If you have an emotionally unavailable spouse, does him make you feel starved?
We connect with others in this life using the attachment models we learned in our families. So, perhaps when you were growing up, you could marvel at the different ways in which people treated each other in your friends’ own families? some mothers were too connected and overbearing, others were distant and preoccupied by other issues than their children’s lives…all the gamut of emotional involvement can be found, from the smothering to the unavailable.
Of course, everyone can connect as much or as little as he or she wants…up until the moment they enter into a permanent relationship that has a set of expectations already set in. Then, the real pain begins, due to different needs from the two sides. What we call now emotionally unavailable is the communication style that permanently frustrates the emotional needs for love and connection from the other side…This person will end up feeling neglected, unloved and unwanted, inside the relationship designed to give him/her the most comforting experience of being loved.
Lots of articles tend to describe this emotionally contained attitude as a voluntary strategy to create barriers between themselves and their partners in an effort to avoid emotional intimacy. It’s kind of a bind: people will actually seek out relationships with others, believing that they can connect, or that they will learn with time to open up. In the present, even when they promise to do so, they are unable to commit fully to their relationships. They will fall short of the live and deep emotional bond that the other person they married keeps expecting.
Even if you have to decide if this person can’t or doesn’t want to make himself available to you, you still need to look for ways of shielding yourself from this frustrating situation.
In short: what are you supposed to do when he or she behaves in this way?
Is elusive, secretive and restricts sharing information with you, not with others
Offers always excuses for not being more communicative, as being tired, etc.
Ignores the words to talk about feelings, and avoids talks on the relationship.
Reacting with anger, criticism, and sarcasm to the pleas for a talk;
- Constantly inventing activities to create distance.
The worst that can happen to you:
Is that you cover up the situation with excuses: He is too busy; he is tired; he grew up in a silent household, but promised to change…..
You need to know what kind of emotional proximity you need in this most important relationship. If you really need feeling loved and connected, to be married to an emotionally unavailable man is sheer torture.
If your answer is: “I grew up in a very warm home, and I want the same for me and my kids,” then perhaps you need to evaluate if you can help this man shed his childhood inhibitions, acknowledge that he also needs affection expressed every day, and ask for some kind of professional help.
After you’ve told him the kind of relationship you want and need, let him respond. Perhaps he will give you an honest answer that will tell you just what the situation is…
There is only a choice: is he willing to find some help to overcome the emotional shortcomings of his past?
If he is not, and for him the way he is now is “normal,” and doesn’t think he needs to change you’ll need to start putting some space between the two of you. Without a plan to get him into a better emotional degree of maturity, you may be always disappointed with the bits of affection you can get. And, most important, he has to need this change in his emotional life…you can’t make him change, because you can’t parent him!
If he rejects this conversation and wants to “be accepted” as I am now” is time to reflect on your future and make the painful decision of looking outside for a fully emotional relationship. Time to take care of yourself….right? Or you can read “Breaking Free from Emotional Abuse...” and begin to consider emotional unavailability as a way of life, as a form of abuse on you.