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, 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 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 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. 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 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 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.

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 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. 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.

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. 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 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 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.

“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 help, Dr Richard Fitzgibbons offers insights into this difficult marital issue. He also gives practical tools to help you in the web site article:


And to help you even further, another book we recommend is Married…But Lonely. You can read the first chapter of Dr David Clarke’s book by going to the following link:


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568 responses to “The Emotionally Distant Husband

  1. It feels like you have a great explantation for the problem, but limited solutions. All I heard was keep working on you…be happy without him…and don’t quit. It is never going to it?

    1. Agree – great description of the issues, but little in way of suggestions for how to improve the situation, only ‘don’t quit’ and ‘work on your happiness.’

  2. This was a tough read, though it gets yout know you’re not alone. You might want to let your reader know early on that there are some suggestions at the end. I bet numerous people didn’t read to the end. I almost did not. Its kind of like reading Job! I prefer to skip to the end when all turns around despite the horrendous loss.

    I can only change myself & God gave me the same word at my lowest point. I am responsible for my actions & thoughts, I have to keep on doing my part, even if change never happens. It is still very depressing to think that after all you do nothing may ever ever change. But looking at the whole picture or skipping to the end is all I have to keep me going.

  3. I loved reading this, Thank you. There is a real distance between my husband, and I. He does not like to help me hardly at all with house chores. He acts like only his needs matter, and it really hurts. He is selfish, plays games all the time, when he is not working (video games). I know I have faults, but it seems like he just does not care.

  4. This article describes my almost 30 year marriage to at “T.” A therapist I was seeing when my husband-to-be and I were dating told me that our relationship was going to be tough and she recommended not making a lifelong commitment. She said, “You’re like a yappy little poodle running around a turtle who keeps pulling his head in. You will always be caught in the anger-guilt cycle.” I agreed and laughed about the “example.” But hey, I was in love and did not heed what I knew to be true. He refused to go to therapy w/me after the 1st appointment w/her. It was terribly uncomfortable for him.

    This article, and I thank you for it, is immensely helpful and empowering for me, in that I don’t feel so entirely responsible for this unsatisfying connection. I do attend classes, go out w/friends sometimes, workout (this saves my life now and way before I met my husband), et al. And all those things do help validate my existence and self-worth. My husband and I do share like values, which is quite meaningful. Again thanks for this piece, I truly have never understood this dynamic in my marriage as well before this.

    1. Thank you Steph for letting us know that this is helpful. I pray you can continue to find healthy ways to break through in your own growth. Who knows, perhaps your husband will someday want more than “pulling his head in.” I hope so for both of your sakes.

  5. Nothing worse than reading a description of your problem without a solution to it. It was a long read, perhaps a little hope going in would be in order. I am married to an emotionally distant man, I have tried to get him to come out, we seemed to have bonded over difficult emotional issues when we met. He tends to logic away emotions, just yesterday I was telling him about xrays on a foot condition and he was like, “well you blew through that deductible”; What??? I feel very alone indeed, but am not at this point going to leave the relationship, I am 60 and in many other ways we are compatible. I just try to find my joy and be a good wife and the rest is up to God. I was never promised a rose garden, and I have never had one but God keeps me. I do think the worse thing is being told you should have known all this when you did not, like information is key to having a perfect life. Life unfolds and it rains on the righteous and unrighteous alike.

    1. My husband is the same way. I love God and we both worship him. I think my husband is selfish and it is all about him. I have withdrawn my comments and thoughts from my husband and he does not miss them. I would suggest you find a hobby and happiness that does not involve him (nothing sinful) and learn that this is all there is.

  6. First of all, I am so thankful to have read this. I just can relate every line and I am so glad I’m not alone. These past few weeks I’ve become so stressed because of my evasive husband. I told him that I cannot handle him anymore and I threatened him for an annulment (because divorce is not yet applicable here in the Phils.) if he won’t change. I’m not sure what comes up in his mind when he heard that. I’m already torn apart, depressed and angry.

    I’m not in love with him anymore because he kept on rejecting me when it comes to sex. I feel like we’re no longer healthy for each other. But there are times when he allowed me to have sex (because I always initiates) and now I have a feeling that I am pregnant. I am just so sad about me and my baby’s situation. This is not so easy to solve.

  7. Thank you so much, this article really hit home for me. My marriage is exactly as this article describes it and I just want to teach myself how to continue loving my husband while working on myself. I was going to seek counsel alone because my husband avoids the thought of seeking counsel. Maybe I still will do that but first I think I will get your book. Wish me luck.

    1. Mrs. Brady… I will do better than wish you luck. I will pray for you. I pray wisdom, strength, insight, and help as you do what you can do, and learn to let go of what you can’t. I pray for your husband too that his eyes will open to seeing how willing you are there to be his partner, and the love of his life if he would just open up and trust you, and not stay at a distance (for whatever reason he does this). “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ —to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

  8. I’m not sure why I’m posting this😐 I’m now 63,Young in my outlook towards life. In 2014 I left an abusive marriage,my ex lives abroad. A year later I met someone else, and I’m now living with him…He’s Lovely,definitely a non controller,and non confrontational.

    Every time I bring this subject up,which is basically about his undemonstrativeness if that’s the word…he declares undying love for me,doesn’t want to lose me etc etc. We can go days without even touching one another, unless I make the first move. I’m out and about most days, but he’ll literally go days without leaving the house…he works from home,and can be in his office for hours on end. He’ll come to bed late,then get up late.

    He says it stems from his childhood, as his parents weren’t demonstrative,although loving. He has 3 grown up children we rarely see, as they’re not local, but his ex wife left him for another man years ago. My partner and her now speak and are friendly. He then was with someone else, who died 2 years before I met him.

    It’s just now, although I love him, I’m getting tired of knowing how to get a response from him…we’ve discussed it. I’ve jokingly said this is the most unspoilt I’ve felt in a relationship, he just laughs! I’m getting too old for this,but I really don’t know what to do anymore. I suppose the word to describe him Is insular 😐
    I’ve even asked him if he feels depressed?

  9. Wow, what a fantastic article. I have been feeling much distress, especially at that thought that he doesn’t care and I am merely a convenience for him. It is still not right, and his lack of effort is very selfish, but this article really brought me peace by putting it all in perspective. This article better stated things that I’ve suspected, power and control games from him, but only had pieces.

    Now I feel this article has put all the puzzle pieces together so I can step back to see the whole picture in focus. Now I wish there was a bit more here about a boy’s upbringing that leads a man to take on these evasive patterns. If such exists, please direct me. I am bookmarking this article in the meanwhile.

  10. This is my husband. I’ve tried everything and I’ve tried doing nothing at all. I’ve tried going with the flow. I’ve tried safe place for sharing tactics. I’ve tried leaving him alone. Nothing works. I never get a straight answer out of him about anything. And I never know if he’s telling me the truth about anything. I’m patient and don’t accuse. I don’t nag. I try to be supportive and complimentary. But its useless.

    He doesn’t have a wall around him. He’s got 10 walls around him. And I’m starting to realize they were always there even before I came along. He was just really good at pretending and I was young and naive. I want to make this work but he’s a liar and I can’t control him or tell him what to do. Honesty, especially emotional honesty, seems to be something he has no interest in exploring.

    Anytime I subtlety suggest a circumstance that could lead to sharing any remotely small part of emotional intimacy with him, he suddenly acts as if the battle lines have been drawn. Anytime I share myself emotionally without even asking him to share back, he does the same thing. He shuts down and just doesn’t respond. Anytime I start telling him about my day and my feelings about something accidentally slip, he just stops listening to me and says “ok” over and over again. He seriously doesn’t care.

    I’m at a loss. And I’m very non-judgemental. I’m very forgiving. I’m not a jealous person. I let him go hang out with his friends and I don’t throw guilt trips. I try not to nag. I’m very careful not to do these things. Its like I’m an “on-call wife”. I’m his wife only when he feels like he wants one around. Which he obviously doesn’t want one around at all because I came home one day in May and he was gone. He continued to respond to me throughout the week that I was away acting like nothing was wrong and he had already moved out. He lied to me about everything.

    Before he left I asked over and over “I’m here for you and I love you. Is there anything you need from me?” And all I got back was “I’m fine”. But now he says we just aren’t compatible. I’m not sure how he would ever know whether we’re compatible or not because he ignored me all the time and never did anything with me. He promised to do all kinds of things when I was asked but never did and never had any intentions of doing so. And of course being married to me is the reason why he’s like this. But he was already like this. He’s placing us as opponents when I came into this marriage. I just didn’t realize it.

    1. Dear Anna, Oh, how my heart goes out to you! This is so heartbreaking… you can see him but can’t emotionally touch each other. I’m not sure what is happening in his head. I’m not sure if he has walled himself off to everyone who gets close for some reason that is yet unknown, or if it’s women that he doesn’t trust, or what. But there’s a book I highly recommend you read. It is written by Milan and Kay Yerkovich and is titled, How We Love. It’s published by published by Water Brook. The authors of this book “draw on the tool of an attachment theory to show how your early life experiences created an ‘intimacy imprint’ —an underlying blueprint that shapes your behavior, beliefs, and expectations of all relationships, especially your marriage. They identify four types of injured imprints that combine in marriage to trap couples in a repetitive dance of pain. The principles and solution-focused tools in this book will equip you to… –identify the imprints disrupting your marriage –understand how your love style impacts your mate –break free of negative patterns that hinder your relationship –enhance your sexual intimacy, and –create a deeper, richer marriage.”

      I heard the Yerkovich’s talk about this subject and could see how it could absolutely change the lives of many couples in positive ways as they better understood each other’s communication styles. It’s truly an enlightening book –revealing things I never realized before. I thought it might be something you may want to read through yourself to see if it helps you. It may give you some insights.

      Also, the Yerkovich’s also sometimes co-host the radio program, New Life Live, along with Steve Arterburn. It’s a call in radio program that airs all over the U.S. They talk about relationship issues. I recommend that you go to their web site at and get the phone number and call in sometime. Pose this situation to them. I’m not sure when the Yerkovich’s will be on… but you can call and ask, if nothing else. Also, they have a web site at And that may help also. It’s sure worth a try. It appears that you have been more than patient with your husband. But this may give you a different way to approach this problem. I sure hope so. Not only is this disturbing for you, but he is missing so much by being locked in emotionally as he is. Who knows? You may find a way to unlock a sleeping giant who very much needs to be awakened emotionally. I hope this helps and pray God shows you insights into this, along with gives you the strength to do what is needed. May God bless you as you continue in this quest for connection with your husband.

  11. The same can be true that a man can have an emotionally unavailable woman. After 10 years of trying to adapt and make things work I am done, what a waste of my life. It is usually caused by an overbearing parent and even an author with thousand of cases of experience can’t offer much more than do the best you can and accept it. I don’t want to die or watch a partner die this way and I sure don’t want to put my life on hold any more.

  12. My husband of 15 years left 3 weeks ago. Everything in this article nails it. He went to bed with me night after night for years and never looked my way…never. I had to beg for intimacy, and it disturbed him so much his body could only perform somewhat. He had affairs with 4 women and earlier in our marriage was charged, and plead guilty to prostitution solicitation (I believed his lies about being set up, but after the remaining years in our marriage, I do absolutely believe he was guilty as charged and that’s why he plead guilty).

    He is a chronic liar, about the most absurdly stupid things. He has turned to drugs to cope with his discomfort in his own skin and in our relationship. The drama and trauma just goes on and on. Last year, February, he left and had an affair with another woman and did a lot of drugs. He just can’t get comfortable in his own skin, nor his marriage.

    I, on the other hand, used to cry to him about how I felt. Eventually, after years of expressing my pain and sadness over the lack of connection and intimacy (not just sexual), I just got numb. Also, last year, February, from the trauma this brought on me after years of being married this way, and enduring all the mind screwing that goes on in my head trying to figure it out and come to terms with it, was diagnosed with PTSD. I have a spine injury that left me with RSD (aka CRPS). Guess what… husband left me 3 weeks ago, and I am literally not in near as much pain as I was while he was here. The only time my pain has gone extreme in the past three weeks was when I was struggling to accept the break up in our marriage.

    It boils down to this: I accept responsibility for not taking the appropriate time to get to know him before marrying him. I wanted to honor God and not sleep with him prior to marriage, so he proposed within 3 months and we were married at 11 months together. I dont know if he will stay gone, but honestly, it would be better for me in the long run if he did. Alternately, he is my very best FRIEND in the whole world and I adored him and doing life with him. We had many like minded views and I miss his company something terrible. I do not miss suffering from the pain in my head and in my heart that my husband did not display any kind of affection or desire for me. That feeling is disastrous and there is no cure for it…it just eats your soul away, day after day, without relief, without end. I have been hurting for so very long.

  13. One thing that I wish was addressed… if I start focusing all of this energy working on myself and making myself happy and strong, I’ll just leave his avoiding, whining, blaming, making-my-life-harder-than-it-needs-to-be nonsense. I am so sick of hearing that I need to change for things to get better. I’m better off starting over ALONE.

  14. This is further confirmation that I (a man) am not meant to ever be friends with, live with, or marry a woman. Why would I sign up for a life of torture? Women need to be avoided like the plague.

    1. Ha, you sound like my husband. Can’t live with us, can’t live without us. But here’s the thing: you can’t run away from yourself.

      Why is longing and trying to have a meaningful connection torture? Maybe you can help us understand, what are/were you in the marriage for?