Emotional Abandonment: When Your Spouse Shuts You Out

Emotional abandonment AdobeStock_99535893 copyAs it pertains to emotional abandonment, when your spouse shuts you out:

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

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

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

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

Addressing this issue:

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

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

Insights that may help:

We have found several web site articles that we believe will help in some way. They are ones that give insight into what may be causing this type of emotional shut down. They also give insight on what you may be able to do to turn things around. Please read:

HER HUSBAND WOULDN’T SPEAK TO HER FOR THREE YEARS

MY HUSBAND IS A MYSTERIOUS ISLAND

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

Something you may want to consider:

• EMOTIONAL ABANDONMENT: When Your Spouse Shuts You Out

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

Print Post

Filed under: Communication and Conflict

Leave a Reply to Jamie from United States Cancel reply

Please observe the following guidelines:

  • Try to be as positive as possible when you make a comment.
  • If there is name-calling, or profane language, it will be deleted.
  • The same goes with hurtful comments targeted at belittling others; we won't post them.
  • Recommendations for people to divorce will be edited out–that's a decision between them and God, not us.
  • If you have a criticism, please make it constructive.
  • Be mindful that this is an international ministry where cultural differences need to be considered.
  • Please honor the fact this is a Christ-centered web site.

We review all comments before posting them to reduce spam and offensive content.

Comments

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

  1. I’ve been with my husband for 3-1/2 years, married for 2. The affection and intimacy stopped within 2 months of marriage. I try all the time to show affection to him and all he says is he “doesn’t like being mauled.” When I lost my good job, things got worse. Now, within the past 2 months, he shut me out of his social media life, closed his Facebook account and started a new one and wants no part of involving me there and has lied about it, saying he’s no longer on Facebook. He has always, from day one, had other women that he “sexts” with on messenger. I’ve always known about it, yet he’s always denied it. He just keeps pushing me further and further away, doesn’t talk to me like he used to, only tells me he loves me in response to me saying it to him and says it as if it’s a requirement, not a true feeling. He says he doesn’t want me to leave, but if that’s what I want, he will not stand in my way. Which tells me he really doesn’t want me here anymore. It’s made me feel very unwanted. I don’t feel like a wife. I feel like an unwanted houseguest who has overstayed their welcome.

    1. Wow. This sounds so familiar. So sorry for your pain. I completely understand. I am wondering if your husband has Asperger’s Syndrome. You should do some research about that. It might provide you with some answers. Best of luck! ✌️❤️🙏

    2. Hi there, on all of you who feel abandoned from their partners. I am sorry about your situation. The best thing to do is to leave if the person is not willing to talk things out. Your dignity is important and this will attract your person back to you. They will start missing you and will want to change their attitude.

      If it does not within a month then you will have to consider the relationship over. Sometimes partners turn around after 6 months; sometimes after years. The question will be what you going to do when it happens. Try to focus on your careers and kids if you have them. Try to do new things that you wanted to do and still have not had a chance to do. Get in shape if you feel that will make you happier, or go exploring the world if you can afford it. Don’t just stayed bummed out in your bed and lament.

      Instead, get a CDL and drive for a company; get to know the country you live in. Learn a new occupation. Make a change in your life for the better. You will see; your ex will want to comeback. I hope that you are prepared when they do. Take it as a time out. Do not spy on social media; do not attempt to reach them; wait till they reach you and go from there.

  2. I married my husband who already had two grown daughters, and it has been a rollercoaster for 11 years. They don’t approve of me and it has affected our marriage. I am considering divorce.

  3. My husband just doesn’t care if I’m crying about whatever, he’ll just simply fall asleep leaving me in need of comfort. I despise him so much! He says “Awh, you’re losing it!” if I try to make him communicate. I’m just at a loss for what to do.

    1. Same here. Has anything helped you which you can share??I don’t know how to overcome this. My husband doesn’t care for me at all. When we have fights he sleeps in a different room for days and doesn’t talk for days.

    2. I’m sorry. Please do not trust him to make you feel important or loved! He has changed and not for the better. You deserve respect. Once respect is gone, there isn’t much of a relationship left.

    1. I’m so sad for you that your husband is shutting you out. I’ve seen that happen before many times. It shouldn’t be, but that is how some spouses work through their grief and the confusion that accompanies it. The following is a link to an article we have posted on this web site that you may find to be helpful to read and glean through at this time in your marriage: https://marriagemissions.com/spouses-grieve-differently/. Please read through the additional linked articles. I believe they will bring more clarity, and you may even find advice within them that you can use to draw you and your husband back together again. I pray so.

  4. I’ve been married for 3 yrs now with two little one’s. My husband has become more distant ever since we moved to another state. I have caught him looking at porn. Looking at other women. He tells me I’m just insecure and he loves me, but I don’t feel it. I feel very unwanted. I’m praying everyday.My question is it me is he losing interest or is this normal?

    1. You are not insecure. You are normal. It’s normal for a man to look at another woman once in a while, but if he continues after you have brought it to his attention, he does not respect you. Pornography kills love. A mistake now and then is workable. Constant viewing and lying is an addiction and a way to check out emotionally. Women on a screen don’t require emotional connections. Don’t ever feel it’s because you aren’t pretty enough or in shape enough. Pornography is entirely the user’s problem with intimacy. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.

  5. I’ve been married to my wife for about 10 years. She has been emotionally and sexually distant from me for about 2 years now. She routinely tells me that she’s not attracted to me, even though I’m in pretty good shape. She likes to point out that I want sex all the time, and I like to reply that it’s not sex that I want, it’s the connection of making love that I want so fiercely.

    I have been and will continue to be faithful to my wife. I’ve spent countless hours researching, reading various articles on marital healing and I feel that I understand it quite well. My wife is nearly complete in her master’s degree for MFT & LPCC. So I am at a loss when I feel like my wife doesn’t understand what is happening in our relationship. It hurts even more when I think about the fact that she is a trained marriage counselor (nearly). Am I just plain “old crazy?” I’ve been so hurt by her that I dont understand why I’m still alive.

    She had used nuclear words on a regular basis and seems to not care at all when I tell her how bad it hurts when she says these things like “I’m not in love with you anymore” “the only reason I dont divorce you is that I’m a Christian and can’t” “I’m not attracted to you” and when I tell her that these things are magnified by the fact that I have insecurities due to her unfaithfulness, twice, once in 2012, and again 6 months later, that’s when she thought that she may be pregnant and decided she should tell me about it.

    I read so much about how men seem to be the dominant person who is emotionally distant, I dream of what it would be like to feel wanted. To feel desired, to feel loved. She tells me that Jesus needs to be enough for me, and He is. But she just seems to ignore that what she is doing is slowly destroying me.

    1. How sad to read. Like my situation with my husband. Pretty spot on, except that he’s definitely not marriage councilor (seriously?!) Two people living together like strangers. How painful it is when one wants connection, sharing, presence.

    2. Sounds like she has checked out entirely. Becoming a therapist doesn’t qualify someone an expert in their own relationships. We are far better at seeing problems in others than we are ourselves. It sounds like she does not want to accept responsibility for the damage caused by multiple affairs. Your pain is understandable. Unfortunately, it sounds like you are left to fix it alone. Since you can’t control her, you have to decide if you are worth being cared for and find ways to build your self-esteem so you don’t allow belittling and abusive comments to define and control you.

      Responsibility for bad behavior lies squarely on the person doing the behavior. It seems she is using your feelings and pain as a means of maintaining power over you, and when you plead for connection, she withholds and defines you. That sounds like control to me. Whatever you do, maintain a loving, kind response but do not allow her hurtful words to define you.

      Last but not least, don’t ever question why you are are alive. You are alive because you are one of God’s creations and you are as important to God as any of his creations. You should never allow someone to have the kind of power over you that you begin to question why you are alive, and you should never use that statement to control someone’s emotions either. We are all imperfect but worthy of being loved.

      1. You must make yourself a priority, by making your own happiness a priority. I’m really not talking about running around in Lala-land, rather just turning the focus away from your mate sometimes, and letting yourself be yourself, doing what you do without looking for confirmation from your mate or reinforcement.

        There is no excuse for anybody’s mate to be saying rude, mean, and hurtful stuff. That is not your fault, that is their choice.

  6. Hi, my name is Carol and guess I’m just “searching”…looking for answers or help. Married for 10 years (2nd marriages for both of us). When we met we had both just ended long term very hurtful relationships and my husband was a serious drinker who’s family owned a bar in our small town. In the beginning he would come to my house, dance with me to music we both liked, play Yahtzee with me (I’m big on family games) and talk to me for hours.

    When I decided to move south (where my daughter and her family moved (gotta be with her and my grandkids!) he said he was coming with me. At that time we were spending every day together and every night. Although I did drink before I met him it was never an every day thing. But it became that the only thing he wanted to do was “go to the bar” and get drunk and it became a horrible habit to me as well!

    Fast forward. We got married when we got moved down south and although I always worked and brought in good money the drinking continued until I had a stroke 3 years ago. I was very fortunate. Woke up one morning (after till this day not remembering one thing about the stroke or the weeks following) and I was “back”. Back to the person I was before I started drinking every day (thank heavens!). And “that” was when our problems started. When I quit drinking (I do not recall him ever smoking dope around me before we moved south), I knew I had become an alcoholic during those years and wanted no part of being that kind of person again so I fought it HARD (and it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world for sure!) but my husband continued drinking every single day…heavily but “hid” the bottles from me and said I told him after my stroke that “I didn’t want to see it”.

    Well he would drink every single night until he couldn’t walk, talk or keep from passing out before he could eat the food I cooked for him and even if he did stay awake to eat it could barely navigate a fork to his mouth constantly spilling food all over the living room floor (where he insisted on eating). He has “tried” to slow down several times but that is what he told me…feeling suspicious I watched the bank account carefully and watched as he would make 10 plus trips to the back bedroom or out to his truck where I SAW him guzzeling straight vodka from the bottle. He was going through 2-3 18 packs of beer and 3-4 LARGE bottles of vodka by himself in a week!

    I don’t think he was smoking dope much during that time but I’m not sure as he became the MASTER of lying. But recently when my 14 year old grand daughter was here to spend the night (they do that quite often when not busy) he got SO WASTED in such a short time that he must have had the thought to go outside to smoke (I don’t allow it in the house), put a cigarette in his mouth, collapsed into the recliner with the cigarette still hanging out of his mouth unlit and totally passed out for almost 2 solid hours he sat that way! (I took a pic of him that way.)

    Then I found one of his dope butts in the ashtray out in the gazebo and was livid! Dope is still ILLEGAL in South Carolina and he knows that I used to investigate dopers and arrest them and that I HATE that stuff but he thinks it’s great stuff (and both of his sons are both big DOPE HEADS! That’s a whole different horror story when we went to visit his son in Washington State…TOTAL HORROR STORY! And they do it right in front of their small children and heck the 10 year old grand daughter is very proficient in smoking and vaping!!!

    I am so sorry this is so long, guess since he has refused to talk to me about any of this and I have had no one to talk to…HE HASN’T SPOKEN ONE WORD TO ME IN OVER A MONTH, totally ignores me…sleeps in the back bedroom and totally avoids me when he’s home…which has been a lot lately since he is SICK all the time and not going to work like he should. I do know that his company IS working (even with the virus), he is an electrician and his company IS working but he has not worked much this last 2 weeks but of course he isn’t talking to me so I have no clue if he is sick or what the heck is going on!

    I am so totally frustrated! Under all the CRAP, I know is a good man but he simply can’t seem to deal with ANYTHING. He does absolutely nothing to help me with the home life…I take care of all finances (I am retired now but have a good income with my pension and SS), make sure all the bills are paid. Keep the house very clean and neat (which I know he has never had that before, he and his ex lived in filth). I do all the huge yard work mowing, trimming, etc. I power-wash the house and decks and do all this usually while he is sitting on his butt with his phone in his face for hours and hours and hours…that is all he does!

    WOW…am I an IDIOT or what??? Well, I’m doing some “sneaking” too. Everytime I knew he bought another bottle I started taking $20.00 cash out and putting it away. (I always make sure there is a good amount of money in the bank and I have a cash stash in the safe) but this money is “my” future money that he doesn’t know about. I figure if he can sneak, hide, deceive, and LIE….well, two can play that game.

    But I’m investing in my future because if he doesn’t kill himself with his lifestyle (he has CHF and very high blood pressure) which of course is another thing…he will NOT make his own doctor appointments, go to the doctor by himself. I have to go and hold his hand, or fill his own prescriptions. I call them in…he will stop by and pick them up on his way past at least. WOW…yes…I am the Queen of Stupid. Sorry, sometimes my crazy sense of humor takes over.

    I used to be a fun loving happy gal! I want to be that again but guess I don’t know how to hurt people like I’ve been hurt….maybe I just needed to get it all out and putting it down does seem to have made me feel alittle better (for a second or two). Thank you if anyone has the stamina to read this much. I hope you all have a super great day and are staying safe and well with this crazy virus that is going on in this world!!! :).

    1. Hi Carol, sorry about your situation. Part of me says to tell him to move out. Remove his name from your bank accounts, property, credit cards, etc. The other part says to try to get him help. It will not improve on its own. I am not much help…

      1. Hi Bob, thanks for your comments. I have ‘tried’ to talk to him about moving out…he yelled at me that he was going to do that as soon as he found a place but that was weeks ago and I know for sure he isn’t even looking. Very sad. Today is day #39 that he hasn’t spoken or even looked at me…goes past me in the house and doesn’t even look my way and still refusing to say one word…very frustrating!

        He wrote me a “note” and said he wants to make it work but he can’t ‘talk’. I don’t understand how someone can want something and yet refuse to do anything to make it better; he even said in his note that he needs help and can’t do it on his own but totally refuses any ‘help’ from me. I suggested a counselor, also a minister from back home that runs a large rehab organization for drug addicts that is a friend and we have even donated money to his charity and my husband respects him but nope, total refusal and I’m sure he ‘knows’ exactly what he would hear from them as well and he simply does not want to hear it.

        He says “I am who I am” period and I guess he totally expects me to pat him on the back and tell him what a good boy he is for treating me like crap when he’s always drunk/high or what ever…so darned tired. I just wish he “would” leave but I don’t see that happening. He is too “comfortable” here. His ‘sons’ are just as bad if not worse and most of his family are just like him and he really has no one else that would be there for him other than his drunk, druggie friends back home at the “bar” that he loves so much.

        I don’t know. I am going to try one more time. (I don’t think he has been drinking for the last couple of days but hard to tell since he hides out all the time, but I haven’t heard him fall down for a couple of days!) If he doesn’t and refuses to make a decision soon I’m afraid I will have to have an officer come and make him pack up and leave. I hate to do that but I’m at my wits end and I simply don’t trust what he will do anymore. I’m even blocking the bedroom door at night so if he tries to get in drunk it will wake me…and slept in my clothes a couple of times because his anger was just too much. I’m Not havin’ a good time here! Darn I want a fun “normal” life back again! Anyways, thanks again for your input. Hope you are staying safe and well with this crazy virus going around! Have a good evening!

    2. So, what I’ve found in my own situation is that my spouse cares but has an anger management issues and problem being emotionally distant. It’s sad that I cannot depend on him for emotional support much of the time. I’ve had to train myself to not care about it as much, and also not worry so much about making our relationship better. Because of this, he has learned that our relationship isn’t going to make it without him toning it down a lot, which has make the atmosphere much better. I must be able to find my own happiness (not talking about romance), and to a certain degree it means with other people, like friends or colleagues. Don’t know how else to deal with this really. We’ve been married a very long time, with grown kids.