Relationships aren’t always easy, and marriage is a relationship that can’t escape problems either. If you’re feeling alone, misunderstood, and ignored, it might be a sign of emotional neglect in marriage.
Even if you don’t think of it as a serious problem, you definitely shouldn’t ignore neglect. It can quickly turn a healthy relationship into a toxic one, so it must be addressed.
It can be said that emotional neglect in marriage is a type of emotional abuse. Although, emotional abuse is often about manipulating someone’s feelings to control or hurt them, while emotional neglect in marriage involves denying your partner’s feelings and emotional needs.
I should emphasize that your husband might not be aware that he’s neglecting you. You should also know that people who neglect their partners have often as children been neglected by their parents.
Some families never learn how they’re supposed to show love, and their kids repeat the same patterns that they see.
If you feel like your husband is emotionally neglecting you, you should bring it to his attention. He might be willing to change and all it takes is for him to become aware of what’s bothering you.
You need to be open about your wants and needs. Let him know when his behavior hurts you, and explain how you feel.
If he is willing to be more invested in your relationship, he’ll make an effort to improve your communication and open up.
Maybe the lack of communication is exactly what the problem is in your marriage.
How does your husband react when you talk to him about something that deeply bothers you? Maybe some incident significantly impacted you and he doesn’t even listen to you when you tell him about it.
Whenever you try to share your feelings and thoughts with him, your husband acts emotionally unavailable. It’s a surefire sign of emotional neglect in marriage.
Understanding and emotional intimacy are the pillars of a healthy relationship. If it’s lacking in your marriage, you and your husband will lack the emotional connection needed to have a healthy, functioning relationship.
A Married couple is supposed to be there for each other and share each other’s life experiences. Maybe you share physical intimacy, but that alone is not enough to have a healthy relationship.
You also need a strong emotional connection, which can’t be built if there’s neglect. That lack of emotional connection is something that can cause a lot of problems in a relationship – even destroy it.
When a woman feels like she isn’t heard by her husband, she feels emotionally neglected. Once that happens, it could create a domino effect and gradually ruin the relationship.
If your husband doesn’t give enough attention to your emotional needs, emotional intimacy suffers as a consequence.
Another sign of emotional neglect is when couples create barriers between each other for no reasonable explanation.
Despite all this, many married couples simply choose to ignore the emotional neglect in their relationship. They instead become distant and even sometimes search for that emotional intimacy elsewhere, which is why infidelity is so common nowadays.
If you and your husband lack emotional intimacy, you need to take action. If you’re feeling unappreciated and taken for granted, search for the reason behind your husband’s behavior before doing anything else.
Why are you lacking the emotional connection that you need to have a healthy marriage? There are a few reasons why your husband might be neglecting you.
I will also cover the signs of neglect and ways to deal with it, but let’s first get to the bottom of it.
Why are you experiencing emotional neglect in marriage?
1. He is having a hard time at work
Your husband’s career might have become a priority to him. He might be having a hard time at work or slaving away to get that promotion.
Maybe he’s even thinking about changing his career or fears losing the one he has now.
Ultimately, his career might have taken all of his energy, so he doesn’t focus on your relationship.
2. He’s under a lot of stress
If your husband is facing stressful situations at home, work, or anywhere else, it might make him emotionally unavailable.
He withdraws to himself and doesn’t want to share his problems with you, which is typical male behavior.
Men aren’t that used to discussing feelings and problems, so he might just need some time to deal with his issues.
3. His bad past experiences are stopping him from connecting with others emotionally
Maybe you’re not aware of some trauma your husband experienced in the past. Due to that bad past experience, he might not be able to open up emotionally.
He may have been hurt in the past, or perhaps his parents emotionally neglected him.
4. He wasn’t nurtured by his family
Maybe your husband wasn’t nurtured while growing up. If so, it probably left some invisible scars on him and hurt his emotional well-being.
Our attachment styles develop while we’re still kids and we repeat the patterns we see in our family. Inevitably, this means that your husband might have emotional issues that need addressing.
5. He is unsure about the relationship
Unfortunately, sometimes emotional neglect comes from the need to end the relationship.
Your husband might be rethinking the marriage or has met someone new. Hopefully, this is not the case in your marriage and you shouldn’t panic if there are no indications of it.
5 signs of emotional neglect in marriage
To give you the emotional support you need, your husband needs to be there for you in every way.
He needs to show you physical intimacy, understanding, patience, and empathy – and, of course, show care and love through actions.
If he’s not there for you physically, cognitively, and behaviorally, it’s a big problem.
Here are the signs you are being emotionally neglected in your relationship.
1. You never fight
This first sign of emotional neglect in marriage may sound odd, but hear me out.
We all assume that a relationship without conflict is ideal, but we’re wrong. Where there’s no conflict, there’s no conflict resolution either.
Of course, constantly fighting is bad, but occasional fights are actually a good sign. They show that both of you are still invested in the relationship.
When one of the partners does something the other person doesn’t approve of, that person reacts. And sometimes, they react in anger.
It’s when you can’t even get angry at each other that indicates a problem.
If your spouse seems to be fine with whatever you do and doesn’t challenge you whatsoever, it’s a bad sign. It actually shows that your partner is emotionally absent and doesn’t cater to your needs.
2. He doesn’t like to spend time with you
The idea of spending some quality time with you doesn’t thrill him and he’d rather do something else. He even finds excuses just to get away from you and do his own thing.
You feel abandoned and alone in marriage because your husband is not around as much as you’d like. It seems as if he doesn’t even like being in the same room as you anymore and it’s a big problem.
Emotional neglect in marriage can lead to bigger issues, so this is definitely something that should be addressed.
3. You don’t have meaningful conversations
For a marriage to be successful, you have to have healthy communication.
You don’t have to share every single detail of your lives with each other, but you should certainly be interested in each other’s day.
Meaningful conversations are very important too, because too often we get caught up in the mundanity of everyday life. You should be happy to make plans for the future and discuss thoughts and ideas.
If you don’t talk about the important things but focus only on small talk, it’s a sign that something’s amiss in your relationship. Sure, you have to talk about errands, groceries, family, and finances, but it shouldn’t be all you talk about.
Set aside some time to talk as if you were just dating and trying to impress each other. Share thoughts and opinions on topics that interest you.
4. There’s no physical intimacy
If you don’t have an emotional connection, it will be difficult to have a physical one.
Of all relationships, married couples should express physical affection. When you don’t feel physical attraction toward each other and even avoid physical touch, it’s a big problem.
It actually indicates a lack of emotional connection, which is not something you want to ignore.
5. His friends are more important to him than you are
Spending some time with his buddies doesn’t count as emotional neglect in marriage. Both of you need to have your social circle and a life outside of the relationship.
But when he prefers spending time with his buddies instead of you, it’s a problem.
If his friends and colleagues are the ones he turns to when he needs support and advice, it’s a bad sign, especially if you’re mostly not even aware of the problems he’s dealing with.
The two of you are supposed to be a team and talk about things that bother you. You’re not just husband and wife, you’re partners and best friends.
6. You don’t feel like yourself around him
Dating is one thing, but in marriage, you have to take off your masks.
You should both feel comfortable enough to be yourselves around each other. Walk around in your sweatpants and brush your teeth together.
I’m mentioning something trivial like this because these are just normal things married couples should be comfortable doing together. Sometimes, you can cross the line and kill the romance, but it’s not like you can’t have it again.
Be yourselves around each other and don’t neglect each other by pretending to be someone you’re not.
You’re going to experience some situations that might seem awkward or embarrassing. That’s okay, it’s all natural – you’re not kids anymore.
7. You’re not aware of his wants and needs
Maybe you’re not even aware of your husband’s wants and needs because he keeps you in the dark. He might not even share his likes and dislikes with you.
Basically, you have no idea what he wants and how he’s feeling. He’s become so distant that you even seem like two random strangers.
This is a big issue and a major sign of emotional neglect in marriage.
8. You handle all issues on your own
Part of being a married couple is working together to solve any issues you encounter – and you will encounter them.
If your husband is emotionally uninvolved though, you will find yourself having to handle all the problems on your own, whether they’re big or small.
Single-handedly dealing with stressful situations will only lead to bigger problems down the line. You need to make decisions and work on problems together, and if that’s not the case, it’s a sure indicator of emotional neglect in marriage.
9. You feel lonely in the relationship
Even though you are married, you feel alone and lonely. Sure, you share a home and a bed with your husband, but it doesn’t feel like you have one.
Often, the root of this problem is the lack of emotional connection, which causes you to feel unfulfilled in your relationship.
Don’t forget, the two of you are supposed to be a team and have each other’s back. Try to work on things together and share much more than just the roof over your heads.
10. You’re attracted to other men
Married couples often fall into a rut. Monotony creeps in and when it gets coupled with loneliness, it leads to serious problems.
You start seeking emotional fulfillment outside of your relationship, and indulging in it leads to physical and emotional attraction toward men other than your husband.
Maybe you’re just flirting with some guys on social media, but why do you do it? Is it because you feel emotionally abandoned in your marriage?
Don’t let emotional neglect throw you into the arms of another man. Try talking to your husband about how you feel and finding a solution together.
11. He constantly criticizes you
Your husband doesn’t appreciate the things you do. Instead, he constantly criticizes you and everything you do seems to upset him.
It’s like he doesn’t even see your good qualities anymore. He doesn’t mind pointing out your flaws, though…
All this could seriously damage your self-esteem and sense of self-worth.
Maybe he even doesn’t respect you so he criticizes you in public. This is a big problem and a sign of neglect that shouldn’t be ignored.
12. Everything about you seems to annoy him
When your husband is emotionally unavailable and distant, it makes perfect sense that you’re trying to get his attention. Whenever you do, though, it just pushes him away and irritates him.
Naturally, you shouldn’t nag and complain all the time as some wives do. But if you just try to talk to him calmly about something and even the thought of talking to you annoys him, it’s a big problem and a surefire sign of emotional neglect.
13. He pushes you away and gives you the silent treatment
Your husband pushes you away even further when you try to establish emotional intimacy. He uses the silent treatment and ignores all your needs.
This type of behavior is not just neglect, it’s emotional abuse and it needs to stop.
If it hurts you when he gives you the cold shoulder, you have to speak up.
14. He doesn’t take care of himself
You always have to take care of his needs and wants, but you get nothing in return. He doesn’t take care of himself and expects you to do everything.
What about your wants and needs?
He doesn’t even bother to think about them. Maybe he’s even so emotionally withdrawn that he doesn’t even care about his appearance.
If that’s the case, there might be underlying problems in your marriage. Trauma, depression, fear, and anxiety could cause a man to withdraw and stop putting effort into things he used to.
15. You’re not a priority to him anymore
While you were in the honeymoon phase, your husband made you the center of his world. Your importance in it has steadily declined ever since.
You’re not a priority to him anymore and he treats you like an option.
If he had to choose between spending time with you and doing something else, he’ll choose anything else – no matter what it is. And he’s been acting this way for quite some time now.
Not only is he taking you for granted, but this counts as emotional neglect.
5 ways to deal with emotional neglect in marriage
Maybe you’ve seen the unexpected signs that you are an emotionally neglected woman. So, what now?
How to cope with this problem and how to survive in an unhappy marriage? Complaining to him about it all the time won’t get you anywhere, but these things might.
1. Improve your communication and work on it together
Brushing it under the rug is obviously not working for you. So talk to your man about the problem at hand and be sure to pick the right time to do it.
Try to do it calmly and with an open mind. Show him understanding and be ready to see things from his point of view.
To solve this problem, you will need to work on it together. Therefore, he needs to understand what’s bothering you and be ready to address the issue.
If you’re having trouble communicating properly, you won’t be able to fix your problems on your own. So, try to improve communication first.
2. Don’t act like a victim in front of him
If we’re being honest, we do sometimes act like a victim and guilt a man into doing something by crying or other displays of emotion. It’s not like we do it on purpose, but playing the victim is common for women and can make things worse.
When you talk to him, don’t try to make him guilty or burst into tears. If you do, he will get defensive and put his guard up.
You need him to let down his guard and open up instead… So, try to stay calm, give him a chance to speak, and truly listen to his side of the story.
Maybe there’s something that’s been bothering him about your behavior but he didn’t want to tell you. Let him be honest with you so that you can find the root of the problem and fix it once and for all.
3. Make him fall in love with you all over again
Try spending more time together and enjoying some activities that interest you both. Go to gatherings, have date nights, pizza nights, movie nights…
Bring back the romance into your relationship and fall in love all over again.
Prepare a meal together, enjoy a romantic candlelight dinner, and listen to your song. You don’t have to go overboard, but creating a romantic atmosphere is not that hard and can only help.
4. Try counseling
Sometimes, couples simply can’t solve marital problems without extra help. This is perfectly normal since neither of you can be as objective as a third party can be.
Don’t let your ego stop you from having a happy marriage. If you can’t fix things, try couples therapy.
The great thing about therapists is that they see both of your points of view in a way that you’re unable to see.
Seeking outside help actually proves that you want to fight for your marriage.
5. Have patience
If you still love each other, don’t let emotional neglect in marriage drive you away from each other.
As long as you want to fix things, you’ll find a way to do it. All it takes is a little patience and you’ll be back on track in no time.
And if you see signs your marriage is over for your man, take action. Sadly, sometimes things can’t work out, but as long as you both want to make it work, you can.