The Search for Intimacy: When Your Husband Doesn’t Care About Your Emotional Needs

by | Nov 14, 2018 | Sexual Intimacy | 43 comments

When it seems like your husband doesn't care about your emotional needs, here are some things to consider before you talk!
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Do you feel like your husband doesn’t care about your emotional needs?

This month, on Wednesdays, we’re talking about intimacy on three levels–emotional, spiritual, and physical, and how we can feel closer. Last Wednesday I introduced our theme for the month, talking about how God designed us for intimate relationships, and how it’s that intimacy that keeps us happy and healthy throughout our lives. It really does matter.
And yet all too often we do things that make intimacy hard to attain.
God created us for intimacy on different levels, too. And today I want to talk about that quest to feel close to our husbands–to feel that he truly loves us.
I received this letter from a reader recently which is quite similar to many desperate cries that I read. She writes:

Reader Question

I’m feeling hopeless in my marriage. I’m a very affectionate individual and it is not difficult for me to pre-organise anniversary plans for birthdays, Christmas, etc.. My husband on the other side comes from a completely different background. He didn’t grow up celebrating anything and he didn’t grow up in a home where a family is loving. I’ve always had attention and affection given to me by my parents. Now I’ve been struggling with that lack of communication and affection for five years, and he just doesn’t plan anything. I’ve been so miserable lately because I feel that I’m only good enough for sex. There’s no intimacy. I am so drained and I’ve spoken to him many times but I’m at a point in my life where I’ll just compliment myself and buy myself gifts, but that will just frustrate me more. I am a born again Christian and heaven knows I’ve been pleading for my marriage to better.

I see this a lot, though sometimes it’s with slightly different issues. She feels unloved because she feels as if he doesn’t make an effort, and so she pulls away further.

And she feels hopeless.

When you feel like your husband doesn’t care about you, there are really only two options. Either:

  1. your husband truly doesn’t care that you are upset and that you are hurting, or he may even revel in it; or
  2. there’s simply a disconnect between you, where you both love each other, but you’re not able to feel it right now.

Now, #1 definitely does happen. Some spouses truly don’t care, and even take perverse pleasure in wounding their spouse. If that’s the case for you, I’d highly recommend my friend Natalie’s book Is It Me: Making Sense of Your Confusing Marriage. She’s posted before for me about emotional abuse, and she’s an amazing writer.

But #1, statistically, is not that common. Yes, it happens, and I’ve talked about emotional abuse a lot on this blog. But most marriages are not emotionally abusive. In most marriages, both spouses truly do want the best for each other. What happens, though, is that because we have different primary ways of feeling loved, we focus on what we need, and not on what our spouse needs. And we create a disconnect that doesn’t need to be there.

Looking at your husband’s failings may be natural; but it is also completely counterproductive if you want to feel close.

Quite frankly, she needs to stop doing that. And if you’re in her shoes, I’d say this to you (and sorry if it’s harsh):

Stop looking at yourself, just for a little bit, and look at things from your husband’s perspective.

Here’s a guy that you know does love you. He does want the best for you. So how about asking yourself these two questions:

  1. How is he showing it?
  2. How does he want to feel close?

In the vast majority of marriages, I can guarantee you that he believes that he is showing her that he loves her (even though she’s not feeling it), and that’s making him supremely frustrated. And he is hurting, too, because he wants to feel close to her, but she is pulling away.

I have seen this dynamic in marriages of people that I know. They are so sure that they are the “good” ones in the marriage, who do everything right for the spouse, and the spouse is the sluggard who never thinks of the other. And yet to those on the outside, we can see that he’s trying to love her the best he knows how, and she’s constantly criticizing him and putting him down. And it’s so sad.

I don’t want you to talk past each other. I want you to bridge the gap!

So try these mind shifts to bring emotional intimacy:

Ask yourself: What can I be grateful to my husband for today?

Notice what he’s doing. Scan for the good that he does. Say a prayer of gratitude for it, and then speak it out loud. That one shift will help you to see the good in him far more than focusing on all the things that he fails at!

I think there’s a reason that Paul reminds us:

1 Thessalonians 5:18

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus, concerning you.

It’s God’s will that we focus on being grateful. Why? Because when we say thanks, we get our eyes off of ourselves and onto what we have to be thankful for. This was a major “thought” for me in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, and I explained it this way:

9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage

When we look for the bad, we’ll see the bad. But this can work to our advantage too. When we choose to look for the good things that our husbands do, we also tend to notice those things more. In fact, we’ll notice them so much that we often will fail to notice when they do things that are more likely to tick us off.
And that’s how God created our minds to work. Whatever we focus on expands. If you focus on God’s goodness and on being thankful for your marriage, you will tend to notice the things that you have to be grateful about. When you focusing on the things that bug you, you will tend to feel significantly more bugged.

So choose to focus on the good!

Ask yourself: how does my husband feel close to me?

Our letter writer has explained that she feels loved when he buys gifts, when he’s affectionate, and when he pre-plans things to show that he’s thought of her. This is how she was raised, and this is what she associates with feeling loved. But this isn’t how he was raised, and he likely doesn’t put a lot of value in these things. That doesn’t mean that they don’t matter–only that they matter far more to her than they do to him.
What this means is that she can pre-plan dates and anniversary nights all she wants, and he may go along with it, but it doesn’t necessarily connect with him. She feels like she’s doing all the work in the marriage, but here’s what I really want you all to understand: he may feel exactly the same way. If they feel loved differently, and she is doing all of this work being affectionate and pre-planning dates, and he experiences love another way, and he’s putting effort into that area, then they could be talking past each other.
That’s why it’s so crucial to ask: what does my husband need to feel loved? And though we all have different love languages, in all the work I’ve done with marriage, I’ve found that two things are almost universal: Feeling appreciated, and feeling sexually desired.

So let’s look at feeling appreciated. Men tend to put work into the areas where they feel competent. That’s why if a man feels he’s lousy at marriage he’ll start working more, or playing on the computer more. He retreats to areas of competence. Make your man feel incompetent and irrelevant, and he very well may retreat. I’m not saying that’s right–I’m just saying that’s what happens, again and again.
Then, of course, there’s sex. I know some men don’t want sex, and if you’re the higher drive wife, I’ve got a series on what to do if your husband doesn’t want sex! But for most men, enthusiasm for sex tends to equate with love for them. When you start refusing sex, your husband will feel like you’re rejecting him entirely.
And here’s a cool thing about sex: when we make love, we release the bonding hormone “oxytocin”, which makes us feel more affectionate and loving to the other person. So the more you make love, chances are the more affectionate your husband will be, anyway!

Ask yourself: how can I bridge the gap?

One of the main themes in the New Testament is that we need to take care of our own stuff first before we try to deal with someone else’s stuff (Matthew 7:1-3).

Philippians 2:3-5

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.

Paul also told us, in Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Sometimes it doesn’t depend on you, absolutely. But God asks you to do what you can. God asks you to not just focus on what you need, but also on what your husband needs.
Can you do what you can to bridge the gap? As you do that, you bring the tension level down. Your husband feels more accepted, and so he’s more open with you. You can laugh again. You’ll feel closer. You’ll start noticing the good that he is doing (because most men are doing good). And then, as the tension level decreases, it’s easier to say things like,

“Honey, I love you so much. You do an awesome job for us. You know what would make me feel so special? If you planned a birthday dinner for me. I’ve made a list of 15 things that I enjoy doing, and I’d absolutely love it if you picked one and planned it for us to do together.”

Can I issue you this intimacy challenge?

If you’re feeling like your husband doesn’t love you, doesn’t care about you, and is hopeless, try these things for two weeks:

  1. Thank him once a day for something that he is doing
  2. Have sex more frequently
  3. Say prayers of gratitude for the good you see in your husband.

See if your relationship changes!
Look, you can keep being bitter and feeling like it’s all his fault. But that will get you absolutely nowhere. So why not try this?
These are the kinds of challenges I issued, by the way, in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage. After talking about how to bridge the gap as far as it depends on you, I then talk about how to address real issues that do need to be resolved. Check out the book here!
When it seems like your husband doesn't care about your emotional needs, here are some things to consider before you talk!
Now let me know–do you and your husband ever talk past each other? What helped you bridge the gap? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Debbie

    These are good suggestions but dh has decided no more sex and no he is not going to do anything about his Ed and no he is not going to o anything to help us so I am beyond hopeless just waiting for the end and it couldn’t come sooner and yes we are both in counseling though it isn’t a real help

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Debbie, I’m sorry! I’m actually writing a post in two weeks about a husband who refuses to do anything about his low libido/sexual dysfunction problems, so I hope that will help.

  2. Natalie Hoffman

    Thank you for sharing my book with your readers!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you for writing it, Natalie!

  3. sunny-dee

    I’ll have to reread and ponder this one, but it did strike a nerve. First, I think there is a continuum between an emotionally abusive marriage and one where a husband is 100% loving and committed and communication has just broken down. Like, I believe my husband cares for me but I don’t think he is in love with me and I haven’t believed it for years. I don’t think he loved me when he married me, and I don’t think he married me for romantic love.
    As for “how does he want to be close,” that presupposes that he wants to be close. And I don’t think he does, past a certain point.
    Like, for example, I asked about doing a date night once a month. I do not mean a big expensive dinner or event — I would literally be cool with hitting Starbucks for an hour. And I told him that. He said he didn’t want to have that level of “commitment.”
    Another time, he had gone almost the entire evening going off by himself and not talking. We had had maybe 5 minutes of conversation that entire night, all him giving monosyllabic answers when I asked him questions. As we were getting ready for bed, I said that I wanted to respect his need for space but I also needed to talk to feel connected, and maybe we could schedule 20 minutes or even 10 minutes a day and then I could leave him alone the rest of the night. He said he felt that we had connected enough and didn’t see the reason to “do more.”
    All that to say — I don’t think my husband wants to feel close to me, or at least not close in anything that I would term close. I think that he wants someone to rely on and someone physically present for him** as a companion. But I don’t think he likes doing things with me or talking to me. He certainly doesn’t like anything that I like; I tried to ask him to watch a movie on Netflix with me, and before I could even tell him what it was, he said that he didn’t like anything that I liked and he was sure he wouldn’t enjoy it, so if I wanted to see it, he’d go eat dinner in the bedroom.
    ** Not sexually. He’s very very much not into sex with me and never has been.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, sunny-dee, that’s so awful. I’m very, very sorry. I’m sure you’ve read this post before on what to do if your husband won’t change, but I’ll leave it again. Does he engage with the children (I seem to remember you have some?)

      • sunny-dee

        We do. I have a stepson and I recently did IVF and have another beautiful son.
        My husband has his own demons, which is why I think he craved stability over romantic love. It’s like needing chicken noodle soup when you’re sick instead of a fancy dinner out. He is working on them (the big one, he’s been sober for about a month, which is freaking huge; I hope it lasts).
        His engagement with our kids is intermittent. He truly and sincerely loves them both and he tries to do all of my stepson’s school events. The drinking cut back on his engagement a lot, but even sober, he prioritizes alone time over family time. I can generally get him to do some level of interaction, like an outing and a meal per day, but that’s about it. I think that will improve as his physical health adjusts from sobering up.
        Sam (our son) was one of the motivations for him deciding not to drink. He had a nice evening with him, playing with him, and then went and got drunk anyway and something about it just hit him, about what he could lose and that being happy wasn’t enough to keep him from drinking. And he told me he would commit to not drinking for the rest of the year and then see where to go from there.

        • sunny-dee

          BTW, I know I am being selfish here. The focus needs to be on my husband getting healthy. It needs to be on nurturing my kids and preserving their relationships with their dad (which will be infinitely better when he’s sober and can be truly present in the moment).
          There’s just a part of me that really wants to be the focus sometimes, you know? I want someone else to be as invested in me as I need to be in everyone else.
          But, after processing and rereading this less emotionally, I can definitely follow along with it. I need to focus on the good and be more giving and kind in how I think.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I totally get it, Sunny-Dee. Keith and I were talking about your situation last night at dinner. It is hard.
            I think right now, though, you’re in such a time of transition, with your husband being sober for such a short time. That’s got to be really emotional and difficult for everyone. I’ll try to remember to keep him in my prayers for continued sobriety!

        • Ixchel

          I really think your husband is really depressed, and doesn’t know if talking could fix it… try to schedule trips camping stuff that he likes so he can open up in his own spaces. I don’t think it has nothing to do with you unless he’s holding a grudge or something if he’s not then it might be a very very bad depression. Does he work ? What he does ?

    • Phil

      Hi Sunny – Over time I have gotten the gist of your story from this blog and Hotholyhumorous. When you share your story I really am sad for you and your situation. It seems like your husband may fall under category #1. I am not sure what to say about that because in that case it is on him to want to change. I wanted to offer you some comfort. I wanted to let you know that from time to time when you are vulnerable enough to share your story on someones blog and I see it that I pray for you. Today I will say a prayer for you and your husband. Take care. Today I was listening to youtube while working and this link is to a song that caught me off guard and gave me that God Chill that he is ever present. Here is Micah Tyler That Gent Mark

      • Phil

        well the link works but it is named wrong – I am a rookie at blog tech stuff lol

    • Hannah

      This is exactly my husband and I felt the same way reading this article. Sometimes one person is trying to do everything to save a marriage and the other just simply doesn’t care.

    • Annie

      Sounds like my husband word for word. And it’s been the case every night for the past 5 months

  4. Ashley

    This is definitely advice that would help in a lot of marriages. But I cringe when I think of women in abusive relationships reading this. I’m sorry. I love so many of your posts, and you help so many marriages. But the problem is that many times abused women don’t KNOW they are being abused. Or they suspect, but they are afraid of the truth. I’ve read quite a few articles about emotional abuse in the last year, and the numbers I’m seeing for people in abusive relationships are shockingly high.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Ashley, I understand, which is why I put a big disclaimer at the beginning. I know some people are in abusive relationships, and I’ve written so much about it in the last year, too. The problem is that many women (most women, really) aren’t, and many need to give their heads a shake to make their marriages better.
      It’s always a fine balance when you’re writing for marriage, because, as I’ve said before (many times), there is no one size fits all marriage advice. But if we always slant it towards women who are abused, then the women who aren’t abused are never told–you may have to simply check what you’re doing. So I like to think that over the course of the blog I’m pretty even-handed. But I do think that those who aren’t abused need to be given some help, too!
      And, again, if you suspect that you are in an abusive marriage, please read this one on how to admit to yourself you’re being abused.

      • Ashley

        I know you have written on abuse, and I appreciate that so much! But it seemed to me (I very well could be wrong) like the angle of this article was sort of like “some women are abused, but most aren’t, so you probably aren’t, so you need to work on yourself.” Now maybe I’m the only one who took it that way.
        I saw numbers today from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, that 1 in 3 women have experienced some form of violence by an intimate partner. That’s heartbreaking! I know you can’t write about every kind of marriage in every post. I just don’t want anyone discounting their gut feelings because they read that most marriages aren’t abusive.

  5. Bobthemusicguy

    Sheila, thanks for this post and all your emphasis on relational intimacy. I agree, with someone who is being emotionally abused, this advice won’t work. That’s like aspirin for cancer. And I have no idea about the statistics you quoted. I’d be interested in the source. I don’t question it, just want to know.
    Anyway, two books that helped me (and us) are The Five Love Languages, and Sacred Marriage. Yes, it takes two to “fix” a marriage (actually, three, including God). But it starts with each individual being changed, then as a couple.
    The love languages concept was an eye-opener. As a teacher, I would learn some things that were “aha moments” and which explained some of my students. The idea of love languages totally changed my understanding of communication, and not just in a marriage. Without this understanding, it’s like one person yelling at the other in Greek and the other yelling back in Arabic, and neither one making progress because each is mono-lingual and there is no translator.

    • bobsmusicgal

      As wife of the above commenter, I can confidently say that learning your spouse’s love language is a helpful to understanding him/her. However, when we got married, we were both so unfulfilled (we both came from abusive first marriages) that we needed every love language to be demonstrated. As the dust settled, it became clear that I mostly needed words of encouragement and he needed physical touch. So we strive to fulfill those needs for each other. I am a very happy and satisfied wife.

  6. Deborah Davie

    This is a great post. Keep up the good work. I have found that focusing on another’s needs is a great way to draw closer to God. We are to put God first, then others and lastly ourselves. You have to lose to win,

  7. Denise Kean

    Thank you so much for this post, I and my marriage SO need it!!! It really helps me to know that it’s not just my husband, that it is men in general, and to have a path to follow to help me! I know my husband loves me , we have been married for five years but together a lot longer that that.. he is nursing me through a total knee replacement and has been taking such good care of me. But he a retired police officer who doesn’t deal with feelings well and who doesn’t show me any affection anymore. He is also always right! 😲 Our sex life has gotten to the point where it’s non-existent due to the surgery (actually it was before that too) and I have been trying to work on that…. Thank you for this!!! I feel hopeful!! Pray for me, please, I am almost 7 weeks post-op and am still in pain. Love you’re website and the blog!!!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Denise, I’m sorry about your pain! And your surgery. I’m glad this post helped you, and I’ve said a prayer for you.

    • Stephanie

      I know it has been a while since you shared this post but I pray your knee is completely healed and things are better between you and your husband!

  8. Bethany

    I just want to quickly comment…
    I prayed for 6 years to feel a connection with my husband. He was severely depressed, emotionally unavailable, angry and hard hearted. He had No connection to God, our kids, friends, or me. I was SO lonely.
    God taught me to A) give up control (on everything) and then do it again and again. Trust Gods timing and plan
    B) that I am accountable for my actions and response.
    C) I must tell the truth respectfully and forgive
    And have good boundaries
    D) PRAY PRAY PRAY for walls to come down, for me, for godly men…
    E) study my husband and learn his hurts… what makes him tick. Study his family, why he is the way he is. What sets him off? Basically become his personal counsellor
    F) to ask God what he’s teaching me and to praise him in the hard. After all, God is our first love. (These are in no particular order)
    One book that helped was married but lonely by David E. Clark. Have you read this Sheila? Amazing book, it’s counselling and funny. It helped to understand intimacy avoiders, how to talk and how to give up control, and what women need (biblically) in a marriage and steps to take.
    But basicallly in the end I needed a miracle.
    I just wanted to share, two nights ago my husband had a complete heart change. My prayer that my husbands hard heart would be a heart of flesh instead of stone was answered. It was only by the power of the Holy Spirit that my husband admitted his hardness, his disconnect, his going thru the motions…
    And you know what was so amazing? It resonated with so many other men! There was a crowd of crying men around my husband as he was being delivered. The last two nights my husband and I have prayed together and his heart is open and soft. We have a long road ahead but oh my! I feel for women who are lonely and get pat answers.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s wonderful! I’m so glad your marriage experienced that. Quite often, the only thing that can help is God’s power. We need the Holy Spirit. Thanks for the reminder to persevere in prayer!

    • Stephanie

      WOW six years is a long time to pray, bless you for hanging in there! I know it’s been a while since you posted this, but thank you for sharing and I pray that things are still going well for you.

  9. LonelyInNM

    I agree that BOTH spouses need to work to find out what the other needs and work to actually give it them. My experience is that my husband needs sex. That’s really all. And he has said as much. Of course he loves hearing how great and smart etc he is, but he “hears” those things through sex even when they aren’t verbally spoken. I need emotional connection. I need the person I’m closest to and most intimate with (my husband) to actually care about me and my feelings and to validate them. Unfortunately, when he doesn’t, the last thing I want to do is have sex with him. I’m so tired of Christian women being told it is our duty to have sex with our husbands regardless of how we feel. If he cannot actually care about my feelings, I cannot have sex with him. That’s the difference between an intimate marriage and a fling. I didn’t get married to have fling sex. I got married to have a partner to share life with, and I mean more than kids, cars, houses, and bills. I mean when I have a bad day at work and need to talk about it, he needs to listen and ACTUALLY care and encourage me; not defend the people at work that were rude to me; not pretend to care and act like he’s listening so he can get sex later! And trust me, women know the difference. It becomes a vicious cycle. He is not supportive. I don’t desire sex. He is less supportive. I really don’t desire sex at all. He is even less supportive. I determine to never talk about my problems with him ever again and end up reading articles like this one to find some glimmer of hope that men want more than sex. No such luck. And, the next time a person tells a woman to get emotional support from their girlfriends, they need to tell that woman’s husband to get sex from his boyfriends!

  10. Carly Rogers

    *sigh* why are there so many articles telling women how to meet her husband half way and what to do to accommodate his needs and natural reaction to retreat. They’re telling us to forego our needs for intimacy and do this for him first so he can do what you need in return. Why aren’t we talking about what he should do first? It’s frustrating that as wives we always have to wear the burden of change in marriage. If he gets to be flawed and stifled in communication, why can’t I maintain my rigidity in my need for intimacy and he do the work?! As long as we keep placing the work on women, men will never step up to the plate.

    • Jennifer

      What you wrote sounds like you are me, writing about my own marriage. How can I put myself out there to offer my most intimate self, when my most intimate self is not treated with the intimacy and love I need. If that’s not cultivated, I don’t feel intimate. I’m not withholding sex from him as some weapon ( as he suggests when I try to breech the subject of our intimacy issues). I cannot just “have sex” like some object laying there, when my own emotional needs aren’t met first. You’re right, it’s a horrible, vicious cycle. How can I let my mind and body be vulnerable when the person I’m being vulnerable with, doesn’t try their hardest to meet my emotional needs? I love my husband, I care about him, I WANT to have great sex with him…but I feel emotionally uncared for and my sexual desire is completely absent. I’m really at a loss.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Jennifer, this is a bit of a catch-22. I will say that it really depends what you mean by him not caring for you. If you’re just not feeling close, and if he’s ignoring you or not opening up to you, that’s one thing. If he’s being abusive, that’s another. But if it’s the former, then what I have found is that we can get in a negative spiral where you withhold because he’s not being open with you, but then he withdraws because he feels rejected, and it gets worse and worse. When we choose to be intimate, we can start to break that cycle. I wouldn’t do that in isolation from other things (I’ve got a great 5-step email course on how to build emotional connection, which you can try at the same time), but I will say that what I’ve found is that choosing to be intimate often breaks the cycle and breaks the ice.
        Not always–and sometimes there is much more going on. But often things get worse and worse because you’re both hurting so much and you’re both feeling rejected. And that becomes a choice–do we want to keep going this way, or do we want to break that cycle?

  11. Katie

    Thank you for this helpful article and for the encouragement to change my focus from what my hubby does that hurts me to what he does that is good. I have a question: Early on in your article you say that the reader who sent the letter had “pulled away further” from her husband in response to his behaviour towards her, however I can’t see the evidence of this in the part of the letter that you put up. I’m just curious how you came to this conclusion and am I missing something? I don’t see how her buying herself gifts or complimenting herself is necessarily pulling away from her husband. To me that just sounds like taking responsibility for her own needs. I’d really appreciate your insight on this. Thanks in advance

  12. Melanie O'Donohue

    I am sitting here writing this while my husband of over 25 years celebrates Christmas with his family. I have been totally disconnected with them after many years of hurt and loss. We do not have any contact with my family as well, so you can imagine the loneliness I am feeling right now. We have not had sex in fifteen years. It started with having a child with a disability which took all of our time and focus. He is now 22 and still lives with us. My husband began sleeping on the couch because of his snoring, and will not do anything about it. He no longer hugs, kisses, or touches me at all much less have any type of sexual contact. I have asked, I have suggested, but I will not beg. I love him, but I do not like this situation. I go to counseling, but I can’t make him change. At almost 60, I feel old, unattractive, and unloved. I really don’t know what to do at this point and need some advice. Thank you for reading this. Melanie

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Melanie, I’m so sorry. That sounds so difficult. I can’t imagine that he’s happy with the situation, either. It’s likely a lot of hurt that has happened and built up over the years. Is there any way that you can work on just building a friendship–trying to find things to do together? Or is he totally disconnected that way, too.

  13. Renee

    Why are men not being held accountable as well?? I’m seeing a lot of focus being placed on women, however men as well have a part to play!! Why do we continue to turn a blind eye to this?

    • A wife

      Advice like that is not right and unfair and why people have a hard time in marriage. The husband of the woman who wrote the letter has a problem and instead of you telling the woman something to help you made it seem like she has problems and she should work on things. I have seen this from Christian people more than once. A man can mistreat his wife or even cheat and instead of telling the man he’s done wrong and make him fix it, they tell the wife to so things like she has to fix it or act like it’s her fault! That’s part of a bigger problem in the Church of not dealing with people who do wrong more and instead telling victims to just forgive and basically let themselves be done wrong.

  14. Kristina Barker

    I’m a Christian Marriage and Family Therapist. I’m really big on preaching selfless love and many of the points addressed here. My question is how to support a wife who really is married to a selfish/ self-centered husband who consistently benefits from her generosity and grace but doesn’t return it. Healthy relationships must be reciprocal on some level.

  15. Unhappy Wife

    Ugh! I’m having such a hard time with this. For 11 years I have literally been the glue that holds our relationship together and I rarely get my needs met. I have to beg, cry, argue. I hate that bc then at that point he wants to “love me now” but I don’t want it anymore bc it feels like I forced him to do it. I haven’t always begged, cried, or argued to get love though. For many many years I gave and gave and gave and got nothing and still continued to give and didn’t say a thing bc I thought one day, one day he will get it. One day he will learn how to love me if I just keep showing him I love him! Finally, one day I just got burned out and quit. It completely sucks giving so much of urself to someone in every way and fulfilling their needs, even though you don’t receive love the same way they do, just to get nothing back.. ever!! (Unless I beg. Which makes me feel pathetic.) I just am having a hard time with the fact that I have given so much for so long and now, in order to fix my marriage, I have to give more while he does nothing again! It’s just really not sitting well with my soul. Like, seriously though. I’m the one in, what feels like, dire need for love!! Why isn’t he having to take action?? I hate that so much! It feels so unfair!! And then I read above that you requested for the lady to make a list for her husband giving him 15 options for him to choose from to take her out on a date. Like what?! Is that serious?? I feel like this is why men are the way they are! We spoon feed everything to them until they are basically handicapped in relationships. These are grown men!!!!! They are not stupid creatures!!!! Any mature adult male should be able to figure out for himself how to take his wife on a date! No one should have to give out lists for that!! If he would simply listen when she talks to him, he would know exactly what she likes bc I know that poor lady tells him!! I know she does bc I tell mine what I like and how I like it and why I like it and even when I like it. I tell him these things all the time!!! He makes a choice to not listen. He makes a choice to not take action on the information I give him. It’s a choice!!!! Why should I keep breaking my back 247 for someone that is so ungrateful they can’t even listen to me when I tell them how I like to be loved?? It’s bizarre to me. They get off Scott free while we are the ones being neglected!!! I’m sure he feels like he loves me in his own way and that’s great or whatever!!! But how on earth does it benefit me at all if I can’t receive that love bc he’s loving me in his love language and not mine?!?! (And he knows good and well what my love language is and how he can show me love bc I tell him that all the time too! He makes the choice not to take action!) I didn’t marry him just to love him 247 by myself! Like I’m more than happy to love him 247 but it’s got to be a mutual thing here! I have needs too. He just takes! I married this man for what he brings to the table to better my life and our relationship together. Just like I consistently try to better his! Maybe that sounds selfish but it’s true. We don’t marry for the other person.. we marry for ourselves!! If I’m doing all the work alone already.. why should I be made to do more?? He doesn’t ever feel neglected. Even when I intentionally neglect him.. it doesn’t even phase him. He doesn’t even notice. I’m married to someone who completely doesn’t need me. He rarely has sex with me. He would rather please himself. I know he loves me (sort of) but I also don’t know it too! He makes me feel so alone and so disconnected. It has severely damaged my self worth and self esteem. The lack of sex makes me feel like he thinks I’m unattractive. I know that I should take the steps you said to make my relationship better bc if I left it up to him we would be divorced in a month and I honestly don’t want a divorce at all. I want my marriage to work. However, it just feels so wrong! I don’t want to be the one that initiates it all the time. I’m tired of it! I feel like I NEED him to do that his self once in a while bc the effort is what shows me he really does care about me and I don’t wanna make him a list or give him a reminder bc why can’t he just love me on his own?? Why is loving me so hard for him?? It’s not hard for me to remember to love him how he receives love!!! For gods sake, he’s all I think about. I doubt he ever thinks about me. Probably only when I force him too. Honestly, I’m 100% okay with it not being 50/50. I’ll happily take 80/20! If he would just do things sometimes.. I would be so happy!!! I’d be perfectly okay with picking up the 80% alone! I just need something. Anything at all bc my tank is completely empty. The reserves are fully gone. I’m literally holding us together with fumes now and it’s killing me!!! I just want to feel loved by him so bad!!!! Bc I love him! Why doesn’t he love me?!?!😭😭😭 Sorry if I came off offensive. I probably didn’t mean 99.9% of what I said. I am just so frustrated right now. I think ur advice and ur blog posts are great!! I’m just mad that I have to do the work to fix my marriage while he kicks back. He should be putting in efforts for me right now while I get to kick back for a minute. I just want it to be a mutual give and take and not just me giving and him taking all the time.😩

  16. Supefan

    Do you have a companion article for the husband?

  17. Jan

    Mmm, I think this article needs updating.

  18. Chris

    How do you have sex with a spouse that doesn’t put forth effort to meet emotional needs?
    Emotion and sexual connection are so intertwined to me. How can I give from an empty cup?

  19. Ella

    My husband basically refuses to give me emotional intimacy. He’s just not wired that way. 🙁 it sucks because I feel like I’m such a passionate person who just craves someone to connect with. I’ve told him for years that quality time is one of my biggest love languages, but that’s the one he’ll refuse to give me! I think sex is his love language… but like why others have said, I don’t want to have sex with someone who doesn’t fill my emotional needs. It feels like an obligation and I just want him to get it over and done with as fast as he can. The few times we do talk, he misunderstands everything I say; he never remembers anything important I tell him; and I overall feel like he doesn’t care about me. I suggested marriage counselling, but he won’t go. I even tried pointing out how he stopped being affectionate toward me. He’ll try being a bit affectionate for a few days- but then he’ll go right back to ignoring me, playing on his computer and golfing all the time. 🙁 I do love him and he’s a great dad- I am just feeling hopeless and want our marriage to get better. I feel like I’m becoming a shell of a person because my emotional intimate needs are not being met.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Ella, if he isn’t engaging with you emotionally, that does matter. And sex is not a love language. What this likely means is that he’s channelled his needs for connection into sex, so that he can feel connected without having to do the work of connecting. It’s okay to say, “we have some major, major problems and we need to work on them.” And if he isn’t willing, then you become more like roommates who raise kids together. But if he wants a marriage, he should act like he’s in a marriage, and it’s okay to insist on that.

      • Ella

        I appreciate your response! That is exactly how I feel. He makes me feel I’m being overly dramatic whenever I try to talk to him about our marriage, so it’s nice to know we do have some problems we need to work out. Thank you!


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