When you are trying to save your marriage and your spouse distances himself/herself either emotionally, physically or both, you feel more alone than you ever imagined possible. You can very well understand why God said the words, “It is not good for man to be alone.“ Being alone when you’re in a marriage is NOT the plan you had. You never thought that you would be dealing with an emotionally distant spouse.
But how do you get past the walls that have built up between you and your spouse? Is there a door that can be constructed so the husband and wife are no longer emotionally shut off to one another?
Dealing with an Emotionally Distant Spouse
Yes, there is, but unfortunately, this is not something that can be accomplished overnight. Many different things went into building those walls. And it will take a lot of effort and time to dismantle them. And it may be that your spouse is not open to participating with you and God in this… at least in the beginning. And frankly, maybe ever.
But we have to say, that it’s well worth the effort and work to try. Because in doing so, you could open a whole new world up to your spouse and in your own life in relationship with him or her.
I know, I have been there with my husband. And with prayer and perseverance to do as God lead, in the timing that truly worked (rather than my misguided timing), God opened doors that I only dreamed was possible. And now, as I look back, I think about all the blessings I could have missed out on, and all my husband would have missed, if I had given up too soon. How sad that would have been for us and our families and friends. Plus the fact we would not have been able to participate with God in this awesome ministry.
I have to reiterate though, that perseverance is a big part of what it will take for the eventual blessing —perseverance in hand with prayer to the Lord for guidance.
Persevere, As Hard As It Is
As difficult as it is, God tells us that perseverance is a virtue that we are to strive after. How I wish it weren’t true. Like most human beings, I like things to come easy. Some of us think that as children of God, we’re entitled to certain “privileges” and answers to prayer in a shorter time frame. That makes sense to us.
If we think that way, we’re wrong. On this side of heaven, we aren’t promised an easy life —one that isn’t so troublesome. As a matter of fact, there are a number of warnings in the Bible that we will experience Trials and Tribulations.
Concerning marriage, the Apostle Paul warned us about that. It’s written in 1 Corinthians 7:28, “Those who marry will face many troubles in this life.“ He put out that warning to “spare” us from thinking otherwise.
That’s where prayerful perseverance and trust in God becomes important. There are many verses in the Bible that encourages us to persevere even when we want to give up.
Among them are:
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial. Because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.“ (James 1:12)
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.“ (Galatians 6:9)
“Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
A few insights on the emotionally distant spouse issue:
In dealing with the dilemma of being married to an emotionally distant spouse, the following are a few insights and a few questions that might help you that Dr Gary Chapman brings out in his book, “Loving Solutions”:
There are many reasons why some spouses become uncommunicative. Their unwillingness to share verbally finds its root in what is going on inside of them. Often it is unmet needs in the marital relationship that have stimulated resentment in the spirit of the silent spouse. His silence is a way of expressing this resentment. It is his/her way of saying, “I don’t like you, so I will treat you as a non-person.”
I don’t mean that the silent partner is consciously thinking these thoughts; I mean these are the inner emotional reasons why he or she is not talking. If we can discover the emotions inside the person and the factors that give rise to these emotions, we are well on the way to helping the non-communicating spouse to break his/her silence.
The spouse who seeks to be a positive change agent would do well to ask this question: “Does my spouse have an unmet emotional need that may be causing him to resent me?”
Each of ourselves can ask ourselves the following:
- Does my spouse genuinely feel my unconditional love or has my love been conditional —I will love you if…
- Have I done anything to infringe upon my spouse’s freedom? Does he feel that I am trying to control his life
- Has my speech or behavior struck at her efforts to gain significance? Does she see me as condemning something that she values as being significant?
- Does he see me as a barrier to the fulfillment of his need for recreation and relaxation?
- Is my spouse struggling with the spiritual dimension of life? Does she see me as interfering with her search for peace with God?
Anyone of these questions may uncover the source of your spouse’s silence. The challenge then is to find a way to help him or her meet that emotional need at the same time maintain your own integrity and get your own needs met.
Helpful Articles to Read on the Emotionally Distant Spouse
With this said, as you brace yourself to do what it takes, I encourage you to read the following articles we found on the Internet. I believe they will give you insight and help in this area of your marriage. I encourage you to make this your mission to do your part in opening the door to better understanding and communication in your marriage.
In this first article April Motl says the following about emotional detachment in marriage:
“A lot can happen between the ‘I do’ at the altar and the years that follow. We can end up married to someone yet emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically disengaged. I have come to believe that one primary problem seems to sit at the root of most couples who feel disengaged. I call it the ‘full plate’ phenomenon. When your spouse (or you) has something that puts them emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually on overload something else has to be shut off in life —and that something else often becomes your marriage.”
To find out more, read this Crosswalk.com article:
Additionally, Concerning the Emotionally Distant Spouse:
Here are three more articles that you could find helpful to read on this issue:
• WHEN YOU FEEL DISCONNECTED FROM YOUR SPOUSE
You may even be at the point where you feel abandoned. Here is an article that addresses that:
Please search through the Marriage Missions web site for more articles that can help you in this mission of connecting with your spouse. Look for ways to build and open doors of communication. There is a lot of wisdom, written by relationship experts, that is waiting for you to tap into and use. I encourage you not to give up. God has a blessing for you as you look to the Holy Spirit, our Wonderful Counselor, to open your understanding and to apply to your life.
In an article formerly posted on the Internet titled, “My Spouse is Emotionally Distant,” a challenge is given to “keep trusting God’s power and goodness.” It’s a difficult thing to do when you feel abandoned in many ways by your spouse. But God has promised to “never leave nor forsake” us. Sometimes it’s a matter of F.A.I.T.H. to believe that. F.A.I.T.H. means: Forsaking All I Trust Him. Trust in His power and goodness —no matter what!
Keep in mind the following (which was written in that article):
“Remember who God is! The same God who healed the rift between us and Him can also bring you and your spouse closer together. Zephaniah reminded Judah that God wouldn’t let their sin keep them separated from Him (Zephaniah 3:15). And God wants you to see your sadness about your relationship with your spouse by the same light.
“Don’t be discouraged. God can bring victory over sin (Zephaniah 3:13), and He can use your marriage for good purposes because He loves you and knows what you’re going through. Keep trusting in God’s power and goodness so you can be the spouse God has called you to be —and let God take care of your mate.” (See also Proverbs 3:27-35; Ephesians 4:14-16.)
Prayerfully keep in mind and consider:
“The LORD your God is in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you with His love, and will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
“May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.“
(2 Thessalonians 3:5)
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
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Filed under: Communication and Conflict