The Emotionally Distant Husband

Emotionally Distant Pixabay man-1150037_640Are 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, you are being taken advantage of? In other words, does a void exist for you because you have an emotionally distant husband?

In my counseling practice I specialize in treating common emotional stresses. if left unattended, They can turn into major debilitating problems. The hurting people who come to see me are trying to cope with anger, depression, anxiety in their marriage. 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.

The Emotionally Eager Wife VS Emotionally Distant Husband Who Will Not Engage

Over twenty-five thousand counseling sessions have shown me that the 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 of being emotionally distant and disconnected:

  • “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 fails to progress, feelings of disillusionment become entrenched. And then faulty patterns of communication yield increasing frustration. Failure to progress is not for lack of trying.

Good Reason to Be Disappointed

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. Unfortunately, their husbands fail to supply that need. They are emotionally distant. 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 are unwilling to seriously explore the depths of their own emotional needs. As a result, they 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 emotionally distant, undemonstrative men are looking, deep inside, for a way to jump-start their marriages. I can show spouses the best method to address their unique relational needs, and the lessons will probably “take.”

Options are Available in Dealing with the Emotionally Distant Spouse.

When the husband, however, is unwilling to participate in counseling, the wife still has some excellent options. Her emotionally distant 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.

The Emotionally Distant Identifying Pattern

The first step toward improving one’s relationship is to understand what constitutes patterns in marriages that can 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. They 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 doesn’t see himself as being emotionally distant.

Ways He Evades Processing

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. It’s 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, and to get rid of them. That is because he sees them as anti-productive. Let me emphasize that there is no right-and-wrong about having strong emotions. It is not wrong to even, to some extent, downplay them. But because she recognizes and even nurtures her emotional side, the wife can enjoy life in its richest, fullest dimension.

Insistent Anger and Resistant Anger

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. This happens 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. So she becomes greatly disillusioned when external signs of that understanding are nonexistent.

Evasive Behavior

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

To counter evasiveness, the emotionally eager wife will be prone toward responses such as crying. They try to be 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 this emotionally distant interplay.

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 emotionally distant 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 to her emotionally distant husband.

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 emotionally distant, 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. The emotionally distant husband 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 emotionally distant 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 emotionally distant 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.

The Emotionally Distant Fear of Accountability

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. This is exactly the opposite of what the emotionally eager wives are seeking. The men keep their feelings well hidden. But their 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. 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.

Has Emotionally Distant Preference to Lie Low

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 as 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. That is 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 they are rebuffed for six months at a time, a year, or longer.

Slipping into an Emotionally Distant Comfortable Shell

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. This is in the way of  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. They enjoy stimulating philosophical discussions, flock to seminars, and invite growth. They like being challenged about what can be done to create a fuller life. 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. 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 then, 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. She does this by protesting, 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 by her emotionally distant husband.

“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.

Don’t Quit

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.

Work on Your Happiness

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

This edited article came from the great book, Distant Partner. It is written by Dr Les Carter, and is 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 read this book along with your spouse Dr Carter explains in the preface of the book the best way to do this.

— ALSO —

For additional insight, here are two additional articles to read to help you deal with this issue:

HOW TO RELATE TO AN EMOTIONALLY DISTANT MAN

WHY DOESN’T MY HUSBAND ADDRESS PROBLEMS DIRECTLY

And then lastly, Dr Greg Smalley gives the following insight:

FIGHT FOR YOUR MARRIAGE WHEN YOUR SPOUSE IS EMOTIONALLY DISTANT

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Filed under: Communication and Conflict

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Comments

636 responses to “The Emotionally Distant Husband

  1. This describes my husband and I quite well. Especially about sex. My husband withholds sex usually for about a month or two at a time. Once he withheld it for an entire 5 months. He doesn’t hold hands, or hug or anything at all. I go in for a kiss and he pulls away or he deflects it with a quick kiss on the head or cheek. It breaks my heart and makes me wonder all the time if he dislikes me, thinks I smell bad, or has completely lost attraction toward me but lives with me anyway.

    I know he’s not cheating and I’m confident he never would. But when the time finally comes around when he makes his move for sex, I’m emotionally starved enough to give in but I am also so hurt and confused that I hesitate every time and that I no longer feel connected when we do have sex. I started to feel like I should just back off and ignore him and let him come to me. So for several months I’ve done that and he hasn’t come to me at all.

    Sometimes I am not home when he gets home from work because I will just be doing my own thing and he doesn’t even care that I’m away. So then I think- well, I’ll just live my own life in solitude with the kids and he can live his life and we’ll stay faithful in our marriage and exist under the same roof. The man usually sleeps on the couch! I don’t know. Someday our kids will be grown and gone and we’ll get old and we’ll be strangers living in the same house and briefly hooking up once a month… Not what I envisioned when I married him but when I take the emotions out of it and I quit letting myself starve for his love, it doesn’t hurt. Just feels like a business partnership that I’ve learned to live with, and I no longer get angry with him or sad or confused. I just accept it.

    I’ve asked him several different occasions very civilly and lovingly to understand those needs and feelings and he would nod and agree but it’s still like this. What more can I do but just live with acceptance of myself and acceptance of this reality?

    1. This was my life. Most of all you shared. He then had a reconnect with an old acquaintance and poof my confusing emotionless marriage with a kind distant man is over. I continue to analyze the wreckage.

      1. Just wondering what kind of friend was this. My husband is doing the same thing. He was distant but he was there physically for the kids and I. He started smoking weed and drinking and is like a 15 year old now. I think he connected with an old friend. Now he says he wants a divorce after 17 years a house and two children. It hit me completely out of left field. What makes it worse is I’m having heart problems and can’t do much for myself. He told our son that I am lazy and now he doesn’t do anything around the house just makes me and the kids to everything.

        1. Hi Nicole, I pray God restores your family and your health. Please stay faithful to the Lord by praying,fasting,repenting from any struggles that you had and just completely surrendering everything to Him. The Lord hates divorce but He certainly does not want to see you suffer as well. He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask according to the power that works in us. Ask the Lord to reveal anything that he requires for you to do. God be with you

  2. I was diagnosed with a rare and fatal disease a year ago and my boyfriend has yet to talk to me about it. He hasn’t once expressed how it affects him or shown any emotion about it. We’ve been together 14 years and are finally planning on getting married sometime this year, but I feel he is being distant. I don’t know how to handle this situation or what I should do.

  3. Such a feminist men-hating article… In the modern world the burden of a relationship falls mostly on men, why? When it comes to finances, men MUST be the breadwinner of the household or else they are tagged as failure by the mainstream society.

    When it comes to sex, men MUST be the ones chasing women or else you will see articles like this shaming men for not giving their wives enough “attention” hence making them the victims.

    Just gave you 2 examples without even thinking about it… Open your eyes. If you are a married man I would suggest you stop reading this article and start looking elsewhere for content but this comment will likely never be approved by the author ;)

    1. Husbands are typically the one in the marriage who is distant, but it can also be the wife. The article is spot on for whoever is the distant one. It hurts both people in the relationship. Why do people who loved each other once, do this to each other usually for all their earthly life together? It’s not fun. It’s painful. It can’t be love that is keeping them together.

    2. This is specifically for people going through this. I have a husband who has similar qualities that helped me understand him more. This doesn’t say all men are this way it says the evasive husband. Not sure if you’re married sir, but if it rattles something then perhaps taking the point of view from the woman’s stance might shift from your point to why a woman is acting the way she is.

  4. Those kind of men don’t need wives; they need Jesus. Most women do not want evasive, cold, and distant men. Those men are lying to themselves. They think if they don’t voices in the heads and not talking to themselves they are good to go. They are coming across as narcissists. Those kind of men don’t have no personality. They are in marriage for the wrong reason.

    I feel sorry for those women who are dealing those kind of men. Those kind of men are looking for a woman to submit 100% in the marriage and they put 20% in the marriage. Those men living in their on fantasy world about women. Those men want live like they are in 1950’s. Women in the 1950’s had to cook, clean, take care of the kids, and satisfy the husband. She had to keep her feelings to herself at the particular era.

    This is 2020 and in one more month it will be 2021. They cannot bring the past in the 21 century. Women of today have a different mind set. Those men that you are talking back in the article are going to become what I call “relationship vagabonds.”

    Let me explain what I mean. Those men have a false sense of what defines a marriage. If they don’t change they will wind up being married more than one time. They will experience stability in marriage and the women that they have relations with will wind up getting rid of them because of that kind of attitude.

  5. This article really gave me perspective. I often thought I am going mad. My husband is a kind, giving, providing narcissist, so the lines for me have often been blurred, when he emotionally retracts and he has had me thinking for years that I am the nagging, drama queen. Whereas I do not see an amicable solution to my dilemma right now, as financially I am bound to this marriage and this home, it has helped bring perspective and confirmation that I need to focus on me. I am afraid that if I don’t change directions, I will eventually be too depleted to function. This kind of lifestyle is draining. Thank you for the insight

    1. You will be in grave danger ceasing to exist and then will perhaps implode in one last attempt to save your marriage, children, home and marriage. And frankly he will not care…until it is over and he’s blaming you until the carnage is out of his system and unbelievably he will come for round two or three, still emotionally and otherwise, showing gross immaturity for how this affected anyone but him.

      Mine did. Not one word of accountability, remorse apology or responsibility for the damage he did us all. No thanks.

    2. I know what you mean. Especially being bound because of money. I’m fed up and scared. I feel at the end of my rope sometimes. It affects my health and that enrages me more. I wish I could take care of myself.

  6. This article has given me so much hope. I love how it does not villainize the husband (especially since I am very tempted to). Thank you for all this wisdom and insight. It sounds like you’re talking about my husband.

    1. What hope? It is so endlessly frustrating. It’s hard to keep quiet, and he hates the constant trying to change. him///

      1. It didn’t give me hope either, just the affirmation that I am not crazy and also the realization that I failed totally. I chose someone who has nothing to give emotionally. There is a big void in my life and I am so sad.

  7. Me being the husband and feeling like this is what my wife has to deal with, I feel so terrible it consumes me completely and has made it much worse… What do I do?

  8. This article leaves out some of the potential causes for men to be avoidant. It really doesn’t talk about what you are or aren’t doing. For example there is a difference between asking for something and nagging. Nagging is criticism, it focuses on the person not the action. This leaves a man feeling judged for his flaws and his natural response is to withdraw to safety. We are conditioned not to be “weak” and since this is a form of emotional cowardice on our end, the response is to lash out at the perceived loss of masculinity (think: how dare you make me a coward!). The male ego is a fragile thing

    This article, I think, really plays on the idea that men are simple creatures and the theme of “happy wife, happy life” both in my opinion are flawed perspectives.

    1. You can’t blame someone else for another adults behavior. Emotionally distant men are not only emotionally distant from their wife, but also from their parents, their siblings, wife AND children. It is on him to change his behavior not on any one else. As soon as you stop feeling triggered and asking for help, you will change your behavior.

  9. This has been my marriage to a “T” since day one. I don’t care if I don’t respond or if I nag or I plead or anything, he just doesn’t participate in this marriage. He is not the sole breadwinner in this marriage and never has been. I have worked since day one of this marriage. Gave him 2 boys who are awesome and took care of the emotional side of the marriage as he was checked out most of the time. We only had sex when he wanted it and then he’d turn over and go to sleep. No warm hugging afterward. He’d only pay attention to me when he wanted sex, then ignore me until he wanted it again.

    For anyone who has lived this, it is HORRIBLE!! No matter what you do, say or not do or say, he still is checked out. It is not the woman’s fault if the man is emotionally distant. No one can change someone who is like this. He has to want to change. As the article basically states, he won’t change.

    A person can only take so much of feeling rejected and made to feel unworthy of your husband’s time and attention. It is a form of emotional abuse. Get therapy for yourself and hopefully, your husband will go to and do the work.

    Yes, I have been married for a very long time. I am just starting to see and understand that it isn’t me with the problem. I am going to make myself happy and he can stay in his secure, detatched, unemotional place. I am moving on for me and to show my boys that relationships are way better than this. I hope you all will take care of yourselves too.

  10. I read this a little too late. Today I sent a note to my husband suggesting we pull the plug. He had to return to the UK for medical treatment with no return date and I’m in America. His contact has all but diminished behind a wall of lame excuses, which are rarely resolved. After weeks of trying to bridge the gap with the last straw of me being in hospital and he texting the day after I’m home asking if I will be discharged soon and texting rather than calling, a man who prefers the phone, I am just hurt beyond belief.

    He is back with his “children” and has checked out. Last to know anything and never available to discuss our home or what is going on in my life or his. This is the second time. He moved back to the UK in 2018 and came back to America June 2020. I explained to him this time that if he tried to pull the no contact for 20 months and thinks he will just waltz back into my life, the answer is a flat no. I can’t do this again.

    He doesn’t make himself available to me and I think he is in conflict. I think he loves me but he doesn’t like me and that is apparent through his actions with what he does with others but flatly refused with me. Too much hurt and disappointment. I would’ve done anything for us. I was willing and offered to leave the US and move to the UK and he found excuses why it wouldn’t work. Enough is enough. Closing the door on a 30 year love affair.

    I think it’s a great article with loads of very helpful info but a man has to be willing to fight for his spouse. My husband isn’t that man for me. Maybe for another woman but not me. Take out stock in Kleenex.

    1. So sorry Taryn, for the hurt you are experiencing. I pray your husband wakes up. I’m reminded of the following article: https://marriagemissions.com/why-doesnt-my-spouse-change-functional-fixedness/. He is functionally fixated on not changing because he just doesn’t see the need. Hopefully, this will wake him up. This disconnect is so unhealthy.

      I pray the Lord ministers to your hurts. I pray the Lord helps you, guides you, comforts you, and helps you to never be in this place again. I also pray God infuses hope into your heart that you will eventually experience better days –ones that will bring a smile to your heart.

  11. As a wife in this situation who has managed to get to the point of not taking the blame, reducing personal frustration, and increasing personal happiness on my own, I want to say that accomplishing this is not really, imo, an “excellent option.” If he continues to lie low and evade from his comfortable distance, you still have a shallow, lonely, and boring relationship. And it’s still hard to talk about plans and values and work out difficulties, which are necessary to do at some level if you’re trying to live together, raise children together, and own joint property, even if you have given up on emotional intimacy and satisfying partnership.

    Living with all of that every day is an ongoing lack and sadness. I really don’t know how a married person is supposed to be able to be satisfied and happy regardless of how continually absent, avoidant, and repeatedly abandoning their spouse is, in their face, every day.

  12. Am I the only one here who sees a problem with the woman having to give even more of herself away to accommodate the fragile ego of a man who needs everything around him to align so he can even consider doing any emotional work? This article is saying that a woman is to continue to stuff her needs and feelings, create a soft, un-scary, non-threatening, no pressure environment for men who find a way to twist 99% of all attempts at emotional connection or honesty, no matter how kid gloved, as a threat and a license to retreat into all the behaviors/ tactics that this article has validated for them.

    Men have been given validation for their inability to handle life and for the emotional neglect/emotional abuse they damage their wives and families with as a result. This doesn’t hold men to a higher standard… it says they’re weak and the woman has to tow even more of the line and HOPE she does enough, In just the right way for him to be able to be honest and give her ANYTHING back emotionally. If he can’t do it, it’s because she was too “emotionally eager”. This is disgusting.

    1. Easy there Disgusted, men have to endure things too, like hormones, PMS, hot flashes, peri-menopause, menopause, too much estrogen, not enough estrogen. Honestly sometimes with some (not all) women, we guys don’t know what we are about to touch when we try to hug our wives. After the ranting & screaming the woman says its PMS. So we guys have to live on the ‘low-down’ a lot of the time. The fragile ego, we guys want to be the head, be in control, but the women says otherwise. That damages an ego. Ask any women that was in a abusive marriage about their egos. Look at todays commercials, guys are all beat-down.

  13. My husband abused me the first eleven years of our life physically and mentally. And throughout the other times off and on. He blames me for it, that he was a good person before he met me. But from the first moments of our marriage when I said something he did not like or agree with I got pushed against a wall. I was called demeaning names, and hurt when I would question him on things.

    Ten years into our marriage I caught him looking at porn, which he lied about and then blamed me. He took no accountability or any ways to help me heal; he told me to get over it. I have not been a perfect wife; I have really hard times feeling loved and getting over the lies he continued to do and mean words etc.

    It took a toll on me and there were times I yelled at my kids or said mean things that I regretted and said sorry for. Thinking that my oldest would see that as a whole I was a good mom to her; she doesn’t think so because of those times even though the rest of the times I loved her and was a good mom. It was those moments of back talking or not listening etc from my teen daughter that I raised my voice or yelled or said some mean things. That’s all she remembers. It hurts because I have her dad telling me it’s all my fault for his ways and that I was unkind to him for 25 years and my daughter saying I did not do a good job overall.

    My husband has never given me emotional support. In fact after he abused me I often comforted him. And with the porn, I comforted him. I got nothing and still don’t. One minute he says he loves me; the next minute he hates me, it’s all my fault and I’m horrible. He was always good to the kids, stayed calm, played games, etc. He never corrected them for talking ugly to me. I was the only one he physically and emotionally abused, lied and cheated on.

    My children think he’s great and I’m the horrible one. They saw me yell at him after he would refuse to validate my feelings, keep adding more lies to the equation etc. That’s what they saw–me always upset with him, and they have no clue what he does to me. He has everyone fooled. Even me sometimes, when he acts sorry but does the exact same behavior and gets mad at me for being tired of it and fighting back.

    I stayed quiet for ten years, never yelled back for fear of being abused worse. When he stopped physically hurting me I started fighting back when he hurt me emotionally. He wants everything dropped, never wants to work through anything, and wants it never mentioned. All I want is for him to love me and care and be truly sorry because truly sorry is actions shown.

    By the way my yelling at him came only after I would tell him I’m sad about this or dealing with this, struggling with what you did and he would act crazy in response, end up blaming me, and saying mean things. I know I shouldn’t yell but I was at the end of my rope. When he would feel bad and say he wasn’t a good dad I constantly lifted him up giving him examples. But I get nothing even though I cared for them in all ways. I really think he planned it this way to make me look like the crazy mean one to my kids.

    I hate my life. He literally will tell me shut up; he hates me and ten minutes later won’t remember he did that, and acts like everything is fine.

    1. Harriet, my heart cries for you. All of this has got to be so confusing, and feel so unfair. And it is. There are so many things I would like to say, but I believe the Lord would have me instead point you to a ministry that may be able to help you more than I can. Leslie Vernick has a great ministry that helps those who are caught up in abusive marital situations. She’s got a great outreach. I recommend that you go to her web site and see what insights you find there that can help you in the struggles you are facing. You can find her web site at: https://leslievernick.com. Go into her blogs, pray, read, and glean through the info that is given. I pray this will help you… with all my heart, I pray God will minister through Leslie to give you help and hope. Please remember: “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)

  14. This is an excellent article and describes my marriage perfectly. My husband recently has started to try to understand emotional intimacy and things are improving, and this did come about from me reining in my emotional reactions, setting boundaries and making it very clear I was going to live a happy life and take care of myself with or without him involved. I don’t expect perfection but we are moving in the right direction. I 100% believe that the wife HAS to work on herself for the marriage to heal. I actually try to be thankful for our struggles, as it has led me to a much happier and healthier place mentally.

    For men who are reading this, I beg of you to stop blaming PMS and hormones for your marital problems. I even had a MALE marriage counselor tell both my husband and me that this is a problem with so many men – they blame everything on the wife’s hormones and that prevents them from actually looking at their own part of the marriage.

    Yes, hormonal shifts are real. I know for me, it made me more intolerant of my husband’s very real emotional distance and I was more likely to lash out at him. Also, we as spouses are supposed to come beside each other for comfort when the other is struggling physically or emotionally. Give your wife extra love and attention during these times and more than likely it will go a long way to calm her down. PMDD is a very severe form of PMS that does exist, but only effects 2-6% of women. Unless your wife suffers from this, her hormonal reactions are most likely being exasperated by her frustration that she is not heard, loved and validated by her partner.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing extra insight through things that you have learned. Nothing is as helpful as the voice of experience. So glad that you and your husband are falling forward in getting to a more connected place in your relationship. May God abundantly bless your marriage.