You are discussing some incident which has had an impact on you, but you notice that your husband does not listen to a word you say. And this is not the first time that such a thing has happened to you. Every time you make an effort to share your thoughts and emotions with him, he appears to be emotionally unavailable. This means that emotional neglect is enveloping your married life.
Instead of having a relationship based on care, emotional intimacy and understanding, your relationship becomes devoid of emotional connection.
What is emotional neglect in a marriage?
When two people marry, they promise to be there for each other and share their life experiences. The success of the relationship is not only based on physical intimacy, but also on emotional connectivity between the two partners. It is in this grey area of emotional connectivity where most of the problems in marriage begin usually.
However, at times it might happen that a partner gives little or no attention to the emotional needs of the other partner. The partner fails to respond to the physical or emotional advances made by his/her significant other. This is basically what characterises emotional neglect in a marriage. Neglecting someone emotionally in a relationship means consistently failing to be the supporting pillar in the other person’s life.
Emotional neglect also involves creating barriers between each other without any reasonable justification.
Just because there are no visible signs of emotional neglect like physical abuse of emotional abuse, it is not even recognised as a problem. It does not involve action like other forms of abuse, but is simply a lack of action.
If your husband is emotionally unavailable, then you might feel that you are not being appreciated or that he is taking you for granted. Some of the reasons which might have prompted such emotional disconnect in your married life are:
- Career might have become a priority for your husband due to which he neglects the relationship
- He might be dealing with some stressful situation either in the workplace or at home. But he fails to share it with you
- Some previous trauma might still be haunting your husband and you might be unaware of it
- There might be a lack of emotionally balanced people in your husband’s life, which has an impact on his emotional well-being
15 Signs of emotional neglect by husband
Emotional support in a marriage means that your husband is there for you – physically (showing physical forms of intimacy), cognitively (showing empathy, patience and understanding) and behaviourally (showing love and care through action). It can be a scary and sad experience for you, if your husband does not support you on these terms. But having knowledge about these 15 signs of emotional neglect by your husband will help you deal with the neglect in the relationship in a better manner.
1. He seldom fights with you
When you both fight in the relationship, it is a positive thing because it shows you both are emotionally involved. However, if you notice that the fights between your husband and you have reduced drastically then it can be a sign of emotional neglect. It will seem as if he is okay with everything you do and does not challenge you in any way.
2. He becomes his own best friend
He does not seem to be excited and thrilled with the idea of spending time with you. So he will always find excuses to be on his own and spend his time the way he likes. Ultimately, you end up being all lonely and sulky.
3. Conversations between the two of you have no meaning
In a married life, you both are expected to share each and every detail of your life with each other. This means communication between the two of you should be continuous and meaningful. However, if you both seldom discuss important things in life, then you should take the warning.
4. Your husband fails to show physical intimacy
A husband who is emotionally disconnected with you will obviously withdraw from you physically as well. He will show no signs of physical attraction to you and avoid the advances you make to him.
5. The closest people to your husband are his colleagues or friends
Once you are married, you should be the most important and closest person to your husband. However, if you notice him turning to his friends or colleagues for any kind of support every time, then he is surely neglecting the relationship with you.
6. You are not yourself around him
You should be comfortable to be yourself around your husband. But if you are unable to express yourself freely in front of him and become a totally different person around him then this is a serious issue of emotional neglect.
7. You fail to understand his needs and wants
Since he is neglecting you in the relationship, you will remain unaware of his needs and wants. There will be no clarity as to what he wants from the relationship and from you.
8. You start depending on yourself for solving any issues
As equal partners in the relationship, you both should solve issues together. But if your husband is not emotionally involved, then obviously you will depend on yourself. You will deal with stressful situations on your own without any help from your husband.
9. You feel lonely and alone all the time
Even if you are sharing the same house and the same room with your husband, you will still feel lonely and alone. This is because your relationship with him lacks emotional connection and there is nothing but emptiness in the relationship.
10. You get attracted to other guys
This happens eventually because your husband fails to have your back and does not encourage you in life. So you turn to other guys who might be there for you both physically and emotionally.
11. Your husband becomes overly critical
Although he is emotionally not connected with you, he will keep complaining about things that you do or say. It becomes his daily routine to criticise you. He will never appreciate you and even unknowingly hurt you.
12. He gets annoyed easily
It is normal that you try to gain the attention of your husband when he seems distant and emotionally unavailable. But then if you continuously annoy him and it becomes apparent in his actions or words, then it means he is neglecting you.
13. He often gives you the silent treatment
Your husband will hide in his shell and push you away completely by giving you the silent treatment. This for sure is a clear-cut sign of emotional neglect by your husband. It can be rather painful and shocking for you.
14. He hardly takes care of himself and his appearance
If you see that your husband is not taking care of himself and his appearance, then it means he is showing signs of emotional neglect and withdrawal. The reason behind the withdrawal can be anxiety, fear, depression, trauma, etc. He might not even be aware of this situation.
15. You are no longer his priority in life
During the heyday of your married life, you might have been the centre of his universe. But now, your importance has diminished. His career, his friends, his colleagues, etc. have become more significant to him.
Emotional neglect in marriage cannot be easily understood and it might be very difficult to pinpoint the reasons which led to it. Sometimes both the partners fail to realise that their marriage is suffering from emotional neglect. At other times, the partners are aware of its existence but fail to accept it, leading to the establishment of an unhealthy relationship.
5 tips to cope with emotional neglect
Instead of complaining that “my husband is emotionally not supportive” you must try to find ways to cope with the emotional neglect shown by your husband. Here is a snippet of 5 tips to deal with the emotional neglect that will help you save your drowning relationship.
1. Work through the problems productively
Pick an appropriate time to talk to your husband about the issues that your married life is facing due to his emotional neglect. Try to approach him in a loving and understanding manner. You both have to come together and cooperate to find a lasting solution to this major problem.
2. Do not act like a victim
You will obviously be hurt and taken aback by the behaviour of your husband. But that does not mean that only your husband is at fault. There might be some issues with you as well. So do not act like a victim but take responsibility for anything wrong done by you.
3. Try to rekindle the love between the two of you
Spend time together, go out on social gatherings as a couple, plan date nights etc. and try to recreate the good times you two have spent with each other. With time, you might be able to help your husband reconnect with you.
4. Approach a therapist for help
This option is the best for you if your husband has been showing signs of emotional neglect for a long time or you both are struggling to resolve issues amongst yourselves. Skills of knowing each other and connecting with each other can be learnt from the therapist.
5. Be patient and trust the process
You love your husband and do not want to lose him. Therefore you have to be patient and trust the process. Eventually, your husband will find his way to your heart and soul again.
Happiness is what matters the most in a marriage. The sooner you realise that, the better it will be for you. So be there for your husband and he will surely be there for you as well. Eventually, you both will learn to treat each other equally and have a long married life together. Best wishes to you!