28 January 2012 ~ 12 Comments

How to Deal With an Emotionally Distant Husband

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.

(Psalm 37:4 NIV)

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.

 

Recommended Resource:

mymh_smallMelt Your Man’s Heart (*aff link)

Learn to use confident communication to thaw out your husband’s heart and encourage him to respond to your emotional needs. Watch the free video on the sales page to learn more.

 

 

 

 

12 Responses to “How to Deal With an Emotionally Distant Husband”

  1. Peacefulwife 27 February 2012 at 3:21 am Permalink

    You are absolutely right on target!!!! I used to feel so lonely in our marriage, and then discovered that I was not doing very well with showing respect. It was a HUGE shock to me that I was not meeting my husband’s primary need. I have seen so many miracles in our marriage, and have learned not to depend on my husband for my needs, but on God. And the past few years have been the best of our 18 years of marriage! I LOVE knowing how to respect him and follow his leadership now. I love obeying God. If women had any idea how much power there is in God’s commands for women in marriage, in our admiration, praise and acceptance and building up our men, they would be storming Christian bookstores to learn everything they possibly could about being godly wives! this is POWERFUL stuff, ladies! It works! I feel more loved, cherished and adored than I could have ever imagined years ago.

    • Daniel Robertson 28 February 2012 at 2:05 am Permalink

      So often we feel that our way is better than God’s way. In modern times it goes against the grain to say that women should be respectful and submissive towards their husbands. So many people scoff at what the Bible has to say on the subject.

      The problem is, God does not provide us with guidelines just to be mean and controlling. He genuinely has our best interest in mind and instructs us for our own good. Even though our way seems better to us, He is the one who designed us. He knows how we truly work and what we really need.

  2. Ladylikeideas 22 May 2012 at 5:39 am Permalink

    Thank you, Daniel.  It is SO refreshing to finally hear a man say what needs to be said.  I feel husbands have become so trampled in the modern marriage, and your words are becoming a strength to them!  Am looking forward to continued quality posts from you!

  3. Disappointed_Wife 25 May 2012 at 7:09 am Permalink

    Your article is interesting, and what you say makes sense. However, I’ve been married for 9 years, and for the last four years our relationship has been shaky. My husband is cold, emotionally distant, and shuts down constantly. It’s been 2 years, 4 months, and 24 days since my husband and I had sex. For the first 5 years, things were great. I’m tired of trying, and I want out of this marriage.

  4. Mike 8 July 2012 at 9:53 pm Permalink

    I am a Christian man in a very troubled relationship. Ten years, two kids and she told me she wants a divorce. We got caught in the negative cycle of no respect and I withdrew, leaving her feeling I didn’t love her. I have / had a duty to overcome this as the leader of this family, but I did not. I wish I had. That said, women, speaking as a broken man before God, I can’t tell you how my heart would sing when she did do it, which was infrequent. After years of being called literally every name in the book and I mean EVERY name, I shut down emotionally and told myself that she could not possibly love me if she had such contempt for me. I lost my will to try When a man knows his wife respects him and hears it frequently, he will do ANYTHING for her. I still love my wife and pray for God to heal us.

  5. Diana Klaube 12 July 2012 at 6:27 am Permalink

    While I agree totally with finding completeness in a relationship with God, there seems to be no responsibility on my husband’s part to change anything. When I do all of the things that you said, my husband thinks things are great and that he is doing fine; therefore he perceives that there is no problem, I am happy, and don’t need anything more from him. This puts all the work on me and he still skips by being distant and seeming to enjoy every minute of it.

    • Lisa 22 February 2013 at 2:52 pm Permalink

      Amen Diana………..same here! The more I do the more he takes me for granted. He is literally spoiled to death! I have to handle all of the finances, the spiritual, raise our grandson, the house, schooling, everything…and he thinks as long as he works and brings home the $$$ that I should be happy and content with no complaints. There is more to marriage than being a good provider. We have NO physical relationship whatsoever and we have been married for 5 years. Second marriage for both-he has two kids (grown), I have two kids (grown) and we are raising my grandson (9 years old)….I am tired of fighting it

    • MHMC 8 March 2014 at 9:56 am Permalink

      This is exactly my experience. I work to become the “perfect wife”. Literally. My husband says he has NO problems with me, yet I sit there, unfulfilled, lonely, and wanting more from him. And as soon as I start to lose the motivation to keep up the duties of the “perfect wife”, he starts to withdraw. I become more hurt, more lonely, more desperate. And anytime I put forth effort to show love and respect, I get appreciation, but no change from him. It is as if it is my duty and mine alone, to hold the marriage together, and if it fails it becomes my fault. This is a huge, overwhelming burden to place on the wife. And there are days when it becomes more than I can bear.

  6. Missy L. 4 August 2012 at 9:11 pm Permalink

    I really hear where Diana is coming from.

    In my case, I am suspect of my husband’s walk. Sometimes he is a poor example to our boys in godliness. I am not a complainer, but I am often the spiritual leader. I offer it to him (please say the grace, do you mind leading devotions) and he is a bit indifferent sometimes. He is negative with the children and me. What’s to respect about that? I can tell him how much respect I have, but it’s not really being honest. I don’t nag him about showing me love, either. I go to God. I’m not stressed out by the daily grind if work, housework and kids, I don’t complain about that. I just wish he were more mature.
    One thing I am going to do is pray God shows me how to give it to Him; I don’t have any practical ideas about that. All I can think to do is pray for him, be nice to him, and go on about my business.

  7. EK 2 September 2012 at 6:41 pm Permalink

    I know it is a common problem and I am living it. It is devastating and confusing. I have a 6 month old Daughter and am a stay at home Mum. i love it but feel deflated when my Husband comes home and avoids me. He spends the whole weekend in the garden or doing maintainence. We have tried councilling, I have slept in the spare room frequently, tried to talk to him about it. He is even cold and rude to me when his family are here which is embarrassing.I do show him respect, love, kindness, do what he asks ( he expects a certain standard in then home),but he doesn’t give anything back. his Mum is cold, would that ahve much to do with it? I want to leave but I have no family or many friends here.

  8. Laura 24 January 2014 at 10:34 am Permalink

    My husband and I have struggled with emotional distance for years. I agree that God can fill your needs as God can, but he cannot fulfill the place meant to be occupied by your spouse. If that were the case, I would be single and save myself a lot of trouble! My husband would like to be respected, but when I communicate my needs and he fails to meet them I lose respect. Recently we’ve discovered that he suffers from dyslexia, which affects his ability to communicate and process information. It’s helped us a lot but we are still in a transitional phase and frankly, I’m exhausted. It seems like I spend all of my time thinking about his problems and very little time taking care of myself.

    • Daniel Robertson 24 January 2014 at 10:42 am Permalink

      Hi Laura, thanks for the comment. I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties with this. I think that as you both learn to manage his dyslexia things could definitely get better, but that could take some time.


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