A few number of wives came for counseling because they feel frustrated and lonely to the in their marriage. For instance, Carmen (42) complained that her husband doesn’t listen to him whenever she air out her grievances and request for some behavioral changes. In addition, she related that her husband seems uninterested to spend time with her as he chooses his celfone and computer over her. She even tried crying just to get his attention, but to no avail. Similarly, Katherine (35) shared that her husband doesn’t exert an effort to improve their marriage by having special dates with her. And just like with Carmen, her husband seems to prefer the company of his officemates over her. Their husbands’ apathy toward their marriage cause them to feel emotionally insecure and unhappy in their marriages.
One question that plays in my mind is that, what caused these husbands to be emotionally distant? Is it due to a chronic unhealthy communication or to a personality brought by avoidant attachment?
If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are two ways to understand and address it.
1. Assess your communication with him.
Are you engaging in criticism or contempt? When you engage in criticism you attack and judge your husband’s personality. Your husband then will be in a fight or flight response. Either he will return the table on you, yell back at you, and sometimes he might even curse when he is provoked. Your husband might also withdraw and avoid any effort of connection from you.
When you engage in contempt you talk to him in an insulting tone, roll your eyes at him, insinuate how inadequate he is. Anybody who receives contempt can feel small and insignificant. This is why contempt has the possibility to blow a man’s ego. When your husband feel this way, there is a chance that he might shut himself down from you. He might refuse to share his plans, dreams, and individual life as he doesn’t feel emotionally safe with you.
2. Check if your husband has an avoidant attachment type?
A person with an avoidant attachment type grew up in a family where his emotional needs were not mirrored and met by his parents or guardians. One consequence would be that meeting another’s emotional needs (e.g., giving support, hugging) is a strange land for them. So whenever you ask for attention or for support when you’re stressed, he seems to have no idea on how to respond to your needs.
The problem can aggravate when you, the wife, han anxious attachment. Meaning, you depend too much on him for all your emotional needs to be met. So it can be frustrating when the more you pursue him that more he avoids. This kind of relational style can cause your marriage to be in a dysfunctional pattern. I would suggest to meet with a counselor who has a background in psychodynamics and attachment theory to help you break this pattern. You can check my list of counselors here.
It can be painful and frustrating when your husband doesn’t seem responsive to you when you try to connect. Women are relational by nature that is why this kind of problem can have a toll on them, making them emotionally insecure and anxious. With my two suggestions above try to understand if it’s caused by criticism/contempt wherein you can adjust or if it’s stemming from an avoidant attachment style wherein you need to meet with a professional to help you both address it. Know when to do it on your own and when to seek a counselor.