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How to Live with an Emotionally Distant Husband

5 Power Moves to Restore the Connection

Who wants to live with an emotionally distant husband?

I think it’s safe to say nobody!

If your husband neglects you emotionally and sexually, the wall between you can feel insurmountable and so discouraging. A sure sign of emotional detachment in marriage is that you’re lonely, and when that goes on for a while it turns to hopelessness.

It feels so lonely that it’s easy to wonder what the point is. Would you be better off living alone when you feel so alone anyway? Would that make it stop hurting so bad?

If you’re wondering when to leave an emotionally unavailable husband, that means you’ve been asking yourself for a long time: how do I connect with an emotionally absent spouse and how can I fix this emotional detachment in our marriage?

I’m happy to report there is a proven, practical way.

Here are 5 secrets to help you take down the wall for good so you can feel cherished, desired and adored.

1. Tell Him How You Feel

Tell Your Husband How You Feel

Braunwyn was looking at her phone, stretched out in her nice new king-size bed. But she suddenly felt lonely seeing her husband all the way on the other side, glued to his book.

She sweetly said, “Honey, I really miss you. You’re way over there and I’m over her.”

It was as if those words had magic powers. No complaint, criticism or control came across, only vulnerability.

He said “Aww,” took her hand and scooted over.

Ever since, he has made an effort to get closer in bed, reach out to her and hold her hand.

If you’re missing your husband’s time, attention or affection, why not try saying “I miss you”?

There is one caveat: as magical as the phrase “I miss you” is, it’s less so unless you’ve considered this next power move first.

2. Check Your Side of the Street

Apologize to your Husband

Temporary distance might mean that your husband is going through stress at work, worried about something or is just really into his reading.

But if the distance becomes ongoing, that’s usually a red flag that there’s something getting in the way of the connection you want.

Fortunately, it’s an obstacle you have the power to remove.

Betsy knew she had this power when a controversial topic came up about the family during a walk with her husband. It was something they both felt strongly about, so naturally she responded with her perspective. Emphatically! Then he rebutted even more emphatically, and they went back and forth, locking horns.

The connection evaporated by the minute until each retreated into their own corner.

I’ll let Betsy share what happened next:

As we walked in chilly silence, I reflected on the intimacy break… and what was at stake with this cold war. I decided that I needed to apologize for trying to force him to embrace my perspective and for failing to honor his unique perspective on the matter.

I decided to apologize. It was very difficult—I felt like I was choking as the words came out of my mouth even though I knew in my heart of hearts that this was the right, good, and pure thing to do. Years of resistance to the vulnerability required to apologize made the action of apologizing feel unnatural and self-effacing.

But I know from months of practicing this skill, that apologizing is a pure way to reconnect and honor both myself and my spouse.

Sure enough, the result was immediate as the energy between them shifted from guardedness to a gentle, tender warmth. Playful intimacy returned, just like that.

If that sounds too good to be true, or like it would never work in your relationship consider the “A-ha!” moment she had only after she issued her apology.

Looking back, Betsy saw that she could have let go and shown respect for his differing perspective, even though in the moment it felt more important to force-feed him her own. Who wouldn’t shut down or get defensive?

Chilliness can be a valuable barometer of respect like that.

So, if it’s been a long winter at your house, it may be worth inspecting your side of the street.

Have you told your husband what to do, been “helpful” with something he was perfectly capable of doing himself, questioned his work decisions, criticized his diet or dress, or dismissed his parenting ideas?

This is not an exhaustive list, of course. For some of the sneaky forms disrespect can take, check out the Top 10 Ways to Control Your Husband.

If you identify with any of them, pull a Betsy and try experimenting with an apology. You might be surprised by just how powerful this single move is at restoring intimacy.

3. Activate His Hero Gene

Being Respectful in Marriage

As transformative as an apology is, it’s not the only way to be vulnerable–and thus connecting.

When Braunwyn and her husband used to argue about the finances, she says it would be a cold war on steroids! She felt hopeless. He thought one way about their money and she the other. She thought the bills he wanted to pay could wait.

She was so stressed and worried, afraid there wouldn’t be enough money for the house payment.

Once she saw that her fear was fueling control over the purse strings, she decided to apologize for being disrespectful.

Poof! Intimacy restored.

A few weeks later, as she was doing her part to manage the finances, a concern (read: fear) came up, but this time she took a different tack.

She said, “Can I borrow your brain about something? Since you get paid weekly and our groceries come out of the same account, I’m not sure if there will be enough money in the account when the mortgage payment is due. How do you think we should do it?”

She stayed quiet as he thought for a few minutes. He replied, “I guess I can have a certain amount taken out each week and put in an account to pay the mortgage and then we will know it is set aside.”

She received his problem-solving graciously, saying, “That’s a great idea!” Indeed, the problem was solved and he got to be her hero.

Ready to activate your husband’s hero gene? Try borrowing his brain.

4. Become Irresistible

How to be Irresistible to your husband

At night, Mel’s husband would go outside to smoke and drink. But this was supposed to be their special time together!

She felt conflicted but didn’t care to be out in the smoke. And when she brought it up, he got defensive.

She then realized that this was his self-care. So she decided she would do self-care during that time too. She would take a bath, learn to play the piano, or read a book to kids.

Even when she was reading to the kids while her husband was out front, choosing to see it as self-care—his and hers—made a huge difference.

This experiment was vulnerable though. Mel was afraid her husband would be mad at her for not spending that time with him.

Imagine her surprise when he then started texting her every day saying “I miss you” or “I’m thinking about you” throughout the day and calling her randomly.

Tending to her own happiness didn’t cost her connection after all but actually increased it! With her self-care tank full, Mel became magnetic.

What’s on your self-care list?

If you schedule at least three things a day that make you happy, prepare to be surprised as your magnetism increases and the distance decreases.

5. SFP (Spouse-Fulfilling Prophecy)

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

All the self-care in the world won’t banish that distance if something else is in the way: a negative Spouse-Fulfilling Prophecy.

If the story that keeps playing in your mind is that your husband is emotionally distant, the mind has a way of dismissing progress in favor of gathering evidence for the same old.

One way or the other, what you focus on increases.

Marissa experienced this phenomenon firsthand.

She looked over at her husband lying on the couch, on his phone. Yup! He was distant! As usual.

This went on for days, until she caught myself and realized where her focus was: on him being distant. She decided to shift her focus to them being connected then sent him a fun, flirty text.

Almost instantly, she got back an equally fun and flirty text. What?!

She thought he was being distant! Nope. Turns out maybe she was actually the one being distant—or at least falling into the trap of having that be her focus and then become her reality.

Where is your focus?

Whether you choose to experiment with this one or not, you’ll find out how powerful a manifester you really are.

Now that you have these 5 power moves so you don’t have to live with an emotionally distant husband anymore, which will you try first?

By Laura Doyle

Hi! I'm Laura.

New York Times Bestselling Author

I was the perfect wife--until I actually got married. When I tried to tell my husband how to be more romantic, more ambitious, and tidier, he avoided me. I dragged him to marriage counseling and nearly divorced him. I then started talking to women who had what I wanted in their marriages and that’s when I got my miracle. The man who wooed me returned.

I wrote a few books about what I learned and accidentally started a worldwide movement of women who practice The Six Intimacy Skills™ that lead to having amazing, vibrant relationships. The thing I’m most proud of is my playful, passionate relationship with my hilarious husband John–who has been dressing himself since before I was born.

14 replies on “How to Live with an Emotionally Distant Husband”

Please advise

What if he constantly worries
About his parents
Not current family,
Kids wife for 14 plus years

Soo, seeing your man constantly worry about his parents instead of his own family sounds, well, worrisome! Especially after you’ve been married over 14 years.

Here are the 6 Intimacy Skills that will turn this around for you. You and your children deserve to come first!

I love reading everything you share however in my world I need help with a blended family. My husband seems resentful of my kids. Mean to them and says things that put them down. Blames them for our marriage falling apart. He has anger issues and claims to be OCD and the two don’t mix. And when I try to tell him how I feel, in a bunch of different ways he either just stares at the TV or his phone and just waits for me to stop talking. I’ve tried I miss you on several occasions and get nothing. Tried just supporting him and nothing changes. He just takes thing to far and I am to the point of walking out and ending it.

Jessica, this must be absolutely heartbreaking to see as a mother. It sounds so lonely and scary. I can see why you’re on the fence. I spent a long time there myself and it was lousy. That’s why my coaches and I have helped so many women fix their marriages, even when things seemed hopeless.

If they can do it, you can do it too! Here’s a free Roadmap so you too can fix your relationship. These 6 simple steps have helped thousands of women turn things around.

We moved, we had a yelling 17year old, he had cancer ,parents died,son left he got depression. I’ve tried to ‘help’ with his parenting, depression and money. I’ve become lonely and numbed guilty and found self-care difficult, feeling guilty. Everyone around keeps telling me how to fix him and I listen . I think it’s my job to fix his depression or I’m guilty for doing it. I’m scared of finances, uncertainty, he’s bought a caravan in UK talking all the time now says we need to move back. I’m scared. I feel I’m messing everything up.

Becca, all you’ve been through sounds so painful. On top of everything else, feeling like you’re messing everything up is scary and so hard. I love your vulnerability and accountability.

I am so glad you decided to reach out and get coaching so you’re not alone with all this and have the support to turn things around. I am standing for you and look forward to seeing you on our call!

Hi Laura !How can I overcome the distance between me and My husband he was like this from the start as it was arrange marriage but he chose me as his wife I tried everything but he is always emotionally in available !he doesn’t like flirt he doesn’t like when I text him again and again as we are in LDR he never says I love you instead he says he hates me but he takes care of me buy me gifts takes me to fancy dinners and spend time with me when he comes home but I always crave for his presence as his parents and siblings live with us his attention is shared what should I do to become his priority instead of just responsibility ?

Hi Khaula, this distance sounds so painful. How lonely that it’s always been this way. Ouch, you shouldn’t have to hear such hurtful words from your own husband! Or have his attention divided. This must be so confusing!

I still remember how lonely and hurt I felt when my husband was distant and unavailable. So I know that you too can overcome the distance and become his priority! Here are all 6 Intimacy Skills to get you started.

Does this really work even if your husband is going through mental and emotional issues?

Jennifer, experiencing your husband going through mental and emotional issues is so hard. You are definitely not alone. So many of our students have come to our campus dealing with this and have completely turned things around. I remember feeling hopeless and afraid this approach wouldn’t work for me. That’s why my coaches and I have empowered thousands of women fix their relationships, even when there were mental/emotional issues. We can help you too! Get a coach so you too can start feeling desired, taken care of and special!

Thank you Laura for these invaluable reminders! I will pay special attention to the negative spouse fulfilling prophesies.

Apologizing for wanting my husband to see things my way in a recent situation that immediately caused us to get distance.

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