3 Ways to Overcome Emotional Distance in Your Marriage

By November 22, 2017February 20th, 2018Communication, Conflict, Self Reflection, Time

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.


  • 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:


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

      • Patrick says:


        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 . . .

    • Kate says:

      Sonia Why should you stay and waste more years ? You deserve better. l am in the same situation but have to stay, l’m in a trap right now and can’t leave because if l do l will lost my child.

  • 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:

      Please see below . . .

    • Griff says:

      Well I’m going to comment only because I’m still lost in my future with my wife. 21 days ago she walked out with my two kids and went to her moms and has completely disconnected from her husband and I have been trying to get answers for what reason I was being punished because initially I text her saying that I didn’t want to live without my family and I had two sheriffs cone over to the house because she had a mental health check on me at the local hospital against my will. They then saw that I was trying to communicate with my wife and wanted to get her and the kids to come home and she had refused to respond and I escalated my words to get her to respond and a showing of me being committed to us and the initial dr cleared me to go to the next physician and then he cleared me but before I could leave the initial dr called my wife and she wanted to go over to our house and get all our valuables out and to have it at her moms our big screen tv and computers and anything else she can get in her trip while the dr saw that I was being treated against my will and I even told that dr why is she going to let her take all our stuff cause I figured it out that was how she wanted to not face me and steal our stuff and leave again and I even told them that I was going to sue them for allowing her to do this to me. So not only was I upset because they allowed her to further harm my situation because I didn’t want it to go through and then I got home in the morning and she had wiped us out just like I told them and I have spent over half our lives together since high school and I have never done anything for that to be done to me because I was stating my love for my family and that they were my life and I was still wanting to know what is going to happen and that was 21 days ago and I have not seen or heard anything but nothing has happened and I had to move to my brothers house because I was broken emotionally because of the way that this happened and I gave her everything about me for the last 18 years I have been loving and loyal to her and I hold marriage to a higher standard than others I think because she was raised in a split home and I was also being that way we promised to be better for our kids but she is doing all this and for what reason do I deserve this so I am sad she has shut down I’m still confused on what to do.

    • Michael Ferber says:

      It’s largely because we know that women are attracted to the disconnected alpha male stereotype if we all started off being forthcoming withour emotions like we are here we would have never ended up with anyone

      • Sarah says:

        I can’t say that is entirely true. At least not for every woman. I see a lot of women who wish their husband would open up and show some kind of emotion. I am sitting here trying to just be ok while I watch my husband who is my best friend change into someone i don’t even recognize. I am scared and alone. I would kill to have what a lot of women take for granted. I miss him so much it physically hurts. I am alone a lot of the time and I have tried to just be the change I wanted to see. I am so angry and hurt and in disbelief that we can’t even say I love you. So I promise we aren’t all like that. We don’t want to be treated like we don’t exist and we have no kids so when it’s over, I won’t get to see my step kids that I have loved from ages 5 and 7 grow up and get married. I have watched them grow into teenagers now and my heart breaks at the thought of never seeing them again either. It affects us and the thought of divorce makes me shaky and want to be sick. I don’t even want to ask to go to marriage counseling because if they say that we should split up then it’s out there and I have no one. I am an orphan and never had a family. I don’t even have friends because I work for myself and can’t have therapy clients as friends. So I threw myself into work for a long time but still gave the rest of me to him. Whatever he wanted, as long as he was happy I was happy. So he is treating me like men sometimes think we want to be treated and maybe that is because someone hurt them, when they were the nice guy. So the good woman who comes by later is punished for what she did or didn’t do. It isn’t fair and I know I am nowhere near perfect, I also know I can’t be the only one trying anymore. So please don’t treat the next woman or the current woman like some Macho guy which isn’t what most of us want. Just treasure each other like I wish he could with me.

        • Mel says:

          I second you on that not all women don’t want a man to be emotionally available, I’m newly we’d just a few months and my husband isn’t the person he was before we got married and about a month after we got married, we currently live like roommates, when my husband is home he’s either on his phone or sleeping, if he’s in one room of the house and I go in that same room he exists, I cry often cause I want the man I fell in love with and married its not even a year yet since we’re married, it pains me so much, things he useto do he don’t anymore, I just want my husband back, I want this stranger to go

  • 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:


      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.

    • Griff says:

      That is not any good of a opinion because I am a man and I hate T.V. I just talked about how I was put in the hospital because she wanted to come over and steal that big screen so it was just the opposite of your comment she was valuing that T.V. over her husband she had proved that to me when I got back home to no tv if I had my way with my kids they would have not had tablets or gadgets because they were not able to make smart decision about how they were treating others but how could I tell them I couldn’t tell their mother. I am the type of person that sees the box as a distraction to cause no action in our lives because we all have a selfish desire I loved my family and I tried to enjoy the time that I had been there without a dad and now I’m sick to know she has to and still have any idea how much she has done wrong to the person that gave 18 years of our lives to have nothing but love i just hope that will shine from above now because I have been forced out and I am dead inside the world world stopped when she walked out .

  • 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)!

  • Leslie says:

    I love this information!!

  • Roger says:

    My wife of 37+ years and I are divorcing. We never connected after the first 3 years of marriage – no intimacy, no respect, no encouragement, no love, nothing. Every counseling session ended with her being more distant. To salvage a relationship, both parties need it.
    It’s sad when one of the parties doesn’t care.

  • Sam says:

    My husband and I are definitely in a season of division and it’s so draining. The Lord is sustaining us as God is my husband first, but the distance is awful. I feel really encouraged after reading this and I am praying that God will continue to grow us in unity as we continue seeking him first. But the moment one of us deviate from our relationship with the Lord the other spouse suffers and that’s where I feel we are right now. I can’t force my husbands relationship with God nor can he with me, and that just creates the battle on control. I’ve been frustrated this season, but I appreciate you taking the time to write words of encouragement that this is only a temporary emotion that will pass with time. God bless.

  • Morgan McCune says:

    Thank you for such a positive spin on relational conflict! I have been going through a very rough patch, and it seems everywhere I turn for advice I get told to leave, things are bad, it shouldn’t be this way. That just makes it harder to feel secure in the commitment that I sincerely want to keep! Your words are inspiring and a fantastic reminder of the worth in keeping your head straight and eye on the prize. Thank you!

Leave a Reply