Jun 202011
 

Here are several ways to overcome emotional disconnection in marriage. If you feel alone all the time – and yet you’re married – you need to figure out how to reconnect.

Here’s what G.B. says on Is My Marriage Over? 7 Signs Your Spouse is Ending the Relationship: “We’ve been married for 28 years and I feel like a stranger to my husband. I share my thoughts, worries, etc and he listens but never responds. It’s like I am forgotten, not important, not worth his attention. How do I fix it when I feel so alone? I have no friends to talk to. My children are adults and have their own issues. I am tired. I can’t fake it any longer. I am trying to find a way out.”

emotional disconnection in marriageOne of the first things to do is figure out if your husband is actually hearing you. Why Can’t You Read My Mind? Overcoming the 9 Toxic Thought Patterns That Get in the Way of a Loving Relationship is written by Jeffrey Bernstein, a psychologist specializing in couples and family therapy and Susan Magee, who wrote The Power of Positive Confrontation. They offer couples a way to renew the spark in their relationships. They claim that one of the most significant steps is to focus on yourself rather than your partner by ridding yourself of toxic thoughts, “negative thoughts that have lost their basis in reality and have gotten out of control.”

When You Feel Alone in Your Marriage – Emotional Disconnection

Last week, I went to a live marriage counseling session (a marriage counselor counseled a couple in front of a group of married couples). The couple has been married for six years; she’s the “pursuer” who wants more emotional connection in their marriage. He’s the “pursuee” who thinks things are fine the way they are. She feels alone in their marriage; he’d be happy with their relationship if nothing changed. Turns out, this is a very common interaction or “marriage dance” between married couples. How do you stop the dance? You could leave your marriage or try different ways to overcome your feelings of emotional disconnection in your marriage.

Get an objective perspective. The couple who participated in the live marriage counseling session didn’t even realize they were doing this common marriage dance, of pursuing and being pursued! They just thought they had different opinions about their relationship. Indeed they do.

To stop feeling alone in your marriage, you first need to make sure you understand what’s happening. Why do you feel so disconnected? What do you want your spouse to do? What can you do to improve your marriage? Since you can’t change your spouse…what do you need to change about yourself? Another option is to learn How to Go on a Marriage Retreat Without Leaving Home.

Find out if your spouse is on board. You can’t overcome emotional disconnection alone, my friend. If your spouse isn’t willing or able to meet your needs, then you need to either accept him the way he is or end the relationship. How do you figure out if your spouse wants to participate in your marriage? Ask him to go to marriage counseling, a relationship retreat weekend, or even just read a book about emotional connection. You’ll know right away if he’s willing to invest the time and energy needed to build a healthy marriage.

Figure out what your marriage expectations are. The live marriage counseling session taught me that neither spouse is “right” or “wrong” in how they view or live out marriage. They just have different expectations of what marriage is all about. If you feel alone in your marriage, you need to figure out what exactly what you expect, and where your expectations come from. For instance, G.B. knows her husband listens to her, but he doesn’t respond. What sort of response does she want? Why does she need a response? If she can clarify her own needs, she’ll be more likely to communicate them to her husband. And if she’s clear and concise, he’s more likely to listen to her – and perhaps connect with her emotionally.

Stop pursuing your spouse (a surprising way to cope with emotional disconnection in marriage). The marriage counselor told the wife who wanted more emotional connection to stop pursuing her husband. This is incredibly difficult to do, especially for a woman who wants to build a strong, healthy marriage! But, that’s the key to ending the pursuer-pursuee marriage dance. Stop chasing, stop asking, and stop focusing on how alone you feel in your marriage.

The marriage counselor said he’d need about 10 sessions with the couple, to help them create more emotional intimacy. If you’re a pursuer who feels alone in your marriage, you may not be able to stop pursuing and reconnect without the guidance of someone who is experienced in this.

Take care of your emotional and social needs.

emotional disconnection marriage

“Emotional Disconnection in Marriage – How to Feel Less Alone” image by Laurie

If you crave emotional connection, you need to create relationships outside of your marriage — whether or not your spouse is willing to build a better marriage with you. You need to make friends by doing volunteer work, joining book clubs or hiking groups, joining a church or spiritual organization, or taking continuing education classes. Challenge yourself by pursuing a different career or going back to school.

The happier and more fulfilled you are, the more attractive you’ll be to your spouse…and the less you’ll have to pursue him. It’s all about building a strong personal identity, which is crucial to being in a healthy love relationship.

If you feel emotionally disconnected in your marriage, do you think the solution is to stop pursuing your spouse? Comments welcome below…


Fix Your Marriage

You might also enjoy reading How to Reconnect With Your Spouse.

laurie pawlik kienlenI'm Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen (but I wish my name was Rosie Frost!). I'm a bookworm, travel bug, flute player, writer. My husband and I live in Vancouver, Canada with our cat and dogs.

Are you happy? My Grade 10 Social Studies teacher, Mr Merritt, always used to ask me that. And I am happy - despite a difficult childhood (schizophrenic mother, no father, foster homes), infertility, an eating disorder, and a chronic illness. The source of my peace and joy is God; I'm a Christian.

How is your life unfolding - what do you need? I welcome your big and little comments below, about big or little things. I can't give you advice, but writing can give you clarity and insight.

In peace and passion.... Laurie

  31 Responses to “Emotional Disconnection in Marriage – How to Feel Less Alone”

  1. Dear Beckie,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing about your marriage. It sounds like you’re really struggling to be happy in your marriage, and your husband isn’t willing or able to meet you halfway.

    And, it sounds like he has a lot of power in your relationship! You said he’s destroyed every friendship you’ve developed, which leaves you with nobody to connect with.

    I wrote this article with you in mind – I wanted to share ideas on building a life outside a marriage, especially for women who feel alone and emotionally disconnected:

    http://theadventurouswriter.com/quipstipsrelationships/how-to-build-a-life-outside-your-relationship/

    Of course, one blog post can’t heal your marriage! I encourage you to find someone to talk to, someone objective, who can help you see where you begin and where your husband ends. You have every right to expect some things from him – his job IS to fulfill some emotional, social, and physical needs. But, how much can you expect? Are you expecting too much from him?

    I don’t know the answers to those questions, but it might help you to talk them through with a counselor, pastor, or even a life coach.

    I hope you read the article that you inspired me to write :-) and that you let me know how you’re doing. I can’t offer counseling or advice, but I can listen! And it often helps to write our feelings, because it can bring clarity and insight. A relief of a burden, sometimes.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  2. My husband and I have been married for 10 years. We have three amazing daughters, 8, 5, and 1.
    Since my pregnancy with our second daughter, I’ve been warning him that there were issues. He works jobs that allow him great freedom with his boss, but require long hours and offer scanty pay for the amount of hours. And when I ask him to make more time for us, he says he’s working so much for us (not true. He works so much bc he doesn’t want a boss hovering over him and so he chooses this line of work) and because he works so much for us, when he’s off of work he wants time with friends.
    He feels like I’m smothering him and holding him hostage at home. I feel like he’s neglecting me and no longer wants to spend time with me, maybe even no longer loves me.
    I’ve been trying to save us for years, I stopped pursuing years ago, I don’t nag, I have sex with him whenever he wants, even when it makes me feel dirty afterwards bc it was lust without connection. I’ve tried being kind and understanding to his mother, who openly wishes for both of her sons to divorce their wives and move back home with her. I’ve tried making every change within myself that he’s pointed out as not liking about me. I thought if I became everything he thought he wanted in a wife, eventually he would recognize that and be more available to me, emotionally and with his time.
    During my third pregnancy i spent more time planning how my children and i were going to survive when i peft him after the baby was born and our lease was up. Then when she was born, I nearly died from complications. When he was sure that I was going to live, he made m all of these extravagant promises. I would forever more be first in his life. He would always make time everyday to spend alone with me. He would call me while he was at work. Never again would he let his mother interfer in our marriage.
    He broke all of those promises within 48 hours. But I’ve used it to give me hope for over a year.
    6 months ago he finally woke up and realized that we have issues that need fixing. Except he thinks the issue is me being too clingy and not being tolerant enough of his friends and family.
    I don’t have friends. I’m an introvert and don’t need many to begin with, but he has systematically destroyed every friendship I have developed over the last 10 years. And he gets angry with me for not having friends to fill the emotional needs I expect him to fill.
    I don’t know what to do.
    Is it really all of my fault? Am I really that blind that I can’t see that? Or am I just too blind to see that the man I thought I was marrying 10 years ago was a fantasy?
    I don’t know what to do, and I am so exhausted and utterly filled with resentment. But I’m still in love with him. It’s not that I can’t imagine my life without him, it’s just that I don’t want to. It breaks my heart. But what can I do when he won’t chip in and help fix things?
    Thank you so much for your articles, I’ve been reading them all morning. Hopefully something here will help my marriage. But knowing that I’m not alone in my situation, even if I feel alone in my marriage, is very reassuring. It’s not just me, this can happen to anyone.
    Thank you ladies! And thank you Laurie!

  3. Brien, have you and your wife tried marriage counseling? Mort Fertel’s 7 Secrets to a Happy Marriage is a good start, if she or you don’t want to see a counselor in person.

    When was the last time you took your wife out for dinner, just the two of you, and talked about your love for each other? Do you ever have a “date night”?

  4. Amy….are you happy?

    • Happy !!!! Whats that, no I haven’t been happy for all these years. The only thing I can be happy about that one day it will end.

  5. Hello Amanda,

    Thank you for your wonderful offer! How lovely is that, to donate spa services to pamper women who don’t feel connected in their relationships. This is wonderful.

    I’ll go visit your Facebook page :-)

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  6. I feel as a husband my wife is pushing me away over having bad arguments and disagreements. She always mention to me to work on myself more to overcome certain issues. I always work to be honest on all levels and she always stonewall me at certain times. She has more energy for her family and friends. I always feel she don’t give me the same energy level. As the husband my concerns of needs and wants suppose to be top priority. Please advise me of this current status. Frustrated husband wants out if things don’t change.

  7. My husband disconnected me the day after our wedding night. He is more distant and cold and doesn’t care about me. This has been going on for over 40 years. I have no idea why we are still in the same house! He lives his life in the basement and I upstairs, we never communicate, let alone see each other. He has worked the midnight shift for the last 40 or more years, that way he doesn’t sleep with me. He’s never taken me any where, I know he has vacation, lots of it but he just goes to work any way, never home on holidays. I think he might retire soon, but I’m sure that won’t make any difference, it might be worse. I just go along and do my own things, like I’ve never been married.

  8. Hi Laurie
    I’m not even entirely sure how I came across this blog online but I’m so glad I did. I am a mother of 2 toddlers 2&3 with my fair share of difficult times in my marriage. I also lean in towards God. Growing up in a Christian home is a huge blessing. I live in Coquitlam BC and recently opened a beautiful spa in my home. I would love to bless woman from your site from time to time by donating free services to some of these struggling woman. I believe sometimes us women really need a healing touch. Not that I’m a healer lol but when we are emotionally neglected it can be such a huge relief to have someone pour into you for a change. Just to have a few moments of peace can be a breath of fresh air. Please feel free to connect with me via email and check us out in Facebook @ Time Out Spa Lounge. We are currently renovating for child care so mothers can bring their young children with them to be cared for while enjoying that much needed “Me Time” we all deserve.
    Your advice has been very inspirational. Bless your heart!

  9. Hi Susan,

    How is the group therapy going? Are you finding that it’s helping you connect to your husband?

  10. Laurie
    We are going together for group therapy. My husband went once by himself, and I have gone twice. Our therapist hopes to find the “connection” that will bring us back together. My husband is worried that if we work hard to over come this crossroads in our marriage, may revert bad to bad habits and little to no communication. I have a hard time with conflict and shut down. He does not pursue me to resolve these issues, so now we have 20 years of small and probably big issues that need to be resolved. I want to reconnect and stay with him. He has been unfaithful to our marriage. I maybe foolish, but I believe in our wedding vow. And this is the better or worse part. We need to find common interests. He showed little interest in things I like and then I intern did the same. I like to cook, and read, quilt and often times just being with my husband was enough. I feel like I have become the delusional wife thinking that everything will be good or better than before. I am scared and I don’t know what to do. I

  11. Dear Susan,

    What does your therapist tell you to do, in terms of reconnecting with your husband? I’m also curious about what you want to see happen in your marriage. You say your husband needs space, so he can figure out what he wants.

    What do you want?

  12. We have been married for 20 years. I know that we both were unhappy. I thought once my husband returned to work, and I was home more, not working so much, things would get better. Nope! He tells me that he has been lonely for a long time and has been involved with a “friend” someone I also know and so do our children. I feel betrayed, but we are in counseling.I want this to work. He says he needs time to think. So now I am left in limbo, waiting for him to make up his mind about OUR future. He complains that we don’t do anything together, I suggest things he will sometimes do them, or he will say he is going or doing something and I invite myself and he says he needs to be alone. Now what? I know that I am trying, maybe too hard. He says that we have grown apart, the therapist calls it a disconnect. Is there anyway that we can reconnect. There must have been something 20+ years ago that connected us. I don’t know what to do. I love him, we both are imperfect. I pray daily for help. I am not a religious person, but I do go to church and pray and right now that’s all I have. My bestfriend, my husband, is confused and so am I. I don’t know what to do.

  13. Thank you for being here, and for sharing how it feels to be alone in your marriage! I think we all go through phases of feeling lonely in our relationships – it’s part of being human.

    But if you feel lonely more often than you feel connected, then you and your partner might want to find ways to overcome the emotional disconnection. Life – and marriage – is better when you’re connected!

  14. Hi,
    Im 28years old with 3 sons between the ages of 8 & (5 Twin). Me and my partner have been together for 10 years we had our first son at age 19, hes now 41. He no longer commmunicate with me and its driving me crazy. I have to sugess everything besides work and fridends thats it yet still he thinks that its ok for him to get sex when he wants it. I dont care how much lies he continues to tell me I no that hes cheating. I’ve received letters/ text messges from his girlfriends and he denies them all. I really dont want to hurt our children, I love their dad but I cant take it any more im a emotional reck and for him right now communication is not an option. Everyones thinks were just this perfect little family.

  15. Hi Laurie,

    I have been married to my second husband for five years now. Eight months ago I gave birth to my second daughter but his first child. To make the story short, my husband didn’t want children and after a few struggles we both agreed on trying to conceived. He loves my daughter and treats her as his own, he is madly in love with his own daughter as well. We recenlty found out that we are having another baby. I get horrible morning sickness and I am not always pleasant to be around. Besides being a mom I work full time and I am taking five classes pursuing my Masters. My husband and I are so disconnected from eachother. He makes me feel like I bother him. If I ask for something for example, Tyleno for a headache because I have gestational diabetes and I get horrible migranes if my sugar gets low he complains that there is always something wrong with me. He tells me that I am too emotinal. I get so angry because he does not understand how I feel being pregnant and exhausted. My 8 month old is almost walking and is very active. I am extremly tired but don’t get enough rest between work, kids and going to school 3 times a week. I am 5 months pregnant and still suffer from severe morning sickness. I am a fire craker and I am not good at keeping my emotions inside. He is intraverted and loves to be alone. I am trying to give him space but I feel that if I don’t fight we will drift away. I have been divorced before and I plan to do whatever I can to make this marriage work. It’s hard when it seems like I am the only fighting. I feel better venting.

    Thank you,

    GABY

  16. Hi, I have been married for over twenty years and blessed with two brilliant kids. My husband is a business man who started very very small and I have supported him at work, and emotionally in his long bad times. My very demanding In laws stayed with us for years but I did my best to take care of them, the numerous relatives, kids and husband all this time. I gave up my career to make sure no body is neglected. During this time, my husband has become a very successful man and a public figure. About 7 yrs ago I found out that my husband was cheating on me with another woman who has been married and divorced twice before. She is older than me and known to be extremely aggressive. Over these years she has used my husband to succeed in her business. Meanwhile my husband left the house 3 times for long periods of time 6 months. 1 year and then 3 months. But he did come back each time. During this time the paramour tricked my husband in marrying her in a religious ceremony outside theU.S. and adopted a child. I have cried, fought patiently waited, done every possible thing on earth to convince him to stop what he is doing. Every time I tell him that I want out of this marriage, he promises and swears to end the relationship only to break every deadline that he & i have agreed on. He keeps telling me that he is emotionally out of the relationship but the other woman won’t let go. Every time he buys her something, he buys me same thing or something similar. When he is home with the kids and me, he seems extremely happy and involved, but definitely visits all exotic resorts with her. He has moved her outside US and spends equal amount of time with her and here at home with us. While this all has been going on, I found out that he has another relationship going on with a very powerful woman in an official position for the past 10 years and is also engaged to her. Also I suspect that he has a relationship with a prostitute. I have always been a woman of principles and and take my marriage vows seriously and expect the same from my husband. Inspite of having lots of patience, I have come to a point that I just cannot take it anymore. I gone into deep depression and in a very disturbed state of mind. I wake up in the middle of the night with hot flashes and find myself crying in sleep, nightmares etc. I don’t trust my husband anymore. My kids know about all this but they don’t want me to get a divorce at least until they go off to college. Also I am unable to disconnect inspite of all this emotional torture and pain inflicted on me by my husband. I don’t know what to do. I wish there was a pill I could take that would help me forget the existence of my husband. Please help.

  17. I think all spouses feel emotionally disconnected at some point in their marriages. You can’t be totally connected all the time – it’s not natural. Sometimes we need to pull away for different reasons: to grow, to mourn, to think, to flourish.

    Emotional disconnection is a problem in marriage when you feel alone more often than not. If you rarely or never feel connected to your spouse, then it’s a serious issue.

  18. I tried all the tips in the marraige books including leaving him alone. I don’t sleep in the bedroom and give him his “space”. All he does is yell at us. I feel so alone. I also have no friends.

  19. I really like the book ScreamFree Marriage, because it discusses how to find emotional connection outside your marriage. We’re not supposed to need our spouses to make us feel emotionally whole.

  20. I don’t know ? I have been Married to my husband almost 15 years and found out in November (2011) that he had been having an “Emotional Affair” with another woman, she was his vice presidents daughter I had met her several times at Christmas parties. Anyway I have felt a disconnect with my husband for awhile and have never been able to figure out what the issue was or is? When I confronted him because she sent him a text message that I answered because he was out of the car, he said it wasn’t what I thought she was just a friend ect. My husband offered to go to counseling in which we have gone one time, I had even ordered Mort Fertels program before I found out about the affair because we were having problems with connecting, “I wonder why”. Anyway he just quit Our Mort Fertel Program which was not an option as far as I was concerned, and it was helping alot. My thought is that you can’t be an opisitional spouse and want better but not seek better. I finally told my husband that he was not taking accountablility or trying on our marige and that I want out, “Finally” NOW he wants counseling? I think that you have to have a spouse who loves and cares about you enough that he or she will do anything to save your mariage if they truly want things to work. I am a Christian I understand being patient and hanging in ,but for how long when your spouse is selfish? I some point you have to quit sacrificing your happiness hoping someone else will change for the better of the marriage. I have had to change some things for him as well because I love him but you can’t always be the one putting in effort with no reciprocation back.

  21. This is SO true. I went through about a year of trying to make things better in our marriage and my husband only seemed to be really confused by it. It didn’t help a thing. Marriages cannot be one-sided, it’s not the way to go. FOCUS ON YOURSELF~only way to feel better. The marriage may or may not follow but atleast you will have a better you!

  22. This sounds all too familiar about the pursuing dance and trying to get closer when it just seems to push them away more. I will be starting some therapy soon as we are currently living apart and will look into this. I know it doesn’t help but like you said it is soo hard to stop bothering them about it and focusing on myself again beacuse all I want is a good healthy happy marraige!!
    Thanks, Glad I found your articles :)

  23. Thanks for your comments. I agree that a relationship with God can help when you feel alone in your marriage. That spiritual and emotional healthiness can help with those awful feelings of disconnection, especially if your spouse is also connected to his higher source of power.

    Do women feel more emotionally disconnected than men? I don’t know – I think it depends on the individuals. But I do think that men don’t need as deep of an emotional disconnection as women do.

  24. Thank you very much for sharing this one.One thing I want to add,relationship to God is also important to stay strong.I’ve been
    married for 12 years,we put God the center of our married life that’s why
    we stay strong in every problem that comes..

  25. Dear AK and helpmeplz,

    Thank you for sharing your marriages here. I’m sorry you’re struggling with your husbands, and that you feel so alone. Living with emotional disconnection is very lonely and isolating.

    I wrote this article for both of you, because it seems like you have so much in common! Both of you are struggling with lack of physical intimacy in your marriages, and you don’t know what you want.

    You’re Not Happy Married, But Don’t Know If Divorce Is the Answer

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts. Writing how you feel is the best way to gain clarity and insight, so feel free to share here. Or, get a journal and try to write every morning. Just write your thoughts and feelings – whether they’re meaningful or not. Often just the act of writing can help you figure out what you want!

    Keep in touch – let me know how things are going.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

    • I cant beleive there are women out there like me, so lonely and so so sad. Every one thinks we have such a happy marriage but the lonelyness is so hard i sometimes just hug myself to sleep at night. I do have faith and i pray alot but i think this is just the cross i was born to bare. Not sure. comforting that i am

  26. Hi,
    I have been married for almost 6 years now and we have 2 beautiful children. We have been through a lot in our marraige and yet here we are. He has a daughter who is 17 froma previous marraige who hates my guts who I am not to fond of either. We have lost all intimacy in the past 2 years, the last time we had sex like 4 months ago- it felt more like a tranaction than a moment to share passion. I am a law student and also a stay at home mom currently looking for work to help out here at home with the bad economy. He wants me to quit school and not work and he also doesn’t like ANY of my friends or relatives. I have no social life what-so-ever and have lost my sense of self… I feel very alone and like he is trying to trap me. He hangs out with his friends secretively or comes home drunk or wreaking of alcohol, he breaks every promise he makes to our kids and me, and puts EVERYTHING as a priority except spending time with us. I thought it was just me, like he resents me for something, but even when I offer to leave him alone with the kids, he refuses. He is 13 years older than me and is always making me feel stupid or saying things just to get under my skin or insult me. He never wants to spend time with me or our kids and his excuse is that he is always tired or busy. I feel like I might as well be a single mom. I don’t think he is cheating but I can’t figure out why he is being this way. I’m tired, and it hurts that he doesn’t want to be with our kids – I don’t want to give up any more of myself and I shouldnt have to. I want to stay together for our kids and because I think I still love him, I don’t know anymore. I am very lonely, and this makes me scared to leave him because I don’t know if I can do this by myself and I don’t want to quit school because I’m SOO CLOSE! I also don’t want to take away the only fahter figure my kids have just because I am feeling lonely – I don’t want to punish them for my feelings…. help

  27. My husband and I have been married for almost six years, together for eight.we’ve been through alot over the past year and were almost divorced, he then changed his mind and wanted to stay. It was all a sudden suprise to me when it happened and since then it has been a struggle. He loved me and doesnt want to leave me but he wants to be with other women and can’t decide. I cant emotionally trust him any more.. our sexlife doesnt exist. I cant take the going back and forth about what he wants its crushing me. what should I do.

  28. Dear Uppal,

    Thanks for your comment. Funnily enough, a reader recently said that her husband wants her to be dependent on him. He resents her university degree, and is threatened by the thought of her becoming independent. She feels terribly alone in her marriage, and emotionally disconnected.

    I guess not all men like independent wives.

  29. I think all men like wives who are independent and look after things themselves.Emotional support’d be forthcoming if the wife’s disturbed state affects him personally in day to day functioning.When the children leave the nest emotional support becomes mutual.In all stages of life the success of every woman is herself.

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