e. meet at another couple’s house for fun, people who do not have wifi. Then do something you like on your own so that you are busy and not likely to feel lonely. Start a diary and write your emotions and the issues in life. This way you can refine a nice way to have discussion when you do choose a time to talk without getting emotional.

      • Unstable Relationship from United States says:

        I am just the opposite. I am a 48 yr old female and I am the withdrawer and he is the pursuer. I am off and on; I can tolerate him (he is very clingly) for 2 weeks and then for the next 2 weeks I shut down. I get irratible, stressed, cold, emotionless. I try to stay away from my spouse in those 2 weeks to not put that on him, and he takes it the wrong way – he takes personal and it’s putting a strain on this marriage.

        I get happy loving and for 2 weeks we get along, but he takes this middle aged womens symdrom too personal. He thinks I am away emotionally for 2 weeks because I must be doing inconsiderate and unloyal things and this is not the case; they dont come as loyal as me. I’m just saying I tell him I just become friged every 2 weeks, I’ve spoken this to him over and over about my cycle.

        His gripe is he needs this closeness; he needs this bond when he needs it. I told him that’s an unrealistic need. I tell him I wish I could stop this cycle. I’ve tried excersing, eating healthier foods; I’ve prayed about this over and over. My husband drinks and is on heart meds for heart problems and that alone is an emotional strain on me. But he had his emotional heart problem before his sickness. He now goes out and has lots of female friends who are just as unrully as him and drink none the less. I however do not pratice such lawlessness. I don’t appreciate him making excuses.

        I feel misunderstood and unappreciated, and he does as well. We have been married for 4 yrs. and it’s not that I dont want to be married to him or be with him but his constant need for affection with no space in between and his constant ill behavior because of this supposed need, it’s not just a need once a day or 5 times a week, he describes this need as to not be able to breathe without it.

        I feel like he uses my cycle as an excuse to be unloyal to me, though I cant say he has been unfaithful. I don’t have proof, but he is away at a party without me and there is drinking and he takes his ring off. Why do I stand by him is beyond me. (MISS Misunderstood) I love him enough to stay with Him; that’s unconditional while his love for me is I love you only when you love me. So unfair. Love is a choice not a condition. He puts condtions, that I dont even dare do. Should I say to him? You cant have female friends or drink, or I wont love you when you do those things???.

    • Curtis from United States says:

      My wife is addicted to that IPad!! It is with her no matter where we go… I too feel like I’ve been replaced with this infernal contraption! It interferes with all aspects of our marriage… and I mean ALL. I wish I had never bought it for her. I had thought about somehow damaging it beyond repair, but she would only go out and replace it the next day. I’ve never disliked a inanimate object such as this in my life! It has all but ruined our intimate time together!

      • Cindy Wright from United States says:

        Curtis, What you’re saying here is happening in literally millions of homes. People are looking away from their one-on-one real relationships, and are instead substituting them for the surface “relationships” and info gathering they can find through their electronic devices –iPads, phones, computers, etc, etc. They can’t seem to get enough of them. It’s a HUGE problem in more homes and marriages than you could ever imagine. Just go into a restaurant and look around in stores, and public places and you’ll see more people than not texting, talking on phones, and playing on their tablets and such. That doesn’t even take into account what is happening at home. It’s happening in epidemic proportion; it’s sad, and it’s serious.

        You’re right about not damaging the iPad. My guess would be that your wife would see that as a serious threat to her “well-being” and it could seriously damage your relationship, even more than what’s going on (or what’s NOT going on) in your marriage right now. Please don’t do it. Here’s a link to one of the articles posted on our web site: that I recommend you read and share with your wife. Take out the word Facebook (if it doesn’t apply), and put in the word Social Media and you’ll gain valuable insight. Plus, here’s an article I found that might also help:

        I hope you can figure out a way to talk to your wife at a non-threatening time, and in a way that shows your concern, more than your anger. A softened approach can help. You need to try to figure out what boundaries you both can come up with so she can enjoy the iPad, WITHIN REASON, and you can still have one-on-one personal time with your wife, as every married couple should have. It’s just like with video games, TV, phones, and the like, there needs to be balance involved.

  3. Constance from Cameroon says:

    Hi, I have a problem and I need help. My fiancé spends weeks without calling me and that seems not to bother him. I am really worried because I feel I am not valued and if we finally get married he may continue with this attitude. How can I break this silence without hurting him?

    • Tony from United States says:

      Not sure I know how to resolve it. What I would caution is that if it’s not good now, I wouldn’t expect it to get better when you are married. Perhaps the most kind thing you can do is NOT marry him, put some expectations on him that he is unwilling or unable to meet, then have a miserable marriage and/or an ugly divorce.

      • JBK from United States says:

        Tony is 100% correct. Getting married will never improve issues. They will still be there, just exacerbated by the additional pressures of a marriage. Getting married is never a solution to any pre-marital problems. Good luck.

  4. Chawniece from United States says:

    My husband of six years is angry because I can’t find a job. He thinks I don’t want to work and I want to finish school so I have some leverage in the market. This has been an ongoing struggle and is driving me crazy. It has been two days and he won’t talk to me. I am lonely in this situation. I am also away from my family who has been my support system before I got married. I don’t know what to do. I have tried talking to him and he cuts me short and is very distant. I need help. I have been praying but this is hurtful and I really wish that either the marriage is over or he sits down with me and discusses this matter.

    • Nicole from Australia says:

      Listen to your husband’s reason for anger. Does he believe he is carrying all the financial burden? Are you pulling your weight in other ways? I.e. domestic responsibilities? Is getting a part time or casual work an option for you? If you are studying full time, that is hard work too. However, people have the perception having a job is harder, whether it is right or wrong. Manage both your stress by meditation, exercise, outline a short term and medium term plan as to your study schedule and the time to getting a job if possible.

  5. Amy from United States says:

    We’ve been married for over 45 years. The disconnection happened the day after our wedding night. We had sex once in all those years. He hated sex, thought is was disgusting, smelly, messy, not worth the effort, very emotionless and something that two humans should never do. After we were done he threw up and said that sex will never happen again.

    Since day one hes lived in the basement and I upstairs. He also worked midnights, holidays, weekends and never took his vacations. I never knew what went wrong or why. I do know it has nothing to do with me. But it made me dependant on my shrink and anti-depressant drugs.

    • Sara from Sri Lanka says:

      The same thing happened to my aunt. She had sex only once in her life and the first shot it worked and she had a child. We all knew he hated sex. My aunt wanted to divorce him once but a counsellor had told her that she has food, clothing and shelter, so not to do it. Shes been married from 1985. I m sorry.

  6. Lisa from United States says:

    My husband and I have been married for 16 years and dated for over 6 years before marrying. I feel we have definitely grown apart. We have an 11 year old son and a 15 year old daughter who does not live with us. He drinks a lot and smokes a lot and will only talk when he’s under the influence. That’s when he talks too much and the effort for being heard is exhausting for me. Our sex life has also changed. We used to be intimate at least twice a week and now it’s more like once every other month. Since my daughter is not in the home I sleep in her room. He’s not good with managing his money and I believe that’s the only reason he wants to be with me. It’s like he has a fear of being in control of life on his own. We own a home and I would like my life to be a little more fulfilled than it is. My son is the only thing keeping us together. Maybe it’s time to go our separate ways. I’m currently unemployed and would just like to be happy if it’s meant to be.

  7. Ann from United States says:

    My husband of 23 years had an affair and has since come home to repair our marriage. In couples therapy he said he had nothing more to give. He said he will always love me but he is numb and can not meet my emotional or physical (hugging, kissing) needs. He said we have a comfortable life and he is trying to reset himself to be the husband I deserve and not the husband he has become (distant).

    His response to me is hot and cold. One minute he takes my hand, the next he pulls away as if I have burned him. I have been reading affair recovery books and attending workshops; every thing says to remind him of our early years. Hug him, kiss him, tell him I love and appreciate him. I have been doing those things for weeks but now I feel like I’m the one running after him and appear desperate. I want to save my marriage and I want to be happy again.

    My husband is not a beleiver in prayer and I am at a loss what to do. I thought we had a good marriage. He said the affair (1 night stand & 4+ months of phone calls) happened because he was feeling “Is this all there is to life?”. He was turning 50 and I am disabled. We have been working through things and I thought we were doing good until his comment about meeting my needs and how he can’t. He has said that I need to decide if I can live with him the way he is. He hasn’t changed in 25 years I’ve known him. The big change/shock was the affair. Now suddenly he has nothing to give me. I am very confused!

  8. Michele from United States says:

    My husband is being hard-hearted. He chose his adoptive mother over me. My grandson was really sick and I told him to stay home just in case if my daughter needs him to take my grandson to E.R. He commented by saying that he needs to see his adoptive mom, which really turned me off. I went to work at the meantime I gave my daughter my work phone number. I just started working, my daughter called me and ask for a ride. I texted my husband and he said “I just got here at my mom’s hotel, I need to visit with her.” I was like wow. He picks his adoptive mom over me. Again, she is not GOD!

    So I went ahead and left my job to take them to the ER and I texted my husband to pick them up at the hospital when they are done. I had to stay other 2 hours working because of him not helping me out with transportation. I worked overnight and I got off at 7:00 am and I have to go back to work at 6:00 pm. I only had 3 hrs sleep. I am exhausted. I researched on online saying if I don’t really rest a lot it will KILL me… meaning he kills me by not being rested?

    My daughter told me that my husband drove reckless. But he said he didn’t. I don’t know who tells the truth, but my point is that he needs to knock off and be a father/grandpa role model for my family. In that case, he’s a mommy boy. So does that mean he loves me and my family or what? Help!! Confused, Thanks

  9. Joanna from United States says:

    Hi I’m really in need of some advice. I recently have been hurting (emotionally). I have not had a single day with my husband without getting into an argument. We even came back a day early from our planned vacation trip (in which we had been looking forward to for months!) just because we could not get along.

    Well, it seems in my eyes that whenever and I mean WHENEVER I speak up to my husband about how I feel after he does something to me that I don’t like or appreciate he seems to overpower me and fights back with something that I had done to anger him a day before or so and slams down what I had just tried to talk to him about that happend that same day. I feel so low and distant from him these days. I know I’ve been upsetting him by speaking up about things that I don’t like & it just seems like stuff just comes up 24/7. I try not to always nag about something but then he’ll do something that I can’t handle and he’ll yell back at me. It will escalate from there. I don’t know how to talk to him! If I bring up (whatever the situation is) anything to him it just makes him upset. It doesn’t matter either what tone of voice!

    I just feel so unsure if he even cares about me anymore, I feel like he doesn’t listen nor want to try and actually solve things! I’m always left feeling unheard! Please help..

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Joanna, You and your husband need to negotiate peace agreements, much like arguing countries should do (and some are and have). You need to sit down at a time (or several times) when there isn’t an argument going on and decide together on how you can talk about problems, when they arise, without the situation getting volatile. Every couple has differences. Those differences need to be worked through somehow without having them causing a growing divide between you. With most differences it’s not about one being right and the other wrong (unless we’re talking moral issues)… but how you can bridge the differences so they work for both of you –not just one.

      You may need a marriage-friendly counselor to help you figure out some kind of plan, and/or we have communication tools posted on this web site, which could help you if you apply them. We use some of them ourselves and we’ve been married 42+ years. We all have differences that come up and posture themselves to divide us. Don’t let them. Be determined about this. You are supposed to be a marriage team, not opponents. Act like it.

      What I’m thinking with your husband is that he is falling into one of the traps we can easily get ourselves into (we’ve done it sometimes). It’s when the other spouse approaches us either at the wrong time (we’re in a bad mood, hungry, or tired, etc.), or in a way that seems disrespectful, or approaches us with circumstances that we don’t want to work on or face… we will then resort to “right fighting.” We will somehow try to change it so that the other spouse looks at fault in some way. It takes the spotlight off of what’s really going on and shifts it in another direction.

      Right fighting is problematic on many levels and essentially sabotages us from being able to work on what’s really the problem. It’s actually dirty fighting. It’s something most of us have to work on so we stop doing it. It’s often a default that we gravitate to, that we learned earlier in life. It’s easy to fall into and hard to break. But it IS something we can learn to stop doing if we will own up to it and learn communication skills, which are healthier.

      It sounds like you and your husband need to learn how to communicate in healthier ways. Obviously, the ways you’ve been doing it aren’t working. It’s not a matter of whether your husband “cares” about you… it’s a matter of learning how to better work out your differences and find ways to stockpile good feelings for each other so that when troubles come, which they always will in life, you can better combat the problems, rather than each other. Then you won’t wonder if the other spouse cares or not… you will know they do, but that you have problems to work out. My husband and I had to learn several different skills to better help grow our marriage relationship. These things didn’t come naturally. Just like skills you have to learn to do your job at work. In order to do what needs to be done, you have to learn some things.

      In marriage, we often have to UN-learn some things and learn other things. Couples don’t realize that. But once we put the effort into doing that, it’s AMAZING how good your relationship can get. Trust me on this, I’ve been there. I hope you and your husband will put the effort into doing what it takes to get to a better place in your marriage. It’s SO worth it!

  10. Kenneth from United States says:

    She looks me in the face and states a fact I should already know, and makes me feel stupid. My dad made me feel stupid my whole life. We are in counseling, but it is not helping right now. I never used to ask questions in school or give my input because people would think I was stupid. I am trying very hard not to withdraw. Her childhood was much more abusive than mine. I’m just looking to vent and have some positive reinforcement. I feel like I could use some positive feedback because I love her.

  11. Lonely Wife from Bahamas says:

    I met my husband to be 4 and a half years ago and we have been married for 4yrs. During our brief courtship, we talked, laughed, shared, supported and openly loved each other. However, our intimacy at that time had been very limited. When we were intimate, he would be the initiator. I pretty much paid for our wedding and have been assuming 90% of our living expenses since our marriage. While he makes an income (on jobs that I have secured for him) I am the main breadwinner and therefore I don’t pressure him to pay any bills in the house.

    When we got married, he moved into my home and I went out of my way to make him feel at home… against the strong opinions of my family… including my kids. He is self employed and only works about 3 nights per week, for an average of 3 – 4 hrs each night. This means that he’s home during the day. I work a full time, very demanding job Mondays thru Fridays and sometimes on weekends. Some days I drop in at home or I work from home. It hurts me when I’m working so hard and he’s home watching movies or sleeping. I’ve tried to talk with him about it but he becomes defensive and non-responsive.

    Right after we got married, he confided in me that he was on medication for anxiety attacks and high blood pressure and one of the side effects of these medications was erectile dysfunction. I accepted this news calmly and recommended him to a doctor whom I thought would be able to wean him off of this medication. He was open to this, and it appeared he was progressing well in getting off of the meds. We eventually went from having sex once every 3 months to having sex once or twice a month. That lasted for a short while but within 3 months, we were back to having no sex life.

    I accepted and tried to be understand of his challenges but he would never show any type of affection unless I brought it up. And when he did this, it would be difficult for me to respond because it would seem so contrived. I’m talking about a simple “you look lovely”. A simple kiss. Hug. “I appreciate you”… give me something! Anything to make me feel loved and honored.

    One time when I spoke with him about our sex life, he advised that he was having issues being turned on by me because he found me to be too dominant. I felt this was just an excuse because I had always gone over and beyond to show him love and affection. I would be the one to always initiate a kiss, hug, or any form of affection. I’m naturally affectionate. Every night I would automatically caress him and I’d frequently tell him how I feel about him. I do love him. I’d often buy him something that I see he needs. If he needs anything, I’d be the 1st to see that he gets it. Nothing is too good for him.

    I’m very concerned that our relationship is growing more and more distant by the day. I was once married for 16 years and it worries me that I’m experiencing the same feelings of distance and withdrawal so early in our marriage. I’m still as loving and affectionate as I can be, but I get nothing in return from him.

    We have a live in Housekeeper… so he does no housework at all. I cannot depend on him for minor repairs around the house because he makes it clear that he doesn’t know how to do such tasks. If I don’t point things out to him and ask him repeatedly to look after things, he simply wouldn’t. Once in a while he would cook -maybe once every 2 months. Other than that, we would have to eat out. Which is expensive for us.

    My parents are both aging with health issues and they live with me. I’m pretty much their guardian. My father is bedridden and my mom has various health challenges. They were living with me before we got married and I made it clear that I didn’t need another burden but rather someone who could help us. He seemed to be open to accepting this role. Yet now, we’re timid in asking him to assist us in any way. My father has to be lifted in and out of bed. Yet my husband would stay in his room on his computer all day working, surfing, or watching movies, while my mother frequently struggles with the housekeeper to lift my father.

    Last week, he had my car and therefore he was picking me up from work. After an extremely stressful day, I called him to let him know I would be 20 minutes late in getting off. That turned out to be 25 minutes by he time I got to the car. Of course, just as I feared, he had to bring this to my attention. 5 minutes? Really?

    He is easy going and therefore pretty easy to get along with and I think that’s how we were able to keep this marriage together for the past 4 years. He closes up or makes excuses every time I attempt to speak with him about my concerns. Then he starts critiquing me and finds a way to make everything my fault. In public, I feel he puts on a facade as though everything is great. But behind close doors, we are just roommates.

    The fact is, I’m too embarrassed to let my family or friends know how I’m feeling, as they cautioned me strongly against getting married to him. I also don’t want to lose him because I do truly love him. I just don’t know what else to do. I have no problem at all acknowledging areas where I could improve, but this has to be 2-way. He never, ever acknowledges any shortcomings. We have spoken about going to marriage counseling, but again, it’s up to me to make the arrangements and take this on… I can’t continue to do it.

  12. Joyce from United States says:

    My husband and I have been together on & off for about 30 years! Even at the off times he was still in my life, the most defuclt thing for me after all our time together is knowing what to do when my husband is mad at me whether I did something or not!

    Example, a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday morning we were having coffee just talking about the day before & what to have dinner ect.. I was doing some dishes, asking if he would like me to cook some breakfast. While talking he started to say something at the same time I did or maybe a second before I did! This started a huge argument about how I don’t listen to him & don’t care about what he has to say & then I explained how I didn’t mean to do it & I had a thought & I just said it etc.

    From there it went to a no talking for 4 or 5 days; he would text when it was important. Now a week later again we’re not talking or he said not to even look at him.

    Another time after a dinner party he got angry over me asking if he got heartburn from the food. He looked like he did at the dinner! He’s furious over me looking at him while he ate?!? I don’t get it! I’m like in the house staying up stairs maybe unti Monday when he goes to work. What should I do?

  13. Mimi from Canada says:

    I feel like a table with one leg broken and tilted (uneven/unbalanced) after learning of marital betrayal 8wks ago. My heart is dry of real affection. I live in pretense! Anniversary is coming in a couple of weeks and I don’t know how to deal with it all.

  14. Nevada from United States says:

    Been married 21 yrs & kids grown. Kids are embarking on college. This is the epitome of our relationship. I’m in so much pain because I NEED to feel loved. There is NO emotional relationship, no companionship, it doesn’t even feel like we’re friends. Instead it’s a cruel existence. My spouse goes into their world of work, & when home stares at the television.

    I’ve been bringing this up for years, I feel constantly postponed. Continuing in this kind of relationship is killing me inside. My spouse is merely waiting for me to walk away, cheat, or die. Marriage is the worst thing I have ever endured. A painful experience not anything like I hoped. I feel desperate. Like I’m walking a fine line, thoughts of ending my life, thoughts & temptations to be unfaithful.

    How can one person TORTURE thier spouse by leaving them to feel so ALONE! I’ve prayed for years. Counseling never did a thing because my spouse is just going through the motions, u& doesn’t embrace relationship advice. Hope hurts. I’ve lived a life wishing waiting hoping… It’s all a waste! Both people have to want success.

    • Dawn from United States says:

      I certainly understand where you are at my friend. I have the exact same husband. I’ve tried for years asking God to place some kind of love in his heart for me. I’m still waiting to feel any kind of emotion from him. I guess we either have to accept the fact that God loves us, and He does place value on me, and hold our families together. We’ll have grandchildren one day, and they would be better off seeing a family together than separated. I don’t want to be alone! I wish my husband knew how much more I would be if I felt like he really loved me and really liked who I am as a person. I will be lifting you and your husband up in prayer, and I hope you will do this for me too. Lets do something extra special for him this week out of the ordinary and share our experiences.

  15. Dawn from United States says:

    My husband does not even seem like he cares about making me feel happy. It really crushes me inside. I can count on two hands maybe, how many times I’ve gotten a compliment from him in 24 years of marriage. It’s so hurtful. However, this same man takes care of me; I know he is loyal to me, is honest, and wants to provide and make vacations happen for our family of seven. But yet has no ability to connect with any of us. It’s almost like I’m more of a burden to have to be emotionally attached to for him.

    I want desperately to feel like he can meet me where I’m at. I will encourage him, let him know verbally how much I appreciate all he does, build him up, make sure he feels valued, but yet he doesn’t care about me. Oh, he says he does, and probably really does, but WHY can’t he just use his words and actions in a more affirming way towards me? I know that I’m not perfect, but neither is he. I’m made to feel inadequate, while I feel like I’m making him feel great.

    I tried to share my heart with him about how he made me feel, and he just seems annoyed and walks out. I’m so tired. He exhausts me anymore. I need help, before I go out of my mind. Sometimes I feel like if it weren’t for our kids we would have nothing, or I know I wouldn’t. He, on the other hand, I know would miss me, and I think in his heart that I’d miss him, but he hasn’t given me much to miss. I’m just being honest here. Please don’t send me email back, but reply on this site only as he could read this and be hurt. Thank you.

  16. Ry from United States says:

    Sadly, I’m in the same boat. We’ve been married less than a year. About 3 months into our marriage, things really broke down and he agrees. The issue is, he isn’t willing to listen to me or change while I’m constantly listening to him and offering changes I can make to make him happy. The list of what’s wrong is getting insanely long, I feel so lost, hurt and overwhelmed I’m ready to give up.

    Conversations are to be started only by him. I am to engage but never start one. If I do, he rolls his eyes, sighs and will even walk out the door. Less offensive, he just checks out and looks away. Consequently, I’ve stopped trying to talk and then he asks me what’s wrong. When I explained this cycle he denies it. He tells me I need to get thicker skin. Then tell me I start the fights, he just getting stuff off his chest.

    He hardly ever wants to take me outside the house. When we do, he explodes in anger, blames his anger on me, tells me he will never go out with me again. He has even turned us around and gone home. If we’re lucky enough to make it out, he NEVER tells me I look good that night or anything like that. But he’ll spend our evening not speaking to me and looking at all the other women and point them out to me and tell me they’re HOT. He even took several picture of one of these “hotties” with my new camera we had taken out on a date for me to learn how to use. Grabbed it out of my hand and snapped away while point out how smoking hot she was.

    He starts fights by insulting me. They often come out of nowhere and are not my fault. I used to defend myself and tell him his words hurt me but that made him explode and the fights would last for weeks. I now try and let it go and when he gets in my face because I’m not reacting I’ll remove myself. But that makes it worse. The last time I tired that he told me our romantic weekend was canceled and he didn’t want to even see me. I took myself camping for the night and came home to find messages from him to his friends that I was cheating on him!

    He sabotages every special event we have planned. He starts fights and then withdraws from them and then tells me he will never try to do whatever it was (birthdays, camping) with me again. He leaves for work at 5:15 am. Work opens at 8. He has hours there alone… and can leave when he wants he adds new females to his facebook page all the time and I have no idea how he’s meeting them. He makes comment to them like “You make me feel like a man.” It would be easy for him to have an affair but he tells me all the time he doesn’t trust me because I work. Go to our apartment gym (with my 15 year old son)v–I no longer go.

    He openly flirts in front of me and encourages the other women to flirt back in front of me. Tells me his 1st wife is twice the woman I’ll ever be. Told me his last girl friend was fat at 130 pounds after I mentioned I’d gotten up to 125. Save pictures of naked women with the bodies he really likes –he says mine is not his type but it’s “fine” –and then tells me they’re for friends.

    He NEVER helps around the house. I do everything, even pick his clothing and shoes off the floor. And never thanks me for any of it. Last night I made cupcakes for this weekend and cleaned so we could leave and come back to a clean house. I brought him a cupcake and milk to him as a treat while I still hadn’t sat down in hours. He said thank you but didn’t seem very impressed by it.

    I just feel like I’m nothing to him. He used to brag to his friends he married his best friend. I finally told him, he’s not even my friend, a friend would never treat another the way he treats me.

    • Heather from United States says:

      Ry, It sounds as though he has been pushing you to see what he can get away with, and disrespecting you -as hard as it is, my recommendation is to pray to God for the ability to truly love and respect yourself. Once you stop trying to cater to him and are aware of your own value and love yourself, it will change the dynamic. I understand your frustration, it’s disheartening and painful to go through this, but seeking God first and seeing yourself the way God sees you will bring you the love you are really seeking. Your husband may or may not be able to be there for you emotionally, but you can be there for yourself.

      I recommend envisioning all the times God has been there for you and ask Him to reveal His love for you, and focus on that daily. Stand on the strength and courage to do what needs to be done. I believe God does want to save marriages, but he wants to heal and sanctify and draw us closer to Him even more.

  17. Samantha from South Africa says:

    Hi I am in need of some advice. I love my husband dearly. We have been together for 9 years and married for 2. I feel he puts his mother before me, and to make it worse she lives on our property in the flat. I cannot handle it anymore. She is always around; we don’t have a normal life. I tend to vent my frustration to him. I also feel he is distant from me. Whatever I ask I have to ask a few times. His mother just asks once and it’s done. I also, most of the time, initiate sex and he turns me down a lot. I have never refused him sex and feel so neglected. When I try to talk to him about it he says I nag too much and am hard work and says if he is tired then he is tired. Please help me.

    • Sam from United States says:

      Sorry to hear of your troubles. I pray you can resolve your issues with your husband and that he will be open to listening to your feelings. It’s very tough not having someone listen to what you are saying.

  18. Sam from United States says:

    Hello, I am going through a health crisis with my lower back. Eight years ago I was diagnosed with a herniated disk and I have degeneration in my L5-S1. I recently jumped in a swimming pool and landed flat-footed, re-injured my back. I have a neurologist who is skeptical that I even have a problem with my disk, even though I’ve had other doctors to recognize and diagnose my problem.

    My wife has not been very supportive of me during this time. I’m undergoing physical therapy and it’s helping only a little, and at work, on my lunch hour I have to go lie in my vehicle to get relief from sitting so much, which doesn’t help my back.

    This morning, she attempted to suggest that I just have RLS, Restless-leg. I felt insulted and injured that she wouldn’t stand by me, when I say that I have a back problem with sciatica because the nerve is being compressed in my back. She thinks of one doctor cannot be wrong? I really need to change doctors.

    Anyway, I am dealing with a health crisis of my own, and I can’t feel that I have the support of my spouse. We’re both Christians, but something isn’t connecting between us, that we show compassion on the other. I’m becoming resentful of her, and how she won’t listen and stand by me.

  19. Tiffany from United States says:

    My husband and I have a very hard time understanding each other. He and I are going through hardships and it seems to drive me crazy. It’s like a mental game or something. Soon as we got married November 2013 things start happening instantly. In December 2013 he started to swell in and out of work on the edge of losing his job. March 2014 I purchased a house. Things went ok but still a little on rick bottom he couldn’t help me with and on the closing costs or the present bills plfom past house we were renting.

    But in April he was let go from his job. Things got really tough, no income from him to help me out, no job, health problems and then he started hanging outside all time of the night. So I told him to apply for unemployment. He finally did that after about 2 months, which it was now June 2014 and he got about 2 weeks pay from that and helped me. I was very thankful for that. Then he went to go file and they say he exhausted his funds so there goes our money. And did I forget to mention in March he found out he has a tumor and we are dealing with that, also back and forth to hospitals, so on, so forth.

    So we are battling these months trying to keeps things together. I’m breaking down with just the thought of thinking about it wondering what I’m going to do. I’m the only one working and my little 80.00 hour biweekly is just enough to pay the bills we have, little children, and my husband is diagnosed and swelling, with no income. So it was hard for me. I’m trying to find balance. And while all this is going on my husband is always down and out when he’s in the house I am worried about what’s going to happen. How am I going to make things happen? Not to mention, he watches the kids and he is supposed to be getting chemo treatment. But everytime he gets a chance he runs outside with his friends and family and has a blast, comes home whatever times, and is happy as ever when he comes back.

    He says I’m always so depressed, don’t talk to him, don’t do anything, and he doesn’t want to do that. He says he’s having a hard time himself and he has it hard because he’s the one with the actual tumor. So ok, I’m upset but a little understanding that he is going through something but it still doesn’t make it right for him to hang out all times of the night. I told him how I felt he told me how he felt. I one day broke down to him about everything that’s going on and balancing all this, even asked if his sister or someone can help me out and he says no, she has her own life. So I suggested getting him a nurse or sending him to a nursing home or rehabilitation center so he can get proper care when I am at work. And I will try to put kids in day care.

    I told him this is too much for me; I don’t think I can do it. I’m doing a lot as it is and I have to deal with his attitude and hanging out all night on top of it. So we had tension after that, not really talking to one another, walking back and forth everyday with things on our mind. Sometimes he will go out hang out most of those day while I’m in the house with the kids getting ready for the next day and depressed about all that’s going on.

    One day he stayed out for days. He came home and that night I asked him to say grace and he said he didn’t want to. I asked why, trying to get an understanding of why wouldn’t someone want to say grace. That escalated and before you know it he told me I don’t care about him and I don’t do anything for him. I told him if I don’t do anything for you now, I can’t for you tomorrow, so you can leave. He says you want me to leave like I was bluffing and I said yeah. He packed all his stuff, left, and was gone for a week. I didn’t talk to him, see him, nothing. I had to find someone to watch the kids and everything. Even texted him to come sign papers for the baby to go to daycare. He didn’t respond or anything.

    I was so fed up I filed divorce papers. Then later on he contacts me, we talk about it, and he still doesn’t understand why I got upset about him telling me I don’t care for him. He held tight on the fact I put him out and he says I don’t do anything for him because if he lives here or not I still have bills. But my husband doesn’t realize I put up with a lot from him and he totally unappreciated me. And did I forget to mention my huband had a colostomy bag on after we first start dating and got a reverse so now his poop is loose? He often poops on himself at night while we’re sleeping, changes covers about every other day.

    But I still love and cherish him the same way and tell him it’s going to be ok, building his self esteem all. But he continues to unappreciate and disrespect me. He’s back home when he wants to and if he’s feeling some type of way one night he just gets up, leaves, and goes to his sister’s house where he took all his stuff and tells me I’m feeling some type of way about you putting me out. It doesn’t feel like my home once you put me out. But you be here 7 days in a row, we had then one good night, you just woke up, got out the bed and felt this way. I really feel like my husband is full of it and manipulates a lot. But maybe it’s me. But this whole thing drives me insane. I am going to seek counseling this week. We already talked to the pastor about it, but things still seem to be sour.

  20. Laura from United States says:

    My husband cheated on me in front of my face with my ex best friend. Lied to me for a year and half and then when I made up my mind I was through he confesses to everything. Not only did he cheat with her but 5 other women. He never had a problem having sex with me while he was cheating but now he claims he isn’t and has no interest in me.

    I’ve told him over and over that I’m not happy and I know he isn’t either or he wouldn’t have treated me and our marriage the way he has. He insists that he’s happier now than he has ever been. It clearly makes me feel like he looks at me as something he owns and doesn’t want anyone else to have me, no matter how unhappy I am. I want him to be happy and he has shown me how unhappy he is with me. He’s the one who refuses to let go. We have no kids together and there’s no reason for us to be together anymore. When I leave he chases me and lies and says that he loves me and wants this but I know it’s all just manipulation. It’s all about control and I feel smothered and want to run as far away as I can from him.

  21. Jian from United States says:

    I expressed my feelings and needs (emotional support –need physical hugs) to my husband several times. I also picked the occasions that I believe that it’s the right time for us to talk and share. However, my husband thinks that it’s too much pressure (stresses) to him. To him, it seems that I’m pushing him to do things for me, even if hugging me more when he’s available. I don’t know how to express myself to him anymore because I don’t want to give him the stresses (that he thinks).

    I often feel lonely because even if my husband is home because he doesn’t hug me or sit next to me. He would sit apart from me to play with his cell phone (games, text messages, etc.). Even if I got up at night to cry in front of the fireplace, he would just go to sleep without checking on me. My feelings are hurt, but I can’t express it to him anymore because I just don’t want him to think that I give him pressure again with any related conversations (open heart talks). Now what I can do is to read more related articles (helpful information) online and pray often daily.

    Could you please advise any information that might help to control my emotions because I still want to save my marriage (and I still love my husband deeply). Thanks for allowing me to write my words.

    • Alicia from United States says:

      My husband is the same way with me. When I try to talk he doesn’t hear me or will say he will try harder but doesn’t follow through… things are getting so much worse.

  22. Juliet from United States says:

    I completely agree with this article. Whenever I feel hurt by my husband emotionally, after a little cooling off and thinking time, I confront him about whatever it was, and try and tell him how it made me feel. I’m really emotional so it takes a lot of strength for me to even explain how I feel without crying (especially if it’s something that really got to me or something I feel was really insensitive).

    He, on the other hand, just says things like “no I didn’t mean that” “you’re overreacting” and basically just negates whatever I say. He’s not doing it just to be mean or uncaring, he really believes that what he said or did is completely justifiable, even if I’m telling him how much it hurt me.

    He’s a loving husband and I don’t question that, but sometimes it’s really hard to work through problems when he barely responds to my deep emotional side. He deals with things more matter or factly and usually thinks that his way is logical. He even flips things around and gets upset that I’m even upset at him to begin with. I’m also 7 months pregnant, and I especially need emotional support at this time. I love him to pieces, but how do I connect better with him and sort out issues that come up?

  23. Kristin from United States says:

    Been married 22 years. My husband, he doesn’t see this. The way you have described this situation. I see it, and feel it. I asked, for example, if we could spend an afternoon watching movies and relaxing in our home this weekend, we didn’t. But we haven’t for a very long time, since we moved here in October and before that for many months. So I asked this weekend, I asked both days, I didn’t get angry when he didn’t do it, but this weekend was Feb 28 and March 1. Then I viewed the calendar. The next time we have possible that we will be together in our home is May 1st. So basically he avoided me and the great value I find in relaxing. Now it won’t be until May 1st that we could even consider doing that again. Not good, I’m not keen on how our lives are scheduled.

    I don’t like it. I have no control and just wish I could feel I was an equal to someone. I wish I felt important to him. He says he loves me, says I matter, but I don’t see or feel anything from him. His actions do not reflect that.

    Yesterday I was in mid sentence to my daughter’s boyfriend, MID SENTENCE, and my husband just started talking over me. How invisible can you feel? My daughter’s boyfriend laughed at him and said “your wife is talking.” It was embarrassing to be so ignored. He didn’t apologize. He didn’t even see what he had done. I am invisible. I am soon to be divorced, but HATE divorce.

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