Emotional abandonment or neglect in a marriage can often result in the end of a relationship. When one or both partners pull away from the relationship to avoid conflict and convey disapproval by creating distance or by withholding attention or affection emotional neglect and abandonment are present. This pattern frequently results in one partner experiencing feelings of isolation, rejection, and lack of support.One partner may say something like, “Whenever I try to talk to my husband or wife about my true feelings, they tell me I’m blowing things out of proportion, and then they walk out of the room, and I won’t see them for hours.”
It may be difficult to recognize emotional abandonment in the early stages of a marriage, but one of the most common signs is when an individual’s attempts at connection are ignored. It’s almost as if there’s a wall you can’t see that is blocking your path to your partner, and you can’t do anything about it.
When one partner in a marriage feels emotionally abandoned by the other, the partners frequently stop talking about their feelings and become unresponsive and uncommunicative.
In a marriage, what exactly does it mean to abandon someone emotionally?
In the context of a marriage, the feelings of neglect, being left out, and not being heard are collectively referred to as emotional abandonment. It occurs when one partner is so preoccupied with their own concerns that they are unable to notice the struggles, concerns, or problems their partner is experiencing.
Signs of emotional abandonment.
Here are eight signs that a husband or wife may have emotionally abandoned you in your marriage.
- You experience feelings of rejection, isolation, and/or neglect within your marriage.
- Your partner frequently gives you the cold shoulder in response to your attempts to get their attention.
- When you want to talk about something, your partner places the blame on you and pulls away from you rather than communicating their genuine feelings.
- You regularly experience your partner withholding affection, approval, or attention from you.
- You try to avoid conflict with your partner at all costs and don’t feel safe exposing your weaker sides in front of them.
- Your relationship suffers from a lack of sexual intimacy.
- You experience feelings of social isolation and rarely leave the house with your partner.
- You tend to tell other people, rather than your partner, important information because of your lack of trust in them.
Factors that contribute to emotional abandonment in married life.
An emotional affair or one that takes place outside of the marriage can sometimes be the root cause of emotional abandonment in a marriage. If your significant other starts talking about your issues with someone else again and again it opens the door for an emotional connection. Over time, this can pave the way for a profound connection beyond simple friendship.
Cathy Meyer, who specializes in relationships, says that emotional and extramarital affairs are both examples of forms of betrayal. In most cases, cheating occurs when two people meet face-to-face and then engage in sexual activity with one another. Meyer says that physical contact is what differentiates a physical affair from an emotional affair.
Sarah O’Leary, Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, explains that there are other scenarios in which the root cause of emotional abandonment or neglect in a marriage may lie deeper within the relationship. “Emotional neglect frequently results from a person’s attachment issues,” the author writes. If someone never learned how to have relationships that are supportive and healthy when they were a child or a teenager, it will be difficult for them to do so as an adult.
Counseling for those who have been emotionally neglected.
How can you and your spouse recognize the warning signs of emotional abandonment in your marriage and take steps to prevent it? Here are some possible approaches:
1. Create a channel of communication that is transparent and accessible at all times.
When your partner complains about the way you behave, you should make an effort not to take it personally. Instead, give careful attention to what they have to say to you. In addition, refrain from reacting angrily or being condescending toward them, allowing them to talk openly about their concerns without interrupting them. The next step is to respond calmly, validate their points, and express your viewpoint.
2. When you are feeling upset, face your partner and avoid withdrawing from the relationship.
Turning toward your companion and demonstrating a willingness to have a conversation are both great ways to ensure that you don’t get left behind in an important conversation. Even if you are feeling rejected or resentful, it is important to listen to their side of the story.
Simple gestures like a smile or a tap on the shoulder can go a long way in fostering connection. If you notice that your partner is walking away from you, or turning their back on you, or looking at their phone, politely ask them if they have time to talk. Make sure to turn toward one another and maintain good eye contact.
3. Steer clear of the pattern of pursuer-distancer.
This dynamic arises when one partner withdraws emotionally and becomes defensive, while the other partner becomes critical and assertive in their pursuit of attention.
If this is happening the pursuer needs to take a few steps back and show the evader that they should get closer to them by demonstrating empathy and understanding. This pattern has the potential to ruin a marriage, so it is important to be aware of it and to intervene as soon as possible by switching around this dynamic.
4. If your partner is stonewalling you, try to find ways to comfort yourself first.
If you feel overwhelmed or stressed, give yourself a short break. This will give you and your partner time to compose yourselves and calm down, resulting in a more meaningful conversation. Determine the length of time you intend to take off from the dialogue and write it down.
Couples typically feel less defensive after taking a break, which helps with a more expedient recovery from feelings of hurt and rejection. This allows them to return to a discussion respectfully.
5. Refrain from portraying yourself as a helpless victim.
It is essential to avoid taking the blame for what happened to you or acting like a victim if you want to get over the wounds left by emotional abandonment and move on with your life. Do not rehash the past and go over what your spouse did again and again. It’s possible that doing so will make them more defensive, which will work against your efforts to maintain healthy communication.
When you have gained the knowledge to recognize and steer clear of the patterns of behavior that can result in emotional abandonment in a marriage, it will be much simpler for you to communicate effectively with your spouse.
If you find that you are having difficulty, you should communicate your requirements to the other person in a constructive manner by using an “I statement.” Instead of placing blame on them, you focus on expressing what you are feeling or experiencing.
For example, you could say something along the lines of, “I feel distant from you. It feels like you’re getting further and further away, but I really want to connect with you.” Statements like this shift from blame to expressing your thoughts.
If you remain truthful and open with your partner during times of high conflict, emotional distance, or distress, you will, over time, restore intimacy between the two of you. Get in touch with our offices and speak to a counselor that can support you in this process.
“Old Train Car”, Courtesy of Sofia Costa, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Committed”, Courtesy of Zoriana Stakhniv, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Bride and Groom”, Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Lonely Road”, Courtesy of Warren Wong, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact one of our counselors for further information.