The Emotionally Distant Husband

Emotionally Distant Pixabay man-1150037_640Are you eager to be linked in a loving relationship with a man who cares about you deeply, but it’s just not happening? Are you willing to encourage him on the deepest emotional levels, but you can’t chip through the ice? Do you feel that despite your relatively lax expectations, you are being taken advantage of? In other words, does a void exist for you because you have an emotionally distant husband?

In my counseling practice I specialize in treating common emotional stresses. if left unattended, They can turn into major debilitating problems. The hurting people who come to see me are trying to cope with anger, depression, anxiety in their marriage. These issues are usually played out in the home. I often face the task of helping people understand how their emotions relate to their unsolved marriage problems.

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

Over twenty-five thousand counseling sessions have shown me that the most common marital problem I encounter is the case of an emotionally eager wife whose husband will not engage with her on a deep, meaningful, and personal level. These phrases are indicators of the problem of being emotionally distant and disconnected:

  • “Just when I think we’ve really connected, he does something to prove he never understood a thing I said.”
  • “I think the guy is oblivious to my feelings.”
  • “What does it take to get through to him?”
  • “He cares more about his work [or sports or hobbies] than he does about me.”

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

Good Reason to Be Disappointed

As I consult in case after case, I see that many emotionally eager women have good reason to feel disappointed. Most women need strong, growing relationships that are openly expressed. Unfortunately, their husbands fail to supply that need. They are emotionally distant. These wives are living with men who have unconsciously committed themselves to an evasive way of life.

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

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

Options are Available in Dealing with the Emotionally Distant Spouse.

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

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

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

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

The Emotionally Distant Identifying Pattern

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

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

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

Ways He Evades Processing

He then —and this is a key —begins looking for ways to end his participation in his wife’s processing. He may withdraw or try to put her back onto a path of logic or perhaps even explode. The explosion, you see, is a diversion. It’s a distraction —in essence, a change of subject. Changing the subject is another often-used way out of processing. He is guided by the dread of having to spend any more time than is necessary to dwell on her emotional needs, for he almost never sees them as needs.

Women generally experience feelings and emotions more intensely than do men, mostly because they allow themselves to. A wife lets emotions run their course even as the husband is trying to stuff them, and to get rid of them. That is because he sees them as anti-productive. Let me emphasize that there is no right-and-wrong about having strong emotions. It is not wrong to even, to some extent, downplay them. But because she recognizes and even nurtures her emotional side, the wife can enjoy life in its richest, fullest dimension.

Insistent Anger and Resistant Anger

Relationship and family connections are the most important ingredients in most wives’ lives. By their very nature, close relationships generate strong emotions. The wife can inadvertently create problems. This happens when she so craves emotional connections that she loses the ability to respond with reason or calm. She may become anxious. She certainly becomes angry. Not to put too fine a point on it, but hers is an insistent anger whereas his is a resistant anger.

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

Evasive Behavior

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

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

Factors Behind the Pattern

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

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

Let’s look at the seven indicators:

1. Communication is reduced to power plays.

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

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

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

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

2. The emotionally distant husband avoids commitment and personal accountability.

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

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

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

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

The Emotionally Distant Fear of Accountability

With this fear of accountability, these men fuel the wives’ worst fears of marital isolation. The men do whatever they must to keep a safe distance. This is exactly the opposite of what the emotionally eager wives are seeking. The men keep their feelings well hidden. But their wives want feelings brought into view. The men think they dare not expose their preferences lest they be denied. (In other words, the woman controls the situation through the power of choice.) The women want more than anything else to know what their men want.

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

3. Leadership roles are confused.

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

Have either of these scenarios happened in your home?

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

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

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

Has Emotionally Distant Preference to Lie Low

But here we’re talking about open, visible leadership. Being chronic conflict avoiders, these men prefer to lie low and stay out of the fray. In the battle of the sexes, it’s a good way to keep your head from being shot off. They falsely assume that openness invites problems.

It’s that don’t-rock-the-boat thing again. Unfortunately, by backing away from the leadership role, these men are sacrificing the family’s long-term needs —a stable leader —for the short-term goal of peace-for-the-moment.

Interestingly, in many cases, men who back out of the leadership role in personal and family matters are anything but weak in business pursuits or civic projects.

1. Relationship is secondary to performance.

Human beings err, make occasional wrong choices, and are occasionally selfish. In healthy marriages, the partners recognize this fact and allow plenty of room for open conflict resolution. Emotionally eager wives would welcome the chance to discuss problems. But because the evasive husband prefers to minimize his own emotional vulnerability, he customarily runs from the threat of having to struggle with emotions. Logic tells us that if a man is running away from something, he is also running toward something else. What is it that men run toward to avoid personal interactions? Performance.

Now, as a very general rule, men are performance-oriented anyway. Whereas women enjoy the process of doing something, men want to reach the goal as quickly and efficiently as possible and go on to something else. (Again, I remind you, there are plenty of exceptions to this.)

Commonly, evasive men will not mind giving time to an activity such as yard work, fishing, a project at the church. It’s familiar turf. They already know how to do those things. They’ll see a nice, neat, trimmed-up yard, the new church fence, perhaps a fish or two as something. But relationships require being not doing, an unsettling concept for many men.

2. Sexual relating is out of sync.

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

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

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

Slipping into an Emotionally Distant Comfortable Shell

The more common extreme has the evasive man showing little tenderness during waking hours. When bedtime comes, his engine turns on, and he gets his satisfaction from his wife. Then he slips back into his comfortable shell. He may even turn on at two o’clock in the morning, make his move, then go back to sleep. This approach to sex neatly minimizes emotional intimacy without minimizing the feel-good experience. The wife’s emotions are hardly considered.

The emotionally eager wife, then, develops conflicting feelings about marital sex. Part of her wants it and sees it as a wonderful communication time. But she is afraid of the hurt that comes as she senses her husband is merely after physical relief.

Often, if this conflict goes on long enough, one spouse or the other may opt for an outside form of sexual satisfaction. This is in the way of  an affair, pornography, or flirtations outside marriage. Either spouse can feel such strong disappointment as to be abnormally vulnerable to temptation.

3. Personal insights are unequal.

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

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

This eagerness does not always translate into significant change.

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

4. Both sides feel victimized.

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

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

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

The emotionally eager wife feels just as victimized by her emotionally distant husband.

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

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

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

Beginning the Journey Toward Improvement

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

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

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

Don’t Quit

That does not mean that you quit doing anything. If you believe that your husband is ducking away from topics you are sure must be discussed, that he is becoming evasive in the midst of emotional exchanges, can you tell him about the frustration this creates without overworking the point or becoming confrontational? Everything will be working against you.

The heat of the moment makes a person say things she would not say at a less emotional time. And most of all, old habits die hard. You are accustomed to addressing an issue in a particular way now. It is exceptionally hard to change your approach. But it will pay dividends if you can do it. Personal soul-searching will help you turn things around and give positive traits to your marriage.

To get a good idea about how ready you are to do the soul-searching necessary for real growth, be aware of your use of one simple word. You. How often is that word spoken as you are trying to make sense of the tensions with your mate? I’m not suggesting that you should never be spoken. I am saying, though, that its overuse indicates that you are not looking inward.

Work on Your Happiness

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

The emotionally eager wife will say, “Yes! Of course.” But then she amends that with a but. “I’m willing to adjust, but my husband needs to change.” Whether or not you are correct to say this, you are basing your happiness and responses on someone else’s behavior.

Your willingness to work on your own issues will be the key for finding personal peace, then potentially, success in that most important relationship, your marriage.

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

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

— ALSO —

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


Here is another article to read that you may find to be helpful in dealing with this issue:


And then lastly, here is another article for you to read:


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613 responses to “The Emotionally Distant Husband

  1. I have been married for a long time, 27 years. My husband is very physically loving and sexual, he just does not communicate and if I try to he shuts down or changes the subject. I have become numb over the years. I hate sex, although, I submit to his needs all of the time and we work hard to keep sex interesting (for him). I get no pleasure sleeping with him – a stranger. He thinks I enjoy sex because he does. He never has anything to say. He comes home and I ask how his day went – same answer, good. After that the conversation is over. Unless we talk about food, fun, or sex, there is no conversation. He is perfectly happy this way. His father never spoke to his mother either. I live in such an empty marriage. We are very involved in church. He talks to people at church but not me. If he is talking to someone and I walk up to them, he will stop talking. He tells me he loves me quite frequently. Other than that it is silence. I have learned to live in an empty quiet marriage. I wonder sometimes if this is all there is in life.

    1. Linda, I’m so sorry for the angst you have been experiencing. What you describe here happens in so many marriages. It’s difficult to tell in this format because there could be so much that I don’t know about, but from what you describe, it sounds like he is just clueless as to the importance of conversing in marriage. He probably figures this is how it’s supposed to be. He can’t imagine (no matter how much you tell him to the contrary) that conversation is the way that you feel connected to him. For him, it’s having sex. For you, it is through having close conversation with him. That is the way it is in most marriages (although there are some exceptions).

      As I read your comment I thought of the Mark Gungor conference titled, “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage.” In it he talks about this issue (in a humorous way). Steve and I have gone to this conference quite a few times. We even have a copy of the DVD of the conference and show it to couples. (You can obtain it at his web site at If you can get it, it’s hilarious, and it’s profound, plus practical). He even has a shorter DVD where he features that issue (it’s that particular part of the conference). It’s titled, “The Tale of Two Brains.” We showed it recently to a couple that was getting married and they couldn’t say enough good about it. Again, if you can get it, I highly recommend it. You could watch it and then show it to your husband. He might resist at first, but once he watches it for a few minutes, he will see that it’s really funny and gives great insights, as well.

      My husband Steve used to be a lot like what you described. When we were going together, we did great together. But after about a year of marriage he went into the quieter pattern –talking at work (where he was a Christian broadcaster with his own radio show), and talking at church, but at home he was quieter. He was also physically loving and sexual. But he just didn’t get it as far as the importance of intimate conversation. We went through some real marital problems (over other issues) and almost divorced. But the Lord grabbed both of us (long story) and we reconciled. Even so, we needed to learn how to build our marriage so that it was healthy.

      Steve went to a men’s conference and the main speaker talked about the fact that women and men approach conversation and connection entirely differently. It’s typical for men to come home from work or a day away and just respond, when asked how their day went, with a “fine” or “good.” They will offer very little additional information. If you want a man to talk about their day it’s usually during a time when you are involved doing something side-by-side. Steve came home from the conference and said that he would start working on that–to give me more than just a pat answer. Little-by-little he started doing that. And now he is quite gabby about things like that. But he had to break his old pattern because he realized that I needed more from him than that. And I have learned to be more creative in my approaches.

      If I were a betting person (which I’m not… but if I were) I’d bet that your husband is absolutely clueless as to the importance of conversation. He also probably feels uncomfortable in talking about things–other than surface things to you. A lot of this has to do with their brain chemistry and how they were raised, etc. We have an article that I highly recommend you read. Also make sure you read the articles we link to so you get the bigger picture. You can find it at: And then here’s another one:

      After reading these articles pray about what you can do about this. These articles (and others I have studied) have helped me to approach my husband differently than I approach my gal friends. But I have to say that over the years, as I have done this, we now talk openly and have great conversations. My husband told me that he now enjoys talking (where he didn’t so much before). Things CAN change. I’ve seen this in my marriage, and in many, many others.

    2. Linda – I feel you. I am in the exact same situation except only conversation we are allowed to have is even more basic: the weather, what the plans are for the day, and how/where the kids are (teenagers). He absolutely knows how important deep conversation is to me as I have brought it up to him for over 19 years. All I get is anger if I try to broach the subject. I do not get love, affection or affirmation during the awake hours. I have been wrong in not getting additional help over the years as it has now impacted my 16 and 18 year old daughters immensely as his relationship with them is also very shallow, disconnected, and critical.

      My oldest daughter deals with depression, anxiety, and is now pregnant at 18. I didn’t want to “rock the boat” as I have already been divorced once before and I know that is not God’s will for marriage, but I believe my long-enduring self preservation in the marriage relationship has caused detrimental damage to our children. I don’t feel safe bringing up concerns or talking about serious topics with my husband due to his inability to be compassionate, loving, and encouraging.

      I can no longer think clearly about what to do next or how to handle the future. He sleeps in our bed when he feels like it. I feel no joy in our home anymore. I shamefully look forward to his out of town business trips and dread his return. I want to make our marriage work, but so much has happened over the many years in such an insidious manner I no longer feel like I can love him and myself much of the time anymore. I just want to honor God, but I am beginning to understand God doesn’t want me to dishonor myself or my children in the process either.

      1. Patti, I have 41 years of a detached cold dead marriage from the start, actually, but not until about 4 years ago I read about Asperger’s! That explained EVERYTHING! Only now my 3 adult children’s lives are so DAMAGED! I’m so TIRED! I’ve been through some real trauma and am paying the price for staying in a marriage with what seems like living with pure evil! My children have so many serious issues. It’s HARD seeing what I let happen to myself and my children and my relationship with God. I have a hard time believing God wanted me and my children to SUFFER LIKE THIS!
        It’s IMPOSSIBLE to have a marriage by yourself! I read your post and my heart went out to you and your children and I wanted to say PLEASE KEEP THE LORD FIRST! Take care.

  2. I feel like you have stepped into my life and summarized it. The way you described my husband, the way you described me. My husband left suddenly, almost a year ago after a 29 year marriage that was generally, on the surface, pretty good. He was having an affair, long distance which still continues. It has been a year of bewilderment, profound grief and much soul searching for me. He has unfortunately not made the situation easier through blundering and insensitive actions; taking some money, suggesting counseling while he secretly continued the relationship, superficial self centred apologies etc. Such a waste.

    Your article helps me understand how we got to this situation like nothing else I have read so far. He seems in a hurry to settle, not understanding the dismantling of our life is taking me a little longer too. So much fallout, the kids, his family, our friendships. And I suppose he has now managed to detach from all of us and move on, as it seems that is a way to cope for husbands in this situation. I wonder about this journey, what typically happens for people like him? For me, I am furiously working to make a life, to stay afloat, to survive. Thriving will happen later, although I get glimpses when I force myself to do something I gave always wanted to do, but feared. Being on the edge has its advantages, it does spur you to action.

  3. I am so lonely and have expressed this to my husband at various times in our 43 years of marriage. I was a working Mother but felt like a single Mother. He never helped me or did anything with the kids and me. Now we are both retired. Our children are married and have families if their own and live 3 hours from us.

    We own a small winery and that is his priority. Out of 6 days of 8 waking hours, I see him maybe 2-3 hours at night. Then he watches the news and goes to bed. We do nothing together! We haven’t been on a vacation in 8 years. When I tell him how lonely I am his answer is he wishes I could find something out there to do. Well, I’m involved in church work but a marriage, to me, means at least doing some things together, going on vacation at least once a year.

    The winery is closed on Mon-Tues although he spends all day there and sometimes it’s between 7-8:30 before he comes home for dinner!

    Yes, I have friends. Yes, I have a personal trainer 3 days a week for an hour each day. But the only way I know I’m married is there are men’s clothing in the laundry. Over the 43 years of marriage he has been verbally and mentally abusive to me. At times of sickness, surgeries, etc. he doesn’t take care of me. Even when the surgeon says you need to stay with her the first 24 hours, he leaves me alone.

    He doesn’t cuddle with me, hug me, kiss me. I feel like I’m just a convenience in his life. Clean house, clean clothes, home cooked meal every night.

    I’m a Christian and don’t believe he loves me as Christ loved the Church. In fact, I don’t even think he loves me any more. I told him two days ago that I had come to the conclusion that not only didn’t he like me, he no longer loved me. That was 2 days ago and he’s never responded or freed to talk to me about how I feel.

    I’m tired, so tired of being a “married, single woman”. I’m 67 and very sad and lonely.

    I’ve had cancer and thought that would be a wake-up call for him but it made no difference. I had double knee replacement two years ago. He took me for the surgery on Friday, stayed until I was out of recovery and left. He came back on Monday for the second surgery, stayed until I was out of recovery and left. He didn’t come to see me over the weekend at all. He finally came the next Thursday evening after our daughter found out he hadn’t been to see me! I was in a hospital outside of our town. No friends close to drop by.

    I could go on but I think you get the picture. I’ve sought counseling from a Pastor, a psychologist, two psychiatrists, and a female Christian Marriage Counselor who, after meeting him once, refused to see him again because of his know-it-all attitude and no accountability for his neglect of me.

    HELP!!! I’m ready to give up.

    1. Oh Suzanne, How my heart breaks for you… to be hurt and disappointed so many times in marriage has to be so frustrating. I’m so sad for you.

      As for helping, in this forum, it’s difficult to get enough info to know how to adequately respond. That’s where counselors come in. But as you said, you have tried a number of them. Have any of the counselors you’ve gone to ever brought up the idea that your husband may have Aspergers? That’s the first thing that my husband brought up when he read what you wrote. And the same thing came to me. That’s because those with Aspergers live “by the beat of a different drummer.” Everything you’ve brought up here is not unusual behavior for someone who has Aspbergers.

      I did an extensive study on this because of a close family member of ours that we’re sure has this. We’ve since learned how to act differently with this family member, and it has helped. They now call it “ASD” but it’s easier to find info if you put Aspergers into search engines. Here are a few things (among many, many things) I found out about this condition: “More males than females are diagnosed with Asperger syndrome or ASD. While every person who has the condition will experience different symptoms and severity of symptoms, some of the more common characteristics include:

      – average or above-average intelligence
      – difficulties with high-level language skills such as verbal reasoning, problem solving, making inferences and predictions
      – difficulties in empathizing with others
      – problems with understanding another person’s point of view
      – difficulties engaging in social routines such as conversations and ‘small talk’
      – problems with controlling feelings such as anger, depression and anxiety
      – a preference for routines and schedules, which can result in stress or anxiety if a routine is disrupted
      – specialized fields of interest or hobbies.
      – Emotions of other people

      “A person with Asperger syndrome may have trouble understanding the emotions of other people, and the subtle messages sent by facial expression, eye contact and body language are often missed or misinterpreted. Because of this, people with Asperger syndrome might be mistakenly perceived as being egotistical, selfish or uncaring. These are unfair labels because the person concerned may be unable to understand other people’s emotional states. People with Asperger syndrome are usually surprised when told their actions were hurtful or inappropriate.” I could go on and on, but you can do the research yourself.

      I might be on the wrong track… again, in this forum, it’s easier to jump to conclusions based on little info. But it’s something for you to consider looking into –to rule it out or to go deeper into seeing if there could be something to this. I found the following link to an article that I thought you may want to read through. They give a lot of good tips and insights as to what to do if you are married to someone like this: I also put “married aspergers christian” into a search engine and found several things that could help some spouses who are married to someone with this disorder. I put christian in it because a lot of the secular veiwpoints get quite negative… wanting to bail out, rather than work with marriages where one or both spouses have this disorder. Anyway… I hope this helps.

      The biggest thing is to be careful where you place your expectations. If you apply “normal” solutions to an abnormal situation you’ll end up more frustrated. But if you ask God to help you to be wise… taking your eyes off of the dysfunctionality of it all, it seems that God helps you to put your focus and hope on that, which is much healthier. The tips given in the article I refer you to would seem to help whether or not your husband has Aspergers or not. Whatever his problem is… there is a disconnect there and so you have to be more careful about where you place your hope for being content in the circumstances in which you find yourself with your husband. I hope this helps in some way.

      1. I’m on this thread because I, too, have a distant husband. I have been involved in recovery from drugs and alcohol for 31 years; met my husband when I was 2 years sober and he was 7 years sober, so I go to meetings twice a week. I try to help other women to achieve sobriety, I sponsor a number of women and so they call or text me several times a week. I’m involved in a political women’s club and I also go to church on Sunday. In other words, I’m not going to hang around the house waiting for that man to come to his senses. He stays busy, but so do I now.

        I let go of him. I had a sponsor in AA, passed on 11 years ago, but when she was alive she was a wonderful mentor to me. She had a 54 year marriage when she died and she taught me some really good techniques. One of those techniques is to back off when my husband comes into the house. When he walks through the door I greet him, but I don’t come into the room expecting a conversation. I stay busy in the kitchen or I’m working on something with my computer. After about 10-20 minutes, he comes looking for some conversation with me. “Hey, hon – how was your day?”

        The second thing that she taught me was to always have women friends to talk things over with. She said that men don’t want to talk as much as women do and they also don’t want to get into anything that deep, as we do, most of the time. She told me I should always have a posse of women that I spoke to on a regular basis in order to feel less lonely. This isn’t easy in this day and age, when people don’t want to talk to one another, is it? But by being actively involved with other women in the recovery community, I always have people I share with on an emotionally intimate level.

        I could also relate when you said your husband doesn’t take care of you when you’ve had a surgery, etc. My husband was TERRIBLE about not giving a hoot how I felt after serious, serious surgery. My opinion is that he didn’t want to get involved because he is pretty much useless as a caretaker. I’m the caretaker – he is not. However, I told him, “When I am sick – you ask me if I need an aspirin. Don’t just walk through here and ignore me. You can treat me with the care you would a stranger.” In other words, I taught him how to care for me when I’m sick, because he was not born or raised with those abilities and he had to learn them.

        I discovered that he is teachable. I was sick for 3 years and he not only took care of me, but he had to work our family business alone, put in the extra hours, go get something for dinner, come home and feed me and do things around the house. He did it for 3 years – how can I say he doesn’t love me? Because the love was built into his care for me. Not that he was mushy or expressive, but he didn’t let me starve – ha, ha! My husband is a “man’s man” and he isn’t a flowery guy.

        But…it is hard being married to someone who is distant. As much as I look towards what I should be doing to improve my self, I do feel the need to be loved by him. And I can relate to your feelings that the years have slipped by and the love you wanted hasn’t happened. I’ll pray for your marriage, Suzanne.

        1. Thanks Sherry, for sharing the things you have learned in dealing with a distant spouse… such wise, wise advice! May God bless you all the more for swimming upstream–going the extra mile in dealing with these matters in healthy ways.

  4. I just ordered your book “The Distant Partner” by Dr. Les Carter. I am believing this book will help me.

  5. What advice can you offer this wife who has gotten her own house in order, has looked her own faults in the eye, grown and continues to be loving towards her husband? What happens now that I realize he cannot let his guard down long enough to be inspired to thrive together? I am so sad.

  6. WOW! I have been trying to find this explanation for some time. My husband lets me handle all the ugly stuff and is never involved in anything that requires his input, (unless it’s self serving, like something he wants to do, see, buy, eat). I have been struggling with this marriage for 30 years–all on my own, so it seems. Anything I have ever tried to talk about is diminished and he says things like, “What are you talking about” or “I have no idea what you are talking about”. Nothing ever gets solved between us, and if and when it does, it’s up to me.

    The same theory was used when raising our children. He was fine when they were small but as soon as teenage angst started, he was out of the picture. They were my problem and even walked in the other room when debates and discussions arose. He even went as far as telling me it wasn’t his business when our 16 year old was having sex at her boyfriend’s house and I thought he should talk to his parents about monitoring them better or stepping in and talking to the boy himself. In the end, guess who contacted the parents…that’s not the role of the mother, in my opinion. In the end, our now grown children are messed up with their thinking and are extremely liberal minded…something I am not. They never had a real dad to stand by them, give them the guidance they needed, or discipline with love. The only discipline I can recall was him smacking our daughter in the face when she was chewing her food with her mouth opened! I cannot forgive him to this day for that. His thoughts were that he was finally doing something and then I yelled at him for doing it.

    So twisted….I am at a place today where I see a brick wall all around me. It’s a terrible place to be…all alone without support and also realizing I have never had it with my husband all along. He has worked hard and I give him a lot of credit for holding a decent job and not being the type to call off but he thinks that is where his responsibility ends and everything else is my problem. We now have one alcoholic daughter, (he is also an alcoholic who won’t admit it) and one with a disease who is also overweight and now pregnant by a lazy guy who refuses to work and also pay support for another child he has. I worked very hard to keep our girls on a straight path growing up but since he didn’t seem to care which way they went, they saw it as an option. They also saw mom as the meanie who tried to control them. He told me years ago he didn’t want them to not like him so he stayed out of it. Thanks, right!

    I also feel that because he stepped back so far, it forced me to be more involved than I should have been or need to be with our children. He then criticizes me for being too involved. Maybe I was, but did so to overcompensate for the fact that their father wasn’t emotionally available for them and I felt I was giving the twice the love, attention, and guidance they needed. Obviously, it backfired as I look at how they see life. Now, it’s an ugly mess..just the two of us with an empty nest that gives me too much time to realize what has happened and how his actions have actually controlled everything by not being involved. He is not a bad man but he wasn’t a good father or husband. Some people should never get married and have children. He is one of them because he’s the type who would have been much happier smoking dope, (which he no longer does because I didn’t like it), drinking as much as he wants, and doing his own thing without a ball and chain around his neck, as I am sure he sees it. I am not asking anyone to tell me whether or not I should stay in the marriage but I ask if you could pray for us. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for sharing… I will be praying for you. May God give you guidance and peace in your every day life.

  7. I don’t even remember what I googled that landed me at this article but I’m so glad it did. So awesome. Still processing but so many times I thought “do they have a camera in our home?” *wink wink*

    1. Thanks Kerri for the affirming comment. I’m so sorry that you had to come in on such a tough subject. I pray something here helped in some way.

  8. My husband walked away from me after I made a comment to him, and I haven’t seen or, heard from him in three weeks. We were separated at the time, but I had been seeing him everyday. There was no argument, just a question I ask him?

  9. Hi, This is what I’m going through. It has been occuring for past 2 years. We have been married 23 yrs. I can barely take much more. I feel as if I do not exist; when I try to talk he reverses all I say. We had a very active sex life, now no sex, or even hugs. I’m not allowed to speak about feelings. No type of physical contact. I don’t know why he comes home. I can’t help but cry. I cry every day; if he sees me, it makes him mad. This is hell.

  10. I have been married 26 years to a man who is selfish and he says he is a realist so if he hurts your feelings or says rude things, so what? People have not been nice to him so he thinks he should be mean to the world, and I’m too easy going. I had three daughters before I married him and none of them or grandchildren like him, so it puts me in the middle. If some one is nice to someone by giving them things he doesn’t think they should have, it’s because he is nice and no one ever gave him anything. I don’t understand that kind of person he is 16 years older then me and I would help anyone with out anything in return.

  11. You described my husband and me to a perfect T. I am very grateful that you took the time to write this article and to tell the emotionally eager woman, like me, to back off and pursue my own happiness. We are in counseling together, but I think from what you shared, it would be better if he saw his own counselor. He would be freer to open up. Somehow it isn’t working with us together in counseling, right now. I am just too eager and he is just too willing to let me do all the work. Hmmm… You helped a lot. Thank you.

  12. I just came across this article and I want to cry because this is exactly my marriage. Now I know there is a name to it. My husband is great as long as everything is kept happy, light, and superficial. The moment I want to connect more or have other feelings, I’m shut out. He even said recently, that he thought I was trying to manipulate him with my crying after I opened up to him and told him I was sad about a comment he made. He thinks I should just take medication to deal with my emotions or talk to someone else, and there isn’t any interest or follow up from him if I mention to him that I feel a certain way.

    Dealing with anxiety issues and post partum depression has been really tough because of this. He doesn’t understand and doesn’t make any effort to check up on me emotionally ever. There isn’t any touch or affection unless he wants sex. So I also feel used. And it’s really hard on me when I see him being responsive and communicating with other people (his mom, sister, friends) and I get none of it. At home he usually evades dealing with me by being on his phone a lot and giving attention to the kids. It’s difficult but after so many years of marriage I’m learning this is how he is but it doesn’t stop the hurt or frustration.