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21 Worst Signs Your Husband is Emotionally Unavailable

There’s nothing worse than being in a relationship or a marriage but feeling more alone than ever. We try and pull closer and they just pull away. But what are the emotionally distant husband signs?

An emotionally distant husband may show some or all of the following signs:

  • Being indifferent to activities
  • Being inflexible
  • Getting defensive easily
  • Being overly critical of you
  • Giving the silent treatment
  • Being unwilling to talk about his feelings
  • Taking from the relationship more than he gives

But those are just a few of the signs.

Let’s face it. Life is a hard time, and having a partner who has your back and is in this fight with you is incredibly rewarding. But for the wife with an emotionally distant or broken husband, that’s just not reality.

So in this post, we’re diving deep into all the signs of an emotionally unavailable person in great detail.

Once you know the signs you can decide if that applies to your husband. Then we’ll walk through some crucial steps to try and fix your broken marriage.

An emotionally distant husband can make you feel so alone; even in his presence. And while it can take some marriages down, it doesn’t have to destroy an otherwise committed healthy relationship.

emotionally distant husband signs man in a blue shirt wearing a Apple watch with his head in his hands showing despair Middle Class Dad

But now let’s look at the . . . 

21 Worst Signs Your Husband is Emotionally Unavailable

1. Indifference

An emotionally distant husband may often seem indifferent or indecisive about decisions:

  • Vacation destinations
  • Conflict resolution
  • or even where to eat dinner

At the end of the day, the big problem with his indifference is the burden it puts on you to be the functioning adult in the relationship.

It also puts undue pressure as if things don’t go as planned the “fault” falls to you alone.

2. All flirt and no action

One of the big signs is when a man (or woman) is overly flirtatious.

I know that doesn’t sound right, but in my experience, emotionally distant or damaged people often try and mask the underlying pain with a bold personality.

While that doesn’t always translate into being extra flirty, it certainly can. When they are extra flirty, but it never leads to real emotional intimacy or quality time, that’s a clear sign.

3. The dreaded silent treatment

The silent treatment is a real relationship killer.

It is not, however, the same thing as just one person needing some space to cool down. The silent treatment is intentionally manipulative and designed to gain control over the other spouse.

Essentially they put themselves the driver’s seat of when or even if you get to share your feelings about the conflict.

I go into much greater detail on just how damaging the Silent Treatment (click to read on my site) is in another highly shared Pinterest post. How much it can damage your relationship will definitely surprise you.

So if that’s a warning sign you’re seeing, make sure and check out my tips on how to work past that in your relationship.

4. Unwilling to talk about damage from his past

We all have a past.

Some of us, of course, have a more damaged past than others. But even something as commonplace as a divorce when your husband was a young child can have devastating effects.

If every time you bring up something from his past he clamps down like a clamshell protecting a pearl, that’s a clear sign. So getting to the root of the issue is the big first step.

While the post is designed for the damaged, my most shared post on Twitter walks us through how to Let Go of the Past (click to read on my site) and move forward.

But it’s also great for those of us married to someone unwilling to talk about his or her past.

5. He takes more than he gives

Emotional attachment can be really uncomfortable for a man who sees vulnerability as a gateway to getting hurt. Deep emotions are scary due to something in his past.

So that trauma can create an avoidant attachment style.

One of the big downsides of that is it may often feel like you give and give and give and get nothing in return. As you give and get little in return the net effect is you’ll feel exhausted, emotionally drained, and the love you once felt for him will be replaced by apathy.

But serious relationships need at least a certain amount of real connection for the relationship to work.

6. Inflexible on his routine

The emotionally distant husband is essentially hiding from their feelings or emotions. Often (but not always) it’s because of some type of emotional trauma they experienced as a child.

One of the effects of that is that now in adulthood, they seek to control everyone and everything since whatever the underlying issue is made them feel helpless and out of control.

So if this is a red flag you’re seeing, don’t be surprised if you find him completely inflexible on what he does, where he goes, and maybe even what he thinks you should be doing.

His insecurity essentially turns him into a control freak.

7. He’s filled with excuses and defensiveness

When people are control freaks and seek to control everything and everyone around them, they often also have trouble admitting mistakes.

Thus, it’s not uncommon for emotionally distant husbands to come up with a lot of excuses instead of taking true ownership of something they did. When pressed about their actions, behavior, and mistakes, they also tend to get overly defensive.

Don’t get me wrong, no one likes apologizing when they screw up. But one of the key signs of unavailable men is when nothing is ever their fault (and often he’ll claim it’s yours).

8. No matter how much you get from him you feel empty

When we’re with a spouse that gives us little to no true emotional connection we sometimes find ourselves feeling like a man dying of thirst in the desert.

And when they do something for you, like buy you flowers, treat you to a surprise dinner, or some other gesture, it can still feel really empty.

The reason is that those types of things, while thoughtful, don’t require emotional investment. Thus, since you’re already starved for emotional connectedness, it has the effect of giving that dying man a thimble full of water and expecting it to quench his thirst.

9. He lies to you (and it doesn’t seem to bother him)

If someone is emotionally shut off from you then lying about things to you is no big deal.

It’s not that he doesn’t care for you, but the defensive wall is built up so high, it becomes easy to justify the lie and in his head, make it seem like it doesn’t matter.

A truly emotionally whole man who lies is literally torn apart out of feelings of guilt over the lie. So emotional distance almost always points to a sort of indifference towards you or his own misbehavior.

10. You have no idea what he is thinking

We all crave an emotional connection with our spouse.

After all, this person should be the one we confide in the most, with whom we share our most personal thoughts, and who we trust the most.

But for the wife of an emotionally disconnected husband, that connection just isn’t there (or barely there).

As a result, while he most likely makes small talk, you often have no idea what he’s really feeling inside or what the details are of the things he’s doing or working on.

11. He is overly critical of you

We’ve already covered defensiveness, an unwillingness to take ownership of his actions, lying, being a control freak, and often they all lead to him verbally abusing you.

At best, while perhaps verbal abuse is too strong of a word, unavailable men can become overly critical of you.

The reasons for this are it gets him out of the hot seat. You’ll be so busy defending yourself you won’t have time (he hopes) to shine the spotlight on him.

12. You feel like you’re going it alone

We’ve already talked about how he can make you feel like a person dying of thirst in the desert.

When this is a long-term pattern of behavior, the end result is it often leaves you feeling completely alone in the marriage, desperate for that emotional connection.

Life can be challenging and one of the chief benefits of being married is having someone who has your back and who can be your shelter in the storm.

It also means having someone you can count on to pick you up when you’re down.

Without that support, it’s like being single (but with someone else in the room). At best, you’ll get financial support, but still be craving that emotional support.

13. He withdraws when you try to draw closer

When we feel like we’re all alone in the marriage, it naturally makes us want to pull closer.

After all, we aren’t getting our needs met. Going back to that man dying of thirst analogy I used above, the man will obviously be drawn towards the nearest source of water (in this case your husband).

The downside is, of course, an unavailable person isn’t likely going to be able to fulfill your needs.

In fact, most likely, he’ll withdraw the closer you try and get and it will end up like a game of cat and mouse; a lot of movement but neither of you feeling much satisfaction in the relationship.

14. He ghosts you

Some men are emotionally unavailable but still communicative.

But he’s seriously unavailable if he’s also putting physical distance between you both. So if he’s gone from home more than he used to be, takes forever to respond to texts, and just seems to be perpetually busy (on everything except you), that’s a big sign.

But it could also mean he’s having an affair if this is a change in behavior.

15. He claims “real” men aren’t emotional

In truth, we guys feel A LOT.

But real masculinity has never been about hiding our emotions or pretending we don’t have them. No, real masculinity is simply about feeling what we feel but not letting our feelings control our actions.

In other words, we don’t throw temper tantrums when we don’t get our way.

16. He uses drugs and/or alcohol as coping mechanisms

When you are emotionally unavailable, you still feel everything very intensely.

You just don’t want or know how to communicate that to your spouse, family, or friends. So instead, they bury those feelings down deep.

But intense feelings have a way of bubbling up when we least expect it.

So to combat those feelings from bursting through, an emotionally unavailable husband may turn to substance abuse as a way to not feel the pain of those buried emotions.

17. They call you emotionally unavailable

I don’t care who it is. The best defense is a good offense, and what better way to throw people off your scent than to accuse them of exactly what you’re doing.

18. A lack of respect for your time

My mom once had a boyfriend named Rick.

And for a young boy, Rick was a fun father figure. But with my mom, he was constantly late for dates, or on many occasions just wouldn’t show up at all.

Now, this was in the pre-cell phone days. But he still could have found a payphone and called to cancel or reschedule.

Instead, he just blew her off, time and time again. He showed a complete lack of respect for her and her time. There was no regard for the time she spent getting ready. Time spent waiting, or the possibility she had canceled plans with others to spend time with him.

No surprise, but he was indeed very emotionally unavailable.

19. Does he blame his exes for the breakups of his previous relationships?

A husband may blame his exes for their breakups and not take any ownership himself because he is emotionally unavailable. He may be unable to open up and share his feelings, or he may be unwilling to do so.

This lack of emotional availability can lead to a lack of trust and communication in the relationship, which can cause it to break down.

Additionally, this emotional unavailability can prevent him from taking responsibility for his actions.

He may be unable or unwilling to recognize how his behavior has contributed to the breakup, instead choosing to blame his exes for the failure of the relationship. This inability or unwillingness to take ownership of his actions can lead him into a cycle of blaming others for his own mistakes, rather than taking responsibility for them.

Ultimately, this lack of emotional availability and inability to take ownership can prevent him from maintaining healthy relationships in the future.

20. He calls you needy and clingy

The husband who is emotionally unavailable may call his wife needy, clingy, or desperate in an attempt to push her away.

He may do this because he is afraid of getting too close and being hurt. He may feel overwhelmed by the intensity of his wife’s emotions and need for connection. He may also be trying to protect himself from feeling vulnerable and exposed.

The husband’s words can be hurtful and damaging to the relationship. His wife may feel rejected, unloved, and misunderstood. She may become more clingy in an effort to get her husband to open up emotionally, but this can backfire as it reinforces his belief that she is needy or desperate for attention.

It is important for the husband to recognize that his wife’s need for emotional connection is normal and healthy.

He should try to understand why she needs it and how it makes her feel when he shuts down emotionally. If he can learn to be more open with her, they can both benefit from a stronger connection between them.

21. He gaslights you

A husband who is emotionally unavailable may use gaslighting to put his wife‘s focus on herself and defending herself, so she will be less likely to focus on his lack of emotional intimacy.

He may do this by making her feel like she is overreacting or being too sensitive when she brings up the issue of his lack of emotional availability.

He may also make her feel like she is wrong for wanting more from him, or that it‘s her fault that he isn‘t emotionally available. He might also try to make her feel guilty for wanting more from him, or make her feel like she is asking too much.

He might even try to convince her that it‘s not a big deal and that she should just accept things as they are. All of these tactics are designed to shift the focus away from his lack of emotional intimacy and onto her own feelings and reactions.

Ultimately, this type of behavior can be damaging to a relationship as it prevents both partners from being able to communicate openly and honestly about their needs and feelings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is emotional distancing from a husband temporary or permanent?

Emotionally unavailable people often behave this way permanently unless their emotional distancing was triggered by an event such as a wife’s infidelity. But if they seek professional help, it can be made temporary.

But before we dive deeper, it’s worth asking whether his behavior is new or if he’s always been this way?

Unavailable people can get this way following some sort of traumatic event like:

  • An affair
  • The death of a close friend or loved one
  • Something that makes him feel like a failure (such as a job loss)
  • Unresolved trauma from past relationships

In those cases (especially if you had an affair), he retreats into his shell because it feels safe to him.

He’ll stay in his shell, avoiding talking about his feelings or being vulnerable, at least until he’s had time to process his feelings and deal with them.

If, however, your husband has always been emotionally unavailable, that’s a different story.

If he’s always been that way, the good news is it has nothing to do with you and is either rooted in some childhood trauma, or it may just be how he was raised and who he is.

That doesn’t make it easier to live with necessarily, but if you can come to terms with it, you may find peace with it.

If you’ve ever asked “Can Marriage Counseling Help, you won’t want to miss one of my most shared posts that really goes into detail about exactly how and if it can help you and your marriage.

Nothing gets better or even stays the same without nurturing and effort, and some type of relationship work is crucial even for healthy marriages.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What causes an emotionally unavailable man?

The reason a man may be emotionally unavailable is typically tied to childhood trauma or how he observed his father interact with his mother. A boy raised to be the “strong silent type” and discouraged to be vulnerable and share his feelings may be emotionally unavailable as an adult.

But husbands can also become emotionally distant due to an event triggering a withdrawal, such as a wife’s affair.

We men aren’t always encouraged at a young age to show emotion or be vulnerable. We often feel like we’re supposed to just get a grip, bite our lip, and keep going without showing any signs of weakness (paraphrasing Miranda Lambert intentionally).

Ultimately, wives need to accept is that only their husbands can decide to change their behavior and allow themselves to be more emotionally connected with you.

While it’s always ok to tell him how his behavior makes you feel, make sure, and focus on your feelings and not your expectations of him.

When men feel like a failure it can have devastating and often opposite effects on them. While it might feel good at the moment to vent, it isn’t likely going to help improve the emotional intimacy.

No; it will likely make them worse. Also, remember that his being an emotionally distant partner has nothing to do with his love for you.

So don’t take it personally.

He may love you deeply but just be shut off from his ability to express it.

One of my best blog posts goes into the repeat negative behavior (click to read on my site) many of us engage in despite knowing better. More importantly, that article looks at how it CAN be overcome with awareness, time, and focus.

The terrible role childhood trauma can play for emotionally unavailable men

For some of us guys, the roots of being emotionally unavailable can go a little deeper.

In my case, while I wouldn’t describe myself as emotionally unavailable (I tear up a little watching The Notebook), I used to sabotage relationships before they could get to the next level.

I did that because at a young age almost everyone of importance left me.

This left me feeling scared of being rejected or being abandoned. Thus, I had a tendency to end things first so I was at least in control of it.

My mom and Dad divorced when I was about 6 months old and by the time I was 2, she was remarried and we were living 1000+ miles away from my dad.

I did see my birth father, but not often and it was decades before we became close. He too was exploring who he was as a closeted gay man coming to terms with being a gay father (click to read our story on my site), and so he was focused more on himself than being a dad.

My mom and step-father then divorced when I was approaching 11 due to his increasing alcoholism and physical abuse. He passed away just a few years later.

Despite his alcoholism, I still loved him very much and he was the man I called Dad until I was well in my 30’s. Still, Growing Up with an Alcoholic Father (click to read on my site) was tough as well.

If his emotional distance is the aftermath of an affair

Life isn’t always perfect and neither are we.

Sometimes when a spouse cheats on the other, it can have devastating effects on both. After all, even if he cheated, only the most heartless sociopaths don’t feel regret or remorse.

So if these distant partner signs are new and one of you had an affair, that’s obviously the issue here and what needs to be focused on in order to move past this.

The good news is that despite the devastating effect cheating has on a relationship, it doesn’t have to mean the end.

Your marriage CAN recover from an affair. In fact, you will likely find that once you go through the crucial steps to Save Your Marriage After Infidelity (click to read on my site).

I outline the crucial steps that must be taken after an affair, in my most pinned Pinterest post. An affair doesn’t have to mean the end, and with the right work, your marriage can be better than ever.

It will take time, but with patience, 100% ownership, and accountability, almost any marriage challenge can be overcome.

But there’s a LOT more to be said about how to Rekindle a Marriage (click to read on my site)!

So if you’re in that boat, I highly recommend you take a moment and review some of the crucial steps I outline in one of my most shared Pinterest posts.

What do you do when your husband is emotionally distant?

Here are the key steps to take if your husband is emotionally distant:

  • Recognizing if you played a role in his creating distance
  • If you did, own it, verbally acknowledge it, and ask what you can do to fix it
  • Don’t place expectations on him
  • Appreciate him for exactly how he is (and tell him what you appreciate)
  • Understand his love language may be very different from yours
  • Communicate what you need from the relationship (but not in a demanding way or a way that makes him feel like a failure)
  • Suggest couples’ counseling if it seems like the situation can’t resolve on its own 

But really, we can’t change anyone but ourselves.

In a nutshell, when we have expectations of someone else, we’re setting ourselves up for frustration. We’re also setting them up to be resentful.

That doesn’t mean you have to just accept an unavailable husband. Emotional availability can improve over time with the right support and communication.

But you should strive to get to a place where you:

  • Communicate how his actions make you feel
  • Avoid being critical or sarcastic about him or his actions (but do focus on the impact you feel)
  • Don’t make assumptions or read into his behavior – give him and his behavior the benefit of the doubt until you have actual evidence of something

I see this all the time in my friends’ long-term relationships and in some of the marriage groups I am part of.

Often wives (but some husbands too) have very set expectations for their husbands and then explode when he doesn’t meet those.

Now if we’re talking about things like expectations that he won’t drive drunk or do drugs, that’s one thing.

But in many cases, we are drawn to our spouse because of certain personality traits and then, once married, have this false expectation that they should now change that behavior.

That expectation will set most marriages up to fail (or at least be miserable).

How do you connect with an emotionally unavailable man?

Instead of trying to “fix” an emotionally distant husband, focus on doing things to connect with him like:

  1. Have sex on a regular basis
  2. Don’t have expectations on how you think he should behave
  3. Accept him exactly as he is
  4. Have set times each week where you connect and just hang out (not on phones or watching TV)
  5. Share your feelings without blame or expectation of a specific response
  6. Have regular date nights

We already covered not having expectations of him.

So if you go into working on your marriage without placing expectations on him (which feels like pressure and stress to him), just focus on having fun, communicating, and getting back to the basics of your relationship.

Let’s look at a few of those things in greater detail:

1. Have sex

It can sometimes be hard to want to have sex with little to no emotional connection, but this is crucial for building (or restoring) a long-term emotional connection.

And an intimate relationship is a huge part of a healthy marriage.

Sex is an important part of a marriage, and as I detail in a much-read article, it can be hard for a Marriage to Last Without Intimacy (click to read on my site).

2. Have set times each week where you connect

Put the phones down.

If you have kids, put them to bed (or if they’re old enough just let them hang out and watch TV in another room). Just talk. Maybe enjoy a cup of coffee together Sunday mornings or a glass of wine together on a Saturday night.

Connect about your week and how things are going. It may be small talk at first, but it’s about building (or rebuilding) connection and it will grow.

3. Share your feelings without blame

When we are angry or frustrated, it’s natural for us to want to vent.

In the aftermath of something like an affair that’s OK for a while, but we want and need to get to a place where we share our feelings without blame. Focus on how it makes you feel and not on criticizing him.

4. Schedule regular date nights

Date nights are great! Date nights probably built the original connection that drew you together in the first place.

Thus we need to get those back into our schedule and routine. Have a new baby in the house or too broke to go out? I’m familiar with both of those things.

The place, time, and cost of a “date night” is irrelevant.

Make time to do something fun (even with a baby in tow) where you just enjoy one another’s company. Even if that’s putting the baby in a stroller and going for a walk.

How do attachment styles affect emotional availability?

Attachment styles are formed in early childhood and can have a lasting effect on our emotional availability in adult relationships. The avoidant attachment style is one of the most common, and it is characterized by a fear of intimacy and difficulty forming close relationships.

An avoidant attachment style is basically what we’re talking about when we say emotionally unavailable.

This attachment style is often formed when a child’s needs are not met in their early years, leading them to develop an unconscious belief that they cannot rely on others for emotional support.

As adults, those with an avoidant attachment style may find it difficult to open up to their partner or express their feelings. They may also be overly independent and prefer to keep their distance from others.

In adult relationships, those with an avoidant attachment style may struggle to form meaningful connections with their partner. They may be reluctant to share their thoughts and feelings, or they may withdraw from the relationship altogether when faced with conflict or emotional intimacy.

This can lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection for both partners.

For wives dealing with a husband who has an avoidant attachment style, it is important to be patient and understanding. It can be helpful to create a safe space where your husband feels comfortable expressing his emotions without fear of judgment or criticism.

Encourage him to talk about his feelings and listen without judgment or trying to fix the problem. It is also important for you both to take time for yourselves so that you can both maintain your own sense of identity within the relationship.

Finally, it is important for wives dealing with husbands who have an avoidant attachment style to remember that this behavior was likely formed in childhood as a way of coping with difficult emotions or situations.

With patience, understanding, and compassion, it is possible for couples with this type of attachment style to build strong connections and foster emotional availability within their relationship.

Final thoughts

In today’s post, we took an in-depth look into what they used to call the “strong silent type” of man.

We talked about why a man might be emotionally unavailable and what to do about it. But specifically, we looked at some concrete signs of unavailable partners; some obvious and some not so obvious.

Once you know the signs of emotional detachment, then you can explore solutions and get your emotional needs met.

Jeff Campbell

Janis Goshorn

Friday 29th of January 2021

I have been married for 35 years to an emotionally distance husband. It doesn’t help that for the last 14 years he has either worked out of state or out of the country. I’m emotionally exhausted. I can’t do this anymore. He doesn’t call, text or FB me. I miss him and he doesn’t miss me or his 4 children and 6 grandchildren. I can’t go on like this I want a husband that is home w me that will be there for me emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally and financially. Otherwise he can stay where he is. I’m done. I have forgiven and forgiven , but when is enough enough. I’m hurting, again. Janis

Jeff Campbell

Saturday 30th of January 2021

Hi Janis

Sorry to hear that. I assume you've tried talking to him about how his actions make you feel? I also hope you have tried marriage counseling. Obviously, nothing is sure-fire, but I feel like therapy (ideally he would go on his own and with you) could definitely help. And even if he's tried it or refuses to go, it could also help you to just go alone to help work through all the years or strife and emotional trauma.

I never want to suggest divorce as a first option, but if you feel like you've tried everything there is to do, I think it's just fine to follow your heart and do what you think is right even if that means washing your hands of him and the marriage.


Wednesday 27th of January 2021

My husband is 81. We've been together for 28 years. I feel like I can't take it anymore as all the ways we coped with his emotional distance before--working long hours apart from each other, taking luxury vacations, buying stuff, eating out--have been curtailed or ended by infirmity, covid and lack of money. It doesn't help that we both had childhood trauma--he was in WWII and I was molested and emotionally abused in my family. It really feels horrible to be taking more and more care of him and getting less and less back.

Jeff Campbell

Friday 29th of January 2021

Hi Lucy

I'm sorry you're going through that. I know he's 81, but if you've never seen a marriage counselor or if neither of you has talked to a therapist separately, it's never too late. And you can easily do online therapy too if that's better from a Covid standpoint.

But if that's not an option financially, if he's still mentally able, I would just tell him how his actions make you feel. Focus on that, ask questions, rather than making statements that could make him defensive or sound accusatory. You may well be fed up, but the goal of the conversation should be to get him to share his feelings, and he'll be much more likely to do that if he's not feeling attacked.

I hope that helps.



Tuesday 26th of January 2021

Jeff, My husband has frequently been cold and emotionally distant throughout our 30 year marriage. He is very reserved and introspective in general so I used to just try to ride out the worst periods assuming that deep down underneath his cold demeanor there was a foundation of love and respect in our marriage. He did experience a childhood trauma when his brother died after being very sick for many years which I always thought accounted for some of his emotional distance. About seven years ago the coldness increased markedly despite my efforts to connect. I found myself doing anything “to earn his love” from handling absolutely everything at home , fixing his favorite foods- even reading the same books that he was reading so that we could discuss them. He was never openly hostile but he withheld affirmation even when I openly asked for it. Finally, after several years of this increased emotional distance and coldness he ended up in a mental hospital with suicidal ideation and severe depression. I’m sure you can guess what is coming next but i discovered that he had been having an affair with a coworker for the last three years. At the time he told me that his guilt over the affair had caused his depression but he later let slip that the main reason for his crisis was that his mistress had ended the affair and also that he was fearful that he would lose his job if the affair was discovered. He insisted he wanted to stay in the marriage and threatened suicide each time I discussed ending the marriage. Despite insisting he wanted to stay in the marriage, he basically admitted that he had resented me for many years and blamed me for everything that had gone wrong in his life- even things that had nothing to do with me. I know that I have not been a perfect wife but I have been aware of his disapproval and contempt for many years and have been trying my hardest to please him. During his mental breakdown both before and after my discovery of the affair, I consciously tried to be as supportive and loving as possible thinking that it could be a turning point in our relationship. Currently, there are periods when my husband is kind and warm but they are infrequent enough that I notice that as something different There are also periods when he purposely cold shoulders me. He has had extensive individual therapy and we have had extensive marriage counseling. The marriage counselor essentially tells me not to take his behavior personally and to believe him when he says saving the marriage is important to him. I do not want to be divorced and despite all of the above, I love my husband. But I am tired- tired of constantly hustling for someone’s love and walking on eggshells. I also am not sure that my husband wants to be in this relationship; I think he has a fear of abandonment that causes him to panic when he thinks that I might end it which is not the same thing. My question to you is what damage is done to the person on the receiving end of a cold and distant spouse. I have great relationships with my family and many wonderful friends (my husband has no friends) so am emotionally fulfilled in those relationships but can’t help but think that I am diminishing my own mental health by enduring the ups and downs of my marriage.

Jeff Campbell

Friday 29th of January 2021

Hi Beth

Sorry, you're going through all that. It sounds like he's doing all the right things, but it also sounds like you're fed up. I'm also concerned that he used the threat of suicide as emotional blackmail on you; that's emotional abuse and just not acceptable even if he meant it.

If I were in your shoes, I would ask myself the following questions:

Since therapy, has he improved? If yes, is he still continuing to improve, and is he still doing therapy? If he's plateaued and not continuing to improve, why? Does he acknowledge and really own all the damage he's done or does he make excuses? At the current rate of his improvement, does it seem like he will reach a level of connectedness I can find acceptable within the next 2 years?

If you answered no to the last 3 questions, I would probably make the choice to end the marriage if I were facing that. But if/once I make that choice, I am following through no matter what my spouse says or does. But I'm not telling you what to do. I'm simply stating what I would do if I were in that situation. You should discuss with a therapist before making any decisions like that.

And if you aren't doing therapy by yourself, I would highly recommend that, even if it's in addition to marriage counseling.

Ultimately you both deserve to be happy but you can't make anyone but yourself happy and while I admire him for taking the steps to work through his challenges, you deserve to be happy now, and you've already given him a lot of your years. But to truly be happy with him, you'll have to learn to let go of your expectations of him, and just love and accept him for who he is.

I hope that helps and I hope you find what's missing in your marriage.



Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

I feel that my husband is giving me the silent treatment. Since he has been working from home due to the pandemic, he has no drive or motivation. I am a nurse and work my butt off every day and have 2 kids from my previous marriage. I come home exhausted. We just got married in May, bought a house, and now it just feels like he is so much more distant. He has started drinking more, uncontrollably, Staying up at night and sleeping during the day. He has changed jobs twice because he is bored and he does nothing all day long, not even helping with housework, groceries or meals. I am so tired from doing all of the housework and working a full time job. We used to have great times together and great conversation but most nights we just sit in front of the tv because he is so hard to talk to. I asked him if he could get groceries and he just doesn’t respond. Tonight we had a huge “non fight” because he just keeps walking away and won’t even talk to me about it. I feel like screaming. We have been talking about counseling for months but I feel like he won’t do it with me. How can I engage with him when he tries to disengage?

Jeff Campbell

Saturday 26th of December 2020

Hi Ann

Sorry to hear all of that. Honestly, given how short a time you've been married, I'm not sure I would put up with him, or expend much energy trying to get him to get his act together. He sounds selfish, lazy, childish, and apparently sees nothing wrong with taking advantage of you.

The crazy part is that he didn't appear this way prior to your getting married.

I'm not a big fan of ultimatums, but in this case, especially since you have 2 kids involved, I would probably tell him that unless he's willing to go to marriage counseling to talk about your issues you're going to file for divorce.

If it were just 1 thing (not being able to hold a job, not helping enough around the house, drinking too much, not being a good communicator) it would be worth a lot of effort on your part to try and fix the marriage. But from what you've said, there's so much wrong with him, I just wouldn't have much patience left.

If he refuses to go to marriage counseling, I would insist he move out (he can't keep the house if he can't keep a job), and then I would divorce him. You and your kids deserve better. And while I wouldn't usually mention divorce so early into a discussion, he just frankly sounds like a terrible guy who doesn't deserve you.

If you're set, however, on getting him to converse, then I would start by just asking questions and avoid making statements. He may feel embarrassed (I hope so), or judged, and that may be making him shut down. If you do make statements, use the strategy of talking about how his actions make you feel (when you xxx, I feel xxx, because xxx).

Hope that helps and sorry you're going through this.

Jeff Newman

Tuesday 8th of December 2020

Funny how the first "sign" pointed out in here is an affair, most men become emotionally distant because they are tired of their wives BS, this article shows 0 accountability on women when it comes to unhappy husbands.

Stop trying to convince men that marriages can be saved after an affair, no one that respects themselves would be willing to go on with the relationship after their spouse cheated on them.

Such a feminist, simp article. Wouldn't be surprised that my comment never gets approved if the author disagrees with it.

Jeff Campbell

Tuesday 8th of December 2020

Well I guess you haven't quite mastered the whole concept of "how to win friends and influence people". I don't mind opinions that differ from mine, but an intelligent counterpoint doesn't require hostility, name-calling, etc.

Marriages CAN be saved after an affair because I had one 7 years ago, and my wife and I have a better marriage today than ever. And you contradict yourself in saying that "no one that respects themselves would be willing to go on with the relationship after their spouse cheated on them." but also saying that unhappy men are unhappy because of their wives.

Maybe, just maybe, women (or men) who stay after their spouse has an affair recognize the role they may have played in it, and feel like the good in the relationship is worth fighting for.

And for whatever it's worth, I'm not very feminist leading, and as I've said in dozens of my relationship articles, it takes 2 to make or break a relationship.

But in all seriousness, you should take a moment to consider how your actions and words affect others. You don't have to be a jerk to get your point across.