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.
One 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.”
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.”
When You Feel Alone in Your Marriage
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
This is 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
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…I can’t offer advice or relationship counseling, but it may help you to write about your experience with emotional disconnection in marriage.
Read How to Get Help for Your Marriage for more tips on connecting with your husband.
May you be blessed with a renewed sense of connection to your partner, and remember that being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you decided to look beyond the imperfections.