Do you have an emotionally distant husband? Does he often “check out” on you or refuse to talk to you? Or maybe he just doesn’t know how to connect emotionally? This is a common problem that many women face in their marriages. It might seem as if your husband doesn’t care about you or that he isn’t interested in you. Sometimes, you may feel like your suffocating under the emotional neglect. Some women even go so far as to say it feels as if their husbands hate them because of this problem.
What can you do if you find yourself in this kind of situation? Is he really uninterested, or is it that he just doesn’t know how to relate in an emotional way? If so, how can you help him to come out of his protective shell without pushing him away? If I may, I would like to offer a man’s perspective on this important issue.
The Problem – Why Husbands Are Emotionally Distant
There are many reasons why husbands can be emotionally distant. We men often find it very difficult to open up emotionally to our wives. In most cases it has nothing to do with whether we are interested in our wives or not. In fact, we want nothing more than to be the best husbands we can be. And that’s exactly where the problem lies. We’re afraid to fail.
It is a scary thing for a man to expose himself emotionally. What if he looks foolish? What if he looks weak? What if he looks like he doesn’t have it all together? What if his wife judges him, or worse, openly criticizes him?
This is scary stuff for a man. Seriously.
Not to mention that most of us just haven’t had much practice in this area. Most men have very few close relationships with other people that we can share this type of stuff with. We internalize our thoughts and emotions and mostly try to find logical ways of dealing with things. Sharing our dreams, desires, fears and conflicts is unnecessary, maybe even counterproductive.
To make the problem worse, men are wired differently than women are. You’ve probably heard that women are multitaskers and men aren’t. Not only do men find it hard to do more than one or two things at a time, but we also find it difficult to hold onto more than a few thoughts in our heads.
If you’re a woman, you probably have about 100 things going on in your head at one time. You’re worried about your kids, you’re thinking about your friend who is having relationship problems, you have a running to do list going, and you have several other hopes, dreams, fears, and concerns all bouncing around in there at the same time.
As a man, I’m usually only thinking about one thing at a time. Usually, if it’s the task I’m currently engaged in. If I’m doing something that doesn’t require much attention then I can think about something else at the same time too. This is why my wife can ask me what I’m thinking about and I can often say “nothing” with complete honesty.
There are plenty of other reasons why I might be emotionally distant from my wife as well. Maybe I’m tired and have had a long day. Maybe I’m irritated because she said something I didn’t like, so I withdraw. Maybe I’m irritated with something that has nothing to do with her. Maybe I’m worried about work or bills or something else. None of these things mean I don’t like my wife or am not interested in her.
The Solution – What To Do When Your Emotional Needs Aren’t Being Met
So here you are left with this gaping need for love, affection, and intimacy on an emotional level. Your husband isn’t meeting this need, either because he’s ill-equipped or he’s in a bad season in his life. How do you, as a women, get your emotional needs fulfilled?
The first thing you should do is stop looking to your husband to meet all of your needs. That isn’t his job. That’s not the purpose of marriage.
Only God can satisfy your deepest needs and desires. It is only when you look to God first that you can have your needs satisfied. Don’t believe me? Look at scripture:
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
When you look to Him first and foremost as the ultimate fulfiller of your desires you will be satisfied. If you try to get your emotional needs met by your husband, your kids, other relationships, or some romance novel you will find that it just doesn’t work.
That being said, having emotional distance between you and your husband is not part of God’s design for marriage. So how do you help him open up his heart to you?
Have you ever tried to tell your husband how much you need him to open up to you? If so, this is the wrong move. You’re actually pushing him further away by doing this. Why? Let me illustrate.
Your husband thrives on respect. It is the primary thing he needs from you. You need to feel loved, cherished, desired and attractive. Your husband, on the other hand, needs to feel important, accomplished, capable and needed.
If you tell him “I feel like you don’t love me,” you are communicating a need to him. He doesn’t see it that way, though. He feels as if you are calling him a failure. He’s not a good enough husband. And he withdraws even further into his protective shell. He shuts down and shuts up.
So what can you do to fix this situation? You need love. You thrive with it and you wilt without it. The solution?
Give him respect.
Do your best to make him feel like he is the best husband and father in the world without putting the pressure on him to perform. You will find that with some time, he will begin to open up more and more to you. He will start sharing on his own, without needing to be poked and prodded and, dare I say it, nagged.
“But it’s not fair,” you may be thinking, “why should I have to be the one to do all the work? Shouldn’t he put in the effort to meet my needs?”
Yes, he should. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to worry about it. He’d give you all of the love you need and you would give him all the respect he needs. But this isn’t a perfect world. We live in a fallen world, and both you and your husband are fallen, fallible people.
If you want more love from your husband, give him respect. You can complain about it or you can do it with a cheerful heart and see the results for yourself.