3 Ways to Overcome Emotional Distance in Your Marriage

Lately, you feel like you just can’t connect with your spouse. Maybe he’s not listening to you, or maybe she’s lost interest in activities you used to enjoy together. You might fight a lot—or avoid communicating to minimize conflict. Perhaps you feel like the kids have monopolized your or your spouse’s time to the point that you aren’t getting quality time together anymore.

Whatever the case, lately, you’re feeling more and more disappointed in your relationship with your spouse. You’re lonely and discontent, and you’re wondering whether the two of you might be happier apart, rather than staying married and slogging through each day with things the way they are.

It’s upsetting and downright discouraging to go through seasons in your marriage where you and your spouse feel more like roommates than soulmates. The reality is that it’s totally normal to experience times in your life that feel this way, and there are a lot of possible reasons for it: a new baby, having small children at home, work-related stress, demanding or unusual schedules, health issues, caring for an aging parent, unresolved conflict, and more.

The good news is that you can absolutely overcome seasons of emotional disconnect in your marriage…and come out on the other side feeling closer than ever. The trick is getting over the hump, making it through the challenging days, and staying committed to each other. Today, we’ll show you three ways to overcome seasons of emotional distance in your marriage.

1. Realize every marriage has peaks and valleys

Even though the feeling of distance you’re experiencing with your spouse is incredibly disconcerting, rest assured it’s very common for couples to go through times in their marriage when they just don’t feel close. While that doesn’t make the experience any easier, it gives you the perspective you need to weather the storm until it passes.

We often make the mistake of thinking that how our marriage feels today is how it’s always going to feel. The truth is, love is always evolving; even if you feel some distance today, the dynamic between you could change for the better very quickly. It’s worth it to hold on, stick to the commitment you’ve made to one another, and work on getting your relationship back on track.

2. Tune in to how your spouse best connects

Sometimes when we’re feeling disconnected, it’s easy to get wrapped up in how we want our spouse to connect to us. What we tend to forget is that how we want to connect might not be something our spouse will respond to. You and your partner might simply speak different love languages, and it will be up to you to tune into their language and communicate in it in order to reignite that spark.

For example, women generally want to have deep, meaningful conversations in order to connect to their husbands. But in our experience, men tend to be less likely to respond well to their wives’ need for that conversation, especially during a season of disconnect. If you’re a wife who’s feeling lonely and wants to be closer to her husband, it may help for you to focus on joining your husband in shared activities. Men tend to respond well and feel more connected to their wives through shared activities, so go somewhere he enjoys going or participate in an activity that’s important to him, and you’ll be more likely to get connected with him again on a much deeper level.

Husbands, if you’re feeling disconnected from your wives, open yourselves up for genuine conversation. Your wife will be more receptive and responsive to you if you’re intentionally connecting with her in this way. Even if it’s way outside your comfort zone, offering this gift to your wife will go a long way toward restoring the intimacy you’ve been missing.

3. Get out of your head and take action

When we’re going through a “roommate season” where we feel disconnected from one another, we sometimes get lost in our own circular thought patterns about what we’re facing. But when we ruminate, we become immobilized. We get stuck in our own expectations of what we think closeness and emotional intimacy should look like, and that can blind us from what we really need to be doing in order to reconnect.

Take one step at a time, one day at a time. Even a small positive change in your marriage can make a tremendous difference in how you feel about your relationship. Hang on tight, keep meeting each other where you are, and you can come out on the other side of this as a stronger, happier couple.

Have you experienced periods of emotional distance in your marriage? How did you overcome them? What did you learn from those times? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

16 Comments

  • Dave says:

    My wife and I have experience many of these seasons during our 36+years of marriage. Your action points have definitely been difference makers for us in those times. To add to your first point, it really helped not only knowing it is normal but that is was just that “A Season” and that it does not stay that way. Too often we take what is happening in the moment and use it as a filter and determine this is what our relationship is going to look like FOREVER! But when we really think about it that is simply not realistic…to think that all the good we have had can vanish into thin air.

    We totally know what these times are like but I would suggest to keep a positive mindset of knowing that “love” is not as fleeting as we think. To make a decision that our spouse truly has a good heart towards us even when we have done things that have hurt one another. This can be very difficult to do because it always seems so huge and colors everything we think in the moment. Making this the first filter used in these seasons has helped us to make it through to the other side…:)

    • Paul says:

      Hi Dave, it’s cool to see a guy respond to this blog. I’m guessing your more emotional than your wife? No offense 🙂 I believe that’s why you’ve been married for 36+ years, praise God. If us guys don’t meet our wives on a emotional level, they will dry up and become mondaine for the kids and staying married. You made great points, especially whats happening now tends to paint a picture of a future. Many days I get down, but it never fails when I tell myself it will be better tomorrow, it always is. I believe that has a lot to do with perspective. Stay focus on our relationship with Christ and things always get better, even during the season. God bless brother and congratulations.

      • Rus says:

        Hey Paul,
        Just because a guy is replying to a blog, that doesn’t imply any emotions. I’m definitely not emotional. My wife frequently accuses me of having zero emotions, which isn’t true – I just good at hiding the few I do have! But anyway, not sure you tell anything about Dave and his wife’s level of emotions based on his words or mere act of replying to a blog on marriage. 🙂

  • sonia says:

    Last year in finally confronted the hubby on an affair, with proof. He finally fessed up. I offered him the option, them or me… not both. No questions asked if he didn’t choose me (frankly after 28 years of a crappy and lonely marriage, I wanted out). However, if he chose me it was new or nothing and he had a year to convince me with reasons to stay (our kids are grown and out with lives of their own-what’s keeping me here?). He begged me to stay. Its been a year… and i’m still here.

    after we read the 5 love languages, he told me that he wanted more quality time. WTH. He never would take me anywhere, plan anything etc… everything we did do was because we were gifted the expense or I managed to save and plan it. I supported everything he was involved in, I was even score keeper for his softball team for 5 years. however, his supporting me and my activities was “ok, if you want to do that, go ahead. I’m not interested”.

    during a conversation last year, he said that I don’t sit with him on the sofa and chill with him after work. he referenced his #1 love language (quality time). .. my response was… quality time is when both partners take time to focus on one another… not sit and watch tv every nite watching the same reruns over and over. plus I always sat with him and did that for YEARS and I am tired of it. how about my love language?

    I get it, his fulltime job is physical and he wants to just veg after work.
    my fulltime job is bookkeeping… business administration of our family business… and I watch our infant grandson at the same time. I rather not go home to veg… but I do, for him… but come the weekend, I want out, and frankly he isn’t interested… so I go without him.

    why should I stay?

    • Matt says:

      Sonia,

      One reason to stay..Marriage is a big deal to God.

      • Patrick says:

        Matt,

        I don’t think it’s that simple. I have stayed in a marriage of 41 years of which the last seventeen have been very unhappy. She used her affair as an attempt to punish me for not treating her as she wanted. We have been through multiple counselors, and many hours on a daily basis talking at length. She has gotten more dependent on smoking pot to escape from this reality. I think marriage may be important to God, but I believe God wants us to not make the commitment of marriage our god.

    • Rus says:

      Hey Sonia,
      Wow! That’s a lot to digest. Forgiveness for adultery, but still not happy.
      You didn’t mention your love languages. Is your husband spending any effort trying to meet your needs?
      As a guy, I can see “quality time” being satisfied with vegging in front of the TV. I really like being able to pause live TV to focus on my wife. Somehow, she has great timing for conversation at the worst time of the program! I think being able to stop the program and focus on my wife has helped our relationship. We, too, have read books to help our marriage. A lot of great ideas, but it is tough to change habits and actually put the ideas in to action. We have talked about getting counselling, but we are currently in “good” season. I pray that you would consider a Christian counselor that believes in the sanctity of marriage before giving up on your husband. Maybe a few small changes over time can make all the difference!
      And just a side note, divorce affects more than just you and him. You will still have to see him at family events. Expect finances to be even tighter than they are now. I think many people that are divorced aren’t any happier than when they were married.
      Hope that helps…

    • Dale says:

      Please see below . . .

  • Judy says:

    I am shocked and amazed that this many guys are even interested in expressing their thoughts about marriage!!! My husband would never do that. I don’t know if it is emotional or just wonderful, but after 37 years of marriage, I still wish he would be interested in at least discussing it.

  • Dale says:

    A couple of thoughts from a guy that’s been married to the same Girl for just a fuzz over 50 years –
    Judy – men are usually too lazy to look at stuff on marriage because we might find something that will make us think and change, and we’d rather just waste our brain cells on time with the idiot-box we call TV. And we have lots of words but we’re usually unwilling to think stuff through and put it on external speaker . . . for a myriad of reasons. Thoughtful fishing for thoughts from him might help . . . my guess is that you try . . . keep up the good work and keep reading good stuff!
    Rus, Paul & Dave – I think I’ve found that men are as emotional – feel as deeply as – women, but are usually not as willing to put it on external speaker, for that myriad of reasons. What I think I’ve also found is that when men do talk about their feelings that they are usually more discerning about what they feel than what women will talk so freely about. and,
    Sonja – you are brave to put it out there, and it’s complicated, and not easy, and please find some good professional help in navigating this painful stuff. It’s not all on you, and you simply do not have to put up with the dismissal of what is rightfully yours, and it’s not an easy fix. However, if you find the right help, either way this marriage falls, you at least will have done the right things. God’s wisdom and best to you!

    • Anita says:

      Dale,

      THANK YOU for your kind words of wisdom!!! So many of us (women) really need to hear from men on what they think and feel. And for the other guys, I too am impressed at your thoughtfulness and response to this blog article. it gives me so much hope for finding my future husband.

  • Ysa says:

    Truly grateful to God for this very timely and relevant advice. I finally felt that my struggles in feeling disconnected with my husband were understood and that there is hope if I just choose to trust God and stick it out. My husband is a good man and I love him so much but we have differences that we can’t seem to patch just yet. Praying that the Lord will continue to give each of us the grace to keep our commitment and not give up on working things out.

  • Rick says:

    I reiterated that all men can’t be put into the same bag. I get bored with the idiot box and truly desire face to face with my wife. She is the complete opposite. She will veg out on T.V. and prefers to be on the phone a lot. I sometimes want to cast the telephone demon out of my house in Jesus Name! I have read many books on marriage over our 25 years and I have been unable to get her to read one. Which brings me to this comment or question???? Is it possible that along the way we start to ignore what is right in front of us? Meaning we stop giving our marriage the check ups it needs and ignore the obvious? Do we wait until crisis to react. As a male I am for getting on thing immediately rather than just assuming. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, it probably is a duck! Deal with the elephant in the room, even if in small pieces. Sometimes its difficult and most of the time I truly need God’s help. It is worth it in the end. My wife and I my never be totally agreeable to doing the same things and that is ok. I finally found out how to get her to look at items on marriage. I texted her tidbits on marriage or sent her items on email. (SMILE)!

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