The Emotionally Distant Husband

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, 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 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:

  • “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 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. These wives are living with men who have unconsciously committed themselves to an evasive way of life.

The wives aren’t the only ones hurt by this evasiveness. These men, unwilling to seriously explore the depths of their own emotional needs, perch securely atop their own little time bombs. As frustration and confusion mount, something will eventually blow.

If at all possible, I include husbands in my counseling sessions. You’d be surprised how often these undemonstrative men are looking, deep inside, for a way to jump-start their marriages. I can show spouses the best method to address their unique relational needs, and the lessons will probably “take.”

Options are Available.

When the husband, however, is unwilling to participate in counseling, the wife still has some excellent options. Her spouse may cling to stubborn, evasive patterns of relating, but she can make improvements in two general areas:

1. Have you noticed that in our culture, the burden of a relationship often falls on the woman? The woman is expected to “make it work.” If a man remains faithful, he gets the credit; if he strays, it’s somehow her fault, at least in part. When a relationship unravels, the greater share of the blame ends on her doorstep.

Counseling, however, can help a woman learn what lies behind the scenes of her husband’s personality, what makes him do what he does. With that knowledge in hand, she can come to realize that her husband’s behavior is not her fault after all.

2. The woman can examine the ways in which she reacts to her husband. From there she can figure out better ways of relating that will cause her less stress and personal frustration. Then, even if he never improves his behavior, she can still enjoy improved personal stability. She can be happier.

Identifying Pattern

The first step toward improving one’s relationship is to understand what constitutes patterns in marriages that can, frankly, be emotionally abusive. It sounds so far as if I’ve been painting the husbands as villains. That’s not true in the least. Most of these men have perfectly honorable intentions and would never try to hurt their wives. But even though they usually do not set out to harm, it happens all the same.

The problem lies in the way most (not all by any means!) men approach life. As a general rule, men are less naturally inclined than women to address personal or sensitive subjects. This isn’t simply fear of pain. They really aren’t as interested. They have a natural tendency to bypass the lengthy processing that is so necessary to intimate personal interchanges and skip straight to the solution.

When the wife seeks greater depth than simply problem-options-solution and presses to explore the emotional side of an issue or its ramifications, the man’s frustration kicks in. “We’ve already handled the problem; therefore, it doesn’t exist anymore; so what is it with this woman?” To him, detailed processing is useless, perhaps even inane.

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, a distraction —in essence, a change of subject. Changing the subject is another often-used way out of processing. He is guided by the dread of having to spend any more time than is necessary to dwell on her emotional needs, for he almost never sees them as needs.

Women generally experience feelings and emotions more intensely than do men, mostly because they allow themselves to. A wife lets emotions run their course even as the husband is trying to stuff them, to get rid of them, for he sees them as anti-productive. Let me emphasize that there is no right-and-wrong about having strong emotions or even, to some extent, downplaying them. But because she recognizes and even nurtures her emotional side, the wife can enjoy life in its richest, fullest dimension.

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 when she so craves emotional connections that she loses the ability to respond with reason or calm. She may become anxious; she certainly becomes angry. Not to put too fine a point on it, but hers is an insistent anger whereas his is a resistant anger.

The woman locked into these patterns can cry and complain that she feels unloved. She has such a powerful need to feel understood and cherished at an emotional level that she becomes greatly disillusioned when external signs of that understanding are nonexistent.

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

To counter evasiveness, the emotionally eager wife will be prone toward responses such as crying, persuading, calling friends for support, acting moody, repeating the same requests, accusing, and giving up. Once the cycle gets going it can be difficult to break.

Factors Behind the Pattern

In my practice, I see seven factors that are very common in marriages affected by the evasive and the emotionally eager relationship patterns. As we examine them, you will see that this tug-of-war is not confined to a few households. It is widespread. I find this tension in the homes of driven, success-oriented people and in laid-back, take-it-easy relationships. Some of the participants have a history of poor relations with others, while some can point to great popularity with others.

If your husband will join you in the awareness process, that’s great! Use the information provided as a springboard for healthy, honest discussion. If he will not, and many won’t, choose to make yourself aware of what’s happening and grow anyway. One person working toward a healthy style of relating is better than no one at all taking steps.

Let’s look at the seven indicators:

1. Communication is reduced to power plays.

If nothing else, evasive behavior creates a feeling of power. This concept of control and power-wielding can take some strange twists, and the people involved usually do not see it for what it is.

If the emotionally eager wife responds with her own overbearing style instead of understanding his fear of being controlled, she does the very thing that makes matters worse. She speaks coercively.

Perversely, even a caring husband derives a certain subconscious satisfaction when he witnesses his wife in great emotional distress. The underlying thought: You see? I do have power! I can control her emotions, and that’s not an easy thing to do. My tactics worked.

The more the wife registers anger or futility, the more likely the evasive husband will continue to respond with power tactics. His urgent, compelling need to keep the upper hand is satisfied. And I repeat, this is not necessarily deliberate. Usually, it is all going on in the darkest caverns of the mind.

2. He avoids commitment and personal accountability.

A common complaint I hear from emotionally eager wives is that they cannot get a solid commitment to anything. Their man is hard to pin down.

Remember that evasive husbands unconsciously lust for power. They must maintain control. So it isn’t hard to see why they don’t want to be held accountable to specific plans. They have confused commitment with enslavement or coercion and wrongly assume the words mean much the same thing. They see simple requests, then, as attempts at coercion, and they circumvent them by remaining vague.

These men realize that accountability requires a certain amount of vulnerability, and that scares them. Clear communication, self-revelation, and openness: These qualities could boomerang on them, they fear. The evasive person also fears that his good nature will be taken advantage of, so he plays it safe by revealing the least amount that he can about his plans, his preferences, his feelings.

Although these men would never admit it even to themselves, they have made a commitment to dishonesty. Sometimes blatant lying is involved, as when a man says he will do something, knowing full well that he will not. But usually this dishonesty is more subtle. Without openly lying, these men try to create an illusion of cooperation when in fact they inwardly hope to blaze their own trails independently of their mates’ plans.

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 —exactly the opposite of what the emotionally eager wives are seeking. The men keep their feelings well hidden; the wives want feelings brought into view. The men think they dare not expose their preferences lest they be denied (in other words, the woman controls the situation through the power of choice). The women want more than anything else to know what their men want.

Needless to say, this factor of poor accountability works against the success of any relationship, for a thriving marriage needs sharing and openness in order to be truly fused into a unit.

3. Leadership roles are confused.

With all this control jockeying and poor accountability, the third factor in these conflicted marriages isn’t hard to see: badly defined leadership roles. The evasive husband prefers to hold back and sidestep situations that will bring his wife’s criticism to bear, and that includes certain situations where his leadership would be expected. He may even coyly set her up to take the heat. That, you see, is real control!

Have either of these scenarios happened in your home?

• A child makes a request that Dad knows should be turned down, so he says, “Why don’t you ask your mother?” Let her be the ogre who denies the child’s wants.

• The husband hears someone reprimand his wife. This might be a stranger in public or his own mother in private. Instead of standing up for his wife, he remains silent even though he knows his wife feels abandoned.

These husbands know that the more leadership they exert, the more controversy they may encounter. It works that way in politics; it must work that way in marriage. Notice that the power plays are still going on.

Has 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.something. But relationships require being not doing, an unsettling concept for many men.

2. Sexual relating is out of sync.

Happy, growing marriages are typified by reasonable sexual communication. Although frequency is not the chief concern (some couples are satisfied with twice monthly sex, some enjoy it several times a week), union occurs frequently enough to remind the spouses of their love and commitment to each other. Sex is a means of maintaining secure bonding.

For evasive men, however, sex is intended not for bonding but for physical satisfaction and—here it is again—control. Who’s in the driver’s seat?

At one extreme, the evasive man abstains for long periods of time, showing virtually no interest at all in his wife sexually. He knows sex can bring out tender sharing, something he prefers to avoid. He determines that it is easier to deny the pleasures of sexual relating in order to avoid emotional intimacy. I have heard numerous accounts from women who are eager to be sexually involved with their husbands but are rebuffed for six months at a time, a year, or longer.

Slipping into 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: an affair, pornography, or flirtations outside marriage. Either spouse can feel such strong disappointment as to be abnormally vulnerable to temptation.

3. Personal insights are unequal.

Healthy people not only admit the need for improvement, they welcome the challenge. Growing people are willing to absorb insights and information. They actively seek out truth. Evasive people are not inclined toward insight and awareness. Apart from the fact that it’s too much trouble for what you get out of it, the evasive husband really isn’t interested in being challenged on the personal, philosophical level. That makes him too vulnerable. He wants the comfortable routine, the level keel, putting little or no thought into the whys of life.

The emotionally eager wives are usually the type who devour self-help books, enjoy stimulating philosophical discussions, flock to seminars. They invite growth. They like being challenged about what can be done to create a fuller life. Result: They grow and expand intellectually as their husbands tune in still another football game.

This eagerness does not always translate into significant change.

Because of the wife’s tendency to play off her husband’s behavior —reacting instead of pro-acting —this woman eventually loses heart as she realizes that her efforts are not being matched by his. She begins to perceive that she’s outgrowing him. I’ve see many of these wives become increasingly agitated or collapse in despair or depression. Either way, the woman ought to press forward, gaining insight, regardless of her mate’s lack of interest.

4. Both sides feel victimized.

Evasive husbands subconsciously live with a philosophy of “You leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone, and we’ll get along just fine.” The fewer challenges they encounter, the less conflict they experience, and the better they feel. The problem is that their spouses by nature yearn for a far more intimate pattern of relating.

The wife launches her various attempts to get the intimacy and depth she craves, protesting or cajoling or simply acting unhappy. The husband, turned off by his wife’s prodding, sulks and wonders, “Why do I have to live with this kind of stuff? She’s crabby for no good reason.”

Either unwilling or unable to grasp that he is contributing to the problem, he sees himself as a victim of unreasonableness. Victims are not cheerful people. The feel, if you will —of the household nose-dives as anger and sadness feed on each other.

The emotionally eager wife feels just as victimized.

“When is all this misery going to end? Look what he’s doing to my life. It’s sterile! Going nowhere. Emotionally zip. When will he ever wake up, or is it always going to be this miserable?” In a sense, there is truth to each mate’s feeling of victimization. Both spouses can point to evidence that this marriage has become something of a raw deal. Both can show legitimate ways in which the other spouse is contributing to the problem. Neither sees the whole picture. When either of them places all blame on the other partner, the “I’m a victim” attitude has gone too far.

Once this evasive pattern has become entrenched in a marriage, it is tempting to place full blame onto the shoulders of the husband who resists deep relating. Let’s say that, in certain instances, it’s true. He does need to change his ways of relating to his wife. His evasiveness damages and even destroys his position of influence in his own home. After all, God did not place us here on earth to avoid each other. We were made to relate first to God, then with family and friends.

Evasive behaviors are damaging not just to the wife but to the husband as well, preventing him from knowing the satisfaction God intended for him.

Beginning the Journey Toward Improvement

If you are the mate of someone who is non-communicative, realize that to some degree, the relational problems you’ve encountered are predictable. They show up in a lot of marriages. Also, there are some things of a general nature that you can do to ease them. For starters:

  • Quit assuming responsibility for your spouse’s imperfections. He may well say, “You make me this way with your constant [nagging, whining, whatever].” That’s not true, even though he may think it is. He would be acting the same way if he were married to someone else.
  • Ease up on your persuasive efforts to convince your mate to fit your mold. Coercion will only make the problem worse. This is hard to do when you desperately want change.

Down deep, you probably realize that no person is going to change, at least not effectively, based on someone else’s forceful persuasion. An evasive husband will amend his ways only if given the room to do so in his own will. That leaves the ugly prospect that he will choose not to. For now, it is wise to back off.

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.

The above edited article came from the great book, Distant Partner written by Dr Les Carter, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers. The subtitle for the book is: “How to tear down emotional walls and communicate with your husband.”  As Dr Carter says in the beginning of the book, “I have written this book primarily for answer-seeking wives… I want you to understand why some husbands act evasively and maintain a certain distance from you. Most particularly, I want to show you what you can do to improve your emotional reactions to your husband.” 

We believe that obtaining this book would be an inexpensive way to start on a road to better understanding and working through issues that could greatly improve your relationship. Also, if you want to read this book along with your spouse (if he desires to do so) Dr Carter explains in the preface of the book the best way to do this.

— ALSO —

For additional help, Dr Richard Fitzgibbons offers insights into this difficult marital issue, as well as some practical tools to help you in the web site article:


And to help you even further, another book we recommend is Married…But Lonely (which many of you who have the ability can purchase through this Amazon link). You can read the first chapter of Dr David Clarke’s book by going to the following link:


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507 responses to “The Emotionally Distant Husband

  1. This is my marriage. I have talked to my husband about marriage counseling and he constantly says no he blames everyone and every woman that he been with for the bad things in his marriages and for not working out. Note I should have paid close attention to that; now I feel I’m stuck in a marriage with a man who will never change. Everything above describes my marriage and his other marriages. I don’t know what to do because I asked one last time for counseling and now he wants a divorce because he’s not going to have anyone pointing out his flaws and he just want to be left alone.

    We have been married 7 years, 6 years no sex at all and no matter what happens I’m constantly at fault just like the other two ladies he was married to. It makes me see a pattern here that he’s not willing to break so I’m not going to fight him against a divorce. I’m going to let him have what he wants. Hopefully one day he gets some help with his drinking, depression, and more.

    I was already sick in my body before and this whole thing has made me even more sick. I’m a person who’s all about change, love, and respect but it’s hard to stay that way when you are involved with someone who has a narcissistic attitude about life and the people they love. I’m very giving and it’s always something wrong with me because I genuinely help people whose in need or because I love my kids or people too much. Why can’t I be like him and say forget people, I’m all for myself? Well, unfortunately as a wife I get treated the same. I’m tired of fighting, asking, trying to be different so that he can grow. It’s getting worse and worse with this man. I’m starting to lose myself and who I am in this.

    1. Unfortunately I have more. I was sitting at home really ill. I had cancer and was in remission when I met my husband desperate for love I guess and felt I would never be able to get married in my current condition from the cancer. I met my husband; we became friends; he said he liked me and before we knew it we married. After we married and I saw what I was dealing with. I truly wanted to know why he married me. Was it for love, companionship or what he replied that he didn’t really love me he felt sorry for me because I was so sick and didn’t have anyone else so he decided that he would marry me to help?

      Well that sounds so nice until you realize that you had to abide by his rules and that is to let him be his self because that’s all he wants from women and they can be married to him as long as they don’t ask for him to give himself as a husband with emotions. He said he’s not willing to give that part of himself to any woman so I stayed with my husband because I didn’t believe in divorce but all of this has made me get up, even though I still get sick a lot. I work two jobs now and have gained my self dignity again now that I love my husband and said if he wants a divorce I will give it to him. All I want is for him to get some help because I think he’s dealing with some deep, deep issues and I pray to Yeshua that he gets help. I love him and have hope for him.

  2. I enjoyed reading this. I’m in this situation with my husband. I’ve tried all of your suggestions, but my husband is still the same. I even believe he has been abusing me in our relationship with cursing, name calling, wrestling, etc. I love him but I don’t want to stay if it’s not healthy for me and my children and hopeless. When I seek happiness for myself, he approaches me with negativity, yelling and intimidation. He’ll say I’m “doing my own thing.” So he won’t allow me to find things that make me relaxed. My case seems very hopeless. Can you respond here or to my email. Thank you.

  3. As many others have expressed, this article reflects the current state of my marriage. For nearly 20 years my marriage has been plagued by varying levels of infidelity, unrealistic expectations, selfishness, and wounds that have not never been properly dealt with. My husband’s method is to ignore, deny, dismiss, and blame. I consider myself a “check engine light”, and over the years I have pointed out serious issues before they got bad, and due to his indifference, the issues got worse and worse. I cannot express how angry, frustrated, and resentful I have felt.

    I started going to counseling alone since he refused to go, and he has painted me out to be the crazy selfish one to his family. Only our close friends know the real truth, but he is able to deceive his family because they live far away and just take his word. He is unable to be rebuked or reproved by godly men, or our pastor and he refuses to be accountable to anyone, priding himself in being a “private” person. He reads the Bible, goes to church, etc., but there is little change in his character and how he loves me. Even when he admits to his faults, he will minimize them, or blame them on external circumstances.

    We do not have a violent relationship, but trust has been broken severely, and we cannot communicate effectively. He’ll say he is sorry, but then turn around and say something contrary. His heart betrays the words he speaks. He shows no remorse for his transgressions and it comes off like I brought it on myself. I have researched emotional abuse and there is quite a bit of it. I have put it in God’s hands but I can’t lie, I’m frustrated, and tired. He seems to be content ignoring things and pretending all is well. He likes to laugh and joke, and talk about superficial things (sports, tv, news, etc), but we don’t have a deep emotional or spiritual connection. I don’t know how anyone can live like this. I feel like a dying flower sometimes. I’m doing everything I can but my efforts are not being matched.

  4. I have been married for 38 years. Unfortunately, I can’t remember if any of it was happy. I guess there were times. Right after we married, my husband began to withhold intimacy from me. All types of affection, communication and sexual intimacy. We have gone many, many, years between sexual encounters.

    My husband grew up with an alcoholic father in a dysfunctional household. I don’t know a lot about his life then except that it was a combination of fun (they lived on a lake) and strife. He became sexually involved with his high school sweetheart in his junior year. He was an athlete and they were both voted “Most Popular” senior superlatives.

    After high school graduation, he left town to attend our state school and she went to visit her grandfather in a far off state and decided not to return. She offered no explanation at the time, something he has never been able to resolve. His grandfather and benefactor died around the same time and his parents were unable to help him financially at college. He flunked out, was drafted, and sent to Vietnam. He spent Christmas and his 21st birthday there. When he returned from his tour, his parents were at work and there was no one at home or in the community to welcome him home. I give you this background because he has never been able to emotionally mature or overcome the effect these events had on his personality.

    He married within a few years but that only lasted two or three years. They were both still in love with their high school sweethearts. And then we met. For me, it was intense physical attraction. I really don’t know what drew him to me. Our relationship took a long time to develop and we married after a 6-year courtship. I was in love with him many, many years before I believe he was in love with me. Little did I know that he was never able to resolve the breakup with his high school sweetheart.

    We trucked along for many years, raising our family. He drank heavily and became an alcoholic. I was an over-eater. We were very involved with our children’s activities and they became our focus, recreation and social life. We were married for 18 years when he re-established a relationship with his former high school sweetheart at a reunion they attended that year. They spent the night together. He didn’t return home until 1:00 p.m. the following day. I was left at home to worry, and to explain to my teenage children what happened. He told me he wanted to stay with me. But secretly he didn’t want to give her up. She was still living in a far off state but they continued to have a long distance relationship for approximately 5 years.

    The same year he reunited with her, the shipyard where we lived and he worked, closed. He had worked there for 18 years and was unable to retire. It took him several years before he was able to acquire an adequate job with our county. He was miserable and so was I. During these years, we have no kind of communication or intimate relationship. He stopped wanting to have sex with me at all after our second child was born. We went 13 months before he gave in to my begging. Then 10 years passed and on and on.

    I was a good homemaker and caregiver but apparently not a good wife. I tried to coerce him into having sex, making needed repairs on our 100-year-old home, communication, you name it. I threatened, I cried, I begged, I pleaded, I tried every manipulative method I could come up with. Nothing has worked. I have become a horrible, unhappy witch. Which he will happily tell you, I am sure.

    We had a series of losses around the time he lost his job. His mother passed away, my mother passed away. I had been a stay at home mom for all those years and suddenly went back to work to support my family. My son, who was 13 at the time, told me that it was the worst time of his life. Nothing had grown any better only worse. We were basically living in the same house as roommates. My children grew, went to college and left home. We are now grandparents. 3 years ago, he retired. He didn’t tell anyone until he had done it. He walked into the human resources office and retired, that day. I am still working to support us.

    Last year, he reconnected with his high school sweetheart again. They had a texting and phone conversation relationship. I read lovey-dovey texts between them. I was devastated. He was sorry he was caught. He didn’t want to leave. I insisted we seek therapy. The therapist suggested that I should leave given the fact that this was the second time he cheated with this woman. I decided to stay in this unhappy marriage for the sake of my own family life and my grandchildren. They have no clue.

    I think he has finally resolved his feelings for her. Some of his other high school friends shared that his former had been married at least 5 times and had lied about her credentials as a child psychologist. Information that she had not shared with him in their many conversations. That seemed to wake him up but who knows for sure. I am recovering but it is difficult when I know he had all of these intimate conversations with her but has never been able to share the same with me.

    I am miserable. We are still roommates. We have no intimate relationship. Our home is in such a state of disrepair that I think it is unsafe. He controls the money and will not hire anyone to make repairs. He hides liquor bottles all over the place and drinks most of the time. He makes promise after promise that he does not keep. I don’t think he intends to keep them when he makes them. He is unable or unwilling to talk about our marriage, our future or any subject that is not superficial.

    38 years of marriage is a long time to let go. I am too old to start over and too old to go on. I am trapped. I now have Type II diabetes from being overweight and am struggling with weight loss. I have had some success but it is a struggle every day. I have prayed and prayed to the almighty in heaven to help me, my husband and heal my marriage. But so far, I have not been able to hear the answers.

    My life seems to be one struggle after the other. I work all the time, 40 to 50 hours a week outside the home and both days of the weekend at home. My husband is home all day but he doesn’t do housework. Because of my complaints and refusal to do it, he will sometimes do his own laundry and begrudgingly a little of mine while he is doing it. He cuts the grass and takes out the trash. He has started providing supper when I get home, cooking most of the time. I am grateful for that. He is drunk quite often when I get home. This generally sets me off.

    He spends a lot of time on the computer, on his phone playing games and napping. He likes pornography and self-gratification. He has pat answers to all of my questions. Such as, why didn’t you work on the house today? His answer, I don’t know. Why don’t you try to clean the house so I don’t have to work so hard on the weekends? Because I am a bad man, he says. You would think I would learn not to do this to either of us. I treat him like I am his mother, lecturing, cajoling, berating, shaming, talking until I am blue in the face. All to no avail, knowing it doesn’t reach him but only to push him further away. I have become a terrible person.

    I am still praying for healing for both of us. But if it comes at all, it seems terribly late in life. For those of you younger than I, do the hard work and get help now. Don’t stay in a relationship without love and affection and communication. It has killed my spirit and changed my personality to my detriment. I am no longer the sweet little southern girl that I used to be. I am hard and jaded. I think I hate myself more than he hates me.

    I have read all of the recommended self-help books, articles, blogs and comments. But for me I think it is too late. I have begun to concentrate on my salvation. Perhaps, then I will be free.

    1. Hi there. I read your article because I’m currently in a serious relationship with someone who can be emotionally distant when he’s focused, stressed or tired. He becomes aloof and acts as if he doesn’t even know me too well. It’s strange. Other times when he’s alright, which is most of the time, he’s fine. He’s so loving normally. He’s very supportive and he spoils me a lot. He treats me very well. I’m currently 22, nearly 23. He’s 33.

      He was previously married, which he was open with from the first date. He’s a very transparent man. He told me how she cheated and fell pregnant. He still wanted to pursue the marriage even still but she still asked for a divorce. He told me a few things about her like how none of his friends liked her and how she said she never felt loved by him. She couldn’t have been an easy woman to live with if none of his friends liked her. That says something to me. Apparently, according to both him and his family, he did all the housework and also supported them both financially while she studied. His commitment to the marriage is very important to me. It speaks for how he would be if he married me. He’s healed from everything now but it is still a part of his past.

      My point here is how I wonder why she said she never felt loved by him. Did she struggle with what I do? Was he aloof with her too? People don’t change their spots and while I know he has grown a lot since then I’m not sure I could live with this. He doesn’t treat me badly when he’s distant. He’s just distant. He’s in like a day dream. Is this something you started seeing in your husband when things started to not go as well?

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I’ve never been married so I don’t feel I could be of too much help but can I suggest that you just press into God? I know so well how that is easier said than done. Try press into Him and ask Him to renew your spirit. Ask Him to heal you of your jadedness and to soften your heart again. I also thing constant forgiveness is something you should focus on.

      I’ve worked through healing rooms quite a bit and it is overwhelming how much unforgiveness destroys our spirits. Don’t allow unforgiveness to settle in your heart for more than 30sec. Be aware of your thoughts. Forgiveness is not acknowledging that what the other person has done is correct. It’s the acceptance that you don’t need that bondage in your life anymore because that’s exactly what it is. I think that what might be what has caused you to end up hard and jaded as you’ve said. This morning I bumped into someone who deeply hurt me once. It was difficult for me to look past the pain they caused me. I called him “Satan.” He wouldn’t have heard me. I felt myself guarding myself. I was hurt to see him. I caught myself in the act and stopped myself. I asked God for help. He had me see this long gone friend of mine the way that Our Heavenly Father does: without blemish or fault. It softened me. It made it easier to let go. That’s something I was taught in the healing rooms. I hoped you let it help you too. I don’t pretend that it’s easy or that I even get it right every time but I’m a different person now because of it.

      Right now I’m working on renewing my mind daily because I know how my flesh is so quick to grab me into darkness. I’m working on spending time with my Father in the morning and evening. The morning, for me, is especially important because it sets a precedent for the day and ultimately changes who you are.

      It’d be really great for me to hear from you. I’d love to pray with you. Lots of love and God bless, Tam

      1. Thank you, Tam. I believe you are correct that I need to focus on Him. I am trying to do that more and more each day. Forgiveness is key. I knew almost from the beginning of our marriage that something had dramatically changed from our courtship and engagement. He immediately began to withdraw and withhold love and affection. This was not an infrequent mood this was more of an overnight change. I was too young and naive to realize we were in serious trouble. It sounds like you have a good man in your life. Pray together and for each other. I am a very spiritual person and prayer is important to me. My husband is a believer but it is so distant that if he prays he does not pray with me. This would make him too vulnerable so it’s something he would never do. I pray every day for God to allow this to happen. I think it could make all the diffence in our lives, even now.

    2. Maybe there is nothing that can be said that you have not heard. You mentioned concentrating on your salvation. That is key. For that to happen, the human nature has to give way to a spiritual nature. Jesus Christ gave some very powerful teaching on that. He equated it with the cross. He said: Anyone who wants to save his life must lose it. It simply means inwardly dying to ourselves, and allowing him to give peace to our hearts. He may not change your circumstances. But he can and does give strength to walk through them. My prayer is for you to experience the love and peace that Jesus wants for everyone. When it comes, it will give you a joy that this world will never know.

      1. Jacob, Thank you for that message. It spoke to me in ways that I knew the HOLY SPIRIT wanted for me to know! As you stated, “God may not change the circumstance but he will give us the strength and peace to walk through it”! Sweet Spirit!!! I needed that to be reaffirmed as a woman growing in Christ, a wife. It’s been a tough beyond a tough road for my spouse and I, and I need to speak my story to like minded Godly and wise folks because I never know where my peace will come from. I never know what will bless me and vice versa upon others. So this article in its entirety including some of the replies posted are a blessing to me on this Sunday.

        My story, It will be a year into my marriage on 20 December. It has been a battle since the honeymoon. I do not think we experienced a “honeymoon” phase within our marriage for the past almost year. I feel like I don’t know who I married and I believe the same for my husband. We have resulted in verbal instigate language, physical aggression. I have initiated most of it of the physical, and emotional abuse, infidelity on my part I don’t know about his. I have to take accountability because NO matter what I can walk away, keep quiet, pray, put on headphones to listen to music, read… etc to channel my energy in a more positive manner.

        The spiritual me knows that -the human part of me exhibits a ticking time bomb many times. Though I can be nice and show niceness towards my spouse the unemotional evading person of who he is counters me at all cost. I resent my husband. I’m sad, lonely and depressed most times due to him not fully stepping up to the plate even when we do have spurts of Sunshine between us. Roles have reversed in many ways as the article states. I am living in this everyday, either overtly or covertly. We have done counseling with our pastors. We have spoken to family members experienced in marriage, we have sought counsel and mediation in our home, though no consistency comes from it. Where is the follow-through? Where is the accountability?

        The physical intimacy, in and outside the bedroom is not really present. At times I wanted to cry while in the act because I believe he is out for climatic portion of the physicality between us instead of the connection that husband wife should have. As a result we decided it would be okay if we have an open situation because of the extreme lack of connection and passion that seems to be exhibited between us. I am not just happy with that. We made a choice to do this together and so outsiders can satisfy temporary solutions but the real connection I would like to have with my husband. He is the evading unemotional spouse where I am the emotional eager wife. I feel like we were better off as friends. He is Nigerian man, I’m Jamaican by lineage though born in USA. I’ve experienced all types of ethnicity and cultures. I’m well versed, though my husband’s ways are unlike anything I have experienced as it relates to me as a woman to a man. I know culture can have boundaries but he is not my first Nigerian man that I have known. He is my husband, yes that’s different, however I believe I have adapted to his cultural ways though his personality is something I have questioned and how we clash time and time and time again.

        I want to be happier and it does start with me. I want to experience a blissful marriage at least some of the time… this unstableness is wearing on my spirit daily. I see us getting closer when around family and friends and then when alone most times we are back to the storm that existed between us since honeymoon.

        I do not want to keep a man as my husband if he does not want to fight to keep this marriage not for comfort sake but emotional mental and physical sake. …I believe we were meant to be for a purpose and for whatever reason we are not seeing eye to eye truly and maybe we not meant for forever just to have a specific purpose God needed us to fill and to come and teach us somethings about ourselves.

        I’m saddened by this reality if this is so… but I can’t continue to live in a disharmonious marriage day in and day out. I know God will give me the strength to keep going and trouble does not last always with or without my husband. I am open to feedback/responses of all kinds! Thanks for allowing me to share.

    3. Dear Tess, I am deeply sorry for all of the pain you have had to endure. You write so eloquently about your life. I pray you can find your own happiness. Blessings to you and prayers of peace and healing as you work to move forward. Sincerely, KKC

  5. This has given me a high level of hope. My hope was at the verge of dying. I will want the book. I really need help cos I just can’t breathe at the moment.

  6. Weird how the word “heterosexual” isn’t in your articles but non heterosexuality is. Weird how come “Christians” never say the word “heterosexual;” what’s wrong? Are you defending A WORD?!?

  7. I’ve read most of the posts…and lots of it sounds familiar, but I have a unique question. My husband has more sexual energy than I do, but I rarely turn him down when he asks. On the other hand I don’t initiate sex with him (southern raised – you know, good girls don’t do that type of things). We are separated but living in the same house. He had asked me to move to another bedroom to avoid temptation. For years now, we have had sex in the morning, and when asked why he has replied that he usually wasn’t turned down, and that morning sex was uncomplicated. And even though he told me we were separating, he still wants sex. That’s all it is though sex, no kissing, no touching, nothing involving and emotional or physical contact other than the actual act of sex. I know I am not to withhold my body from him as my husband, but should we continue to do this without this connection?

    A little background….I had to retire from my job because depression and several other illnesses which made it impossible for me to work. I am not a good housekeeper and seldom cook for him. Physical work makes many chores, even shopping, impossible, do to some of the illnesses I have. He has told me many times what he needs me to do to help with the housework, and I take full responsibility for my actions; I can see where he is right in asking these things of me. And he would like me to do things like shopping with him, going to church, etc. I can go a week or two without even leaving the house, and it doesn’t bother me in the least.

    We don’t fight. Never have. I’m not a nagging wife. We have been married for over 30 years, and even though he is several years younger, he has always been more mature. I have not felt loved in many, many years. He won’t hold hands, touch, hug or kiss me. I moved in to take care of my parents and lived with them for a couple of years. So this is not our first separation, and he filed for divorce, but never went through with it. We reconciled, and things continued as normal. He wouldn’t talk with me about our problems and the same ones were still there. He has never been a man to try to talk about what was/is bothering him. The old “as long as we don’t talk about it there’s not a problem”.

    The first separation, I had been on the wrong depression medication for three years, and he never noticed the whole three years I was having sucidal tendencies during these years. My husband is a man of God, ( I’m a Christian also). I’m trying not to pry into his business and activities. I am positive he would not cheat on me. On the other hand, I can feel myself resenting his involvement in church activities which are consuming huge amounts of his time! If he is not doing something at church, he is talking to someone about activities at church. I guess I feel as if I should come after God but before anything else. Am I wrong in thinking this? Please tell if I am!

    I dearly love him and I choose to still be in love him. He said he cares for me, but isn’t in love with me.

  8. I am a male. I’ve been reading these comments and have noticed that most of them are from women trying to change their husbands. I am in a place whereby I was good enough to marry, but now find myself in a place where I am supposedly a bad husband. I’ve endured many cursed language lashings, even physical abuse, because I can’t change into what my wife wants me to change into. She has put on 90 pounds since we were married. It is harder to look at her in a more sensual way, and she wonders why I am not more sexually interested. This is a subject that I don’t believe that I could ever bring up to her because of the pain that it would bring her. She knows the before and after pictures. I’ve tried to keep myself in more generally decent shape and have done so.

    This site seems to be replete with women who think that men should behave the way they want them to and then they will be happy. Happiness doesn’t work that way. In our culture, women are fed with the Disney princess prospect and that all marriages end in happiness forever after no matter what. If you depend on another person behaving in a certain way that you think will make you happy, then you are enslaving the other person or persons. I suggest that the princesses put their house in order before they order orders to their husbands. In my estimation, women in our society, are not taught to control their emotions/feelings/urges (with their intellect) the same way that our society insists that men control theirs.

    My wife behaved totally different before we were married than she did/does after we were married. She acted differently than she does now. She used to be happy and liked casual conversation and humor. Now, all she wants to talk about is how I am now not living up to her expectations as a husband. I have been relatively consistent throughout. I just can’t take the anger that flows now that never exhibited itself before. Anger destroys every relationship that it enjoins. Control the anger and things can progress.