My Husband Doesn’t Care If I’m Lonely And This Puts Our Marriage In Jeopardy

I sometimes hear from wives who feel as if they’ve become more of an individual than a couple. They feel like their relationship with their husband has become somewhat distant and, unfortunately, this was not their choice. There can be a loss of connection and that can invoke a feeling of deep loneliness. Many of these wives have tried to discuss this problem with their husbands, only to be told that there is no problem or that their wife is making the problem bigger than it actually is. Needless to say, this lack of attention means that not only is the wife lonely, but she feels that her husband doesn’t even care.

She might say, “I thought that being primarily a wife and then staying home with my kids was going to be refreshing. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very grateful that I am able to give this gift to my family. But I am also finding it very isolating. And in the meantime, my husband pays less and less attention to me. He’s so busy at work that by the time he gets home, he is exhausted and just wants to eat, shower, and go to bed. He doesn’t realize that he’s really the only adult conversation that I get all day, so of course I will try to engage with him when he gets home. But he just doesn’t have the energy or the time for me. When I tell him that I’m lonely, he tells me to get some girlfriends and he acts as if I am being petty. Honestly, I never thought that I would be lonely in my own marriage. My husband and I used to talk endlessly and I felt closer to him than anyone else. The distance hurts, but his not seeming to care is really disturbing. Now I am starting to feel like my marriage is in jeopardy. My husband says that I don’t know how much pressure he feels at being the sole provider for our family, but I’d counter that and say that he doesn’t know how lonely it feels to be the sole caregiver. I truly do worry for my marriage.”

If you are looking for validation, I can give it to you. Any time that you feel worried about your marriage, I firmly believe that you should pay attention. I ended up separated by hoping for the best when deep down, I knew that things weren’t great.  I should have taken action much, much earlier.  It’s very important to listen to your intuition and to respect your own feelings. So I think that you are absolutely right not only to voice your concerns about this, but to be very proactive about fixing it. From my own experience and observations, one common reason for separation and divorce is that spouses don’t feel heard and understood. So feeling connected again should be a high priority.

With this said, your husband’s stance is not uncommon. Many men do feel pressure to support their family and so they naturally turn their attention and their energy toward putting in extra time and effort into their jobs. This does not mean that they do not love their wife and family. In fact, it can mean the exact opposite. Many men will tell you that this is how they show their love. They don’t necessarily see themselves as good as expressing their emotions, so in their eyes, taking financial care of their family is an expression of their commitment and love.

While this stance can be understandable, it is not enough for many wives. Unlike husbands, wives express their love through words and through touch. When they can’t get this in return, it can feel like a rebuff. So how do you fix the situation when the wife feels isolated, the husband feels pressured, and the couple is expressing their love in different ways? It can take patience, careful communication, and finesse.

I know that your husband’s suggestion of getting some girlfriends might have sounded a bit flippant to you, but honestly, it is not a bad idea. When you depend on your spouse for all of your emotional and social needs, sometimes they will fall short, especially if they have work pressures. That is why it’s a very good idea to build additional emotional and social support systems outside of your marriage. Having other moms and families to pal around with is good for your children and it is good for you. It will decrease your sense of isolation and it will mean that when your husband gets home, he won’t feel as if you are pouncing on him, since he won’t be your only source of communication.

In terms of getting more emotional support from your spouse, I often suggest giving your spouse what you want because it works in a very painless way. Most of us will try to get what we want by attempting to pressure, guilt, push, or shame our spouse. So in this case, many of us would basically tell our husband that he isn’t doing anything to quell our loneliness.  We would attempt to make him feel bad and hope that he would then try a little harder. The problem with this is that it’s hard to pull this off without our husband taking it as criticism. And as soon as he feels criticized, he pulls back, which reinforces our loneliness even more.

What works better is to give him what you want. So, when he gets home, instead of being desperate to talk about your day, ask him about his. I know that  you want him to show concern for you, but initially, show concern for him. I know that this seems crazy and backward, but it’s actually so much more effective. When he doesn’t feel criticized and instead feels you making an effort, he is MUCH more likely to listen when you ask him for something. He is MUCH more likely to feel empathy for you and for what you need.

This loneliness issue is quite common, but is fixable with a little work and finesse.  It doesn’t need to mean the end of your marriage. There are two people who are working very hard for your family. They just need to come together instead of working independently.

As I alluded to, my inattention to the issues in my own marriage lead to a separation.  I should have addressed things promptly instead of hoping for the best.  Our separation was lengthy and painful.  It would have just been easier to avoid it.   You can read more about how we made it back to one another at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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