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Husband incapable of emotional intimacy...

Discussion in 'Married Couples' started by donnamabob, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. donnamabob

    donnamabob Newbie

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    Hi there. My husband and I have been married for a year and a half now, and it's starting to become clear that he is not capable of giving me the emotional intimacy that I need.

    We've talked about this so many times that I feel like I'm beating a dead horse. I purchased a book for him which explained in great detail what it is that women need from their husbands and why. He read the entire thing and claims to have understood it. Every time I bring it up, he musters up some of what I need, just enough to "fix" me, and then goes back to normal. Which only proves even further that he does understand what I'm talking about.

    From what I can tell, his father was the exact same way, if not worse. We've talked about this as well, he agreed, and it didn't change anything.

    He is the same way in all of his relationships, completely unable to open up emotionally or share any part of himself. He has no close friendships, probably never has.

    Naturally, this is starting to spill over into our physical relationship. I do my best to do what the bible tells me to do as a wife in that department, but there is no desire. My husband knows this, and again, we've talked about why, but it seems he's willing to settle for less than the best if it means he can avoid emotional intimacy.

    I really don't know what to do any more. I don't want to spend the rest of our marriage in a cycle of learning to forgive him, and learning not to sin out of my anger, and learning to not resent him, etc. I try so hard to remind myself that "It's not all about me" - but in this case, I know that if it's somewhat about me, he will be much better off as well.

    I'm just so frustrated, and we're about to go around the "talk about how I feel, he pretends to do something about it, I feel better, he shuts down again" cycle for the 3rd time this month! Everything in me wants to put up a wall and just completely shut him out so that I can stop experiencing the pain that this is causing me, but I know that will only hurt the situation more.

    Does anyone have any advice at all? Thank you...
     
  2. JRSut1000

    JRSut1000 Newbie no more!

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    I guess I dont concretely understand what you mean when you say you're husband is incapabable of emotional intimacy. Bear with me here, I think its a popular thing now among women that men have to be just like women in the 'emotional/talk' mode. But many men just are not talkative or dont know how to show affection. How do I know? I married a man that was hard to get to know, not very affectionate and other than the things of God, we dont talk about deep things. But this doesnt mean he's void of any emotional intimacy, he just shows it differently.

    Maybe your husband shows it differently or like my husband has a hard time with the whole affection/talking thing. It's probably just not his love language although I think over time it can grow. My husband has changed a lot in 3 years but from the outside people cant really see it a lot.
     
  3. donnamabob

    donnamabob Newbie

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    Thanks for your response...from what I understand, this is a very common problem in marriages, whether people are able to pinpoint it or not. Here are some resources that describe what I am experiencing in great detail:

    9 Signs Emotional Intimacy is Suffering in a Marriage

    The Emotionally Distant Husband | Marriage Missions International

    Increase Emotional Intimacy in Relationships

    intimacy in marriage

    intimacy in marriage

    intimacy in marriage

    I believe that because men are created in the image of God, they are naturally designed to express great intimacy in their relationships, however, our society has taught them to with hold this intimacy. Furthermore, I believe that this is a great deception that satan has put in place in order to destroy the family unit - and it's clearly working, with the divorce rate being up around 50% now. I see that women have found all kinds of ways to cope with this, most of which further bury the root of the problem, but I for one am not willing to let my marriage be destroyed by a tactic that I can plainly see. But other than prayer, I don't exactly know what to do about it. I see myself being tempted put up walls, and find distractions, or to believe that this is "just the way men are" or that "people don't change", or that "I married the wrong person and have to live with it" - but those are LIES designed to keep our marriage in this oppression. I see all of this, and the worst part is that my husband see's it too - but he's not doing anything about it.
     
  4. JaneFW

    JaneFW New Member

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    Have you guys tried counseling?

    I hear you loud and clear about the lack of emotional intimacy. Unfortunately, trying to "force" it can make the spouse retreat only further.

    Would he go to counseling?
     
  5. dallasapple

    dallasapple New Member

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    Your last line is 'hes not doing anything about it"..and he is the only one that can..Your only hope is that he cares enough to take you seriously and gets engaged..Unfortunately since of course hes been "trained" to be the what?" the siilent type" ?then he may take the view that there is nothing wrong with that therefore you are just nit pickig at him and you shoud just 'love HIM' the way he is..It may be that he cant change I dont know..

    Another interesting thing i read form a chapter in a book a friend linked it talked about how a man(this MAY apply to women as well)..isnt moved to "change" over YOUR pain or unhappiness..he is only moved to change over HIS pain or unhappiness..In other words you can be extremely unhappy..while he is perfectly content..he will even "put up with' your occassional "nagging' about this issue..ride it out until you shut up again and get comfortabel again in complacency..

    Anyway I can relate..and especially on those links about the sex thing..you become distant that way..next thing you know hes running around yelling and complaining you won't have sex..(or enough sex or you act like its a chore)..and the ENTIRE focus switches to what YOUR problem in bed is..if you try to explain you don't have it IN YOU becasue you have ZERO bonding outside of bed and you cant CREATE passion that does not EXIST only on a matress....then you will be accused of using sex as a weapon or to manipulate him..and if he does start "trying' only at that point its very possible hes only forcing himself to go through the motions himself..to get his goal..sex...the lie becomes ya''ls "issue " is sex..when its not..sex is a symptom of the bigger issue..

    Sorry to sound so grim..but the writing is on the wall unless you get into counseling NOW and stay in it..where possibly he can LEARN how to be connected to you becasue quite frankly he may just not KNOW how and needs instructions like a map.then over TIME it wil be more natural and flowing.Also I agree with JR...try hard to RECOGNIZE subtle ways hes trying to connect with you even if they arent exactly how you want them..and appreciate that ..COUNT that as him loving you and engaging with you intimately.Notice things things and stop and tell him..SEE thats what I love I love when you shared about 'blank"..or when you did "blank"..Otherwsie he may start to feel like "no matter what he does its not good enough" (which of course isnt true because it ISNT no matter what because hes not doign the #1 things your ASKING for) but still try and TAKE his gestures of love as intimacy ..the non sexual kind..TRY very hard and fervently not to just dwell and focus on the things you need not being given..WHILE working towards that goal of course..because I know you cant help it and its not WRONG for you to want this emotional intimacy outside of bed..

    I guess what I'm trying to say is ..it might be a LONG time if ever you see what it is you want develop and it may NEVER be how you "imagine"..so in the meantime dont fall into an abiss of misery ..it will KILL YOU ..WORK on the problem BUT find the silver linign at the same time..as you go..Do NOT allow your self to be dependent on him for your core happiness or feelings of value/self worth..thats not even fair in the first place..And just like you cant "demand" passion out of someone sexually ..you cant "demand" emotional intimacy outside of bed..he apparrently doesnt feel the "urge" or desire..so you have to cultivate it somehow with him if HES willing..and I think counseling with the right counselor is your only hope..

    Dallas
     
  6. mkgal1

    mkgal1 His perfect way sets me free. 2 Samuel 22:33

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    I understand. ITA with you that it's a device our enemy is using to destroy families, and that the lie is being spread that "men are just like this". I am going to sit back and just read the other responses, as I don't really know the answer (but, I completely agree with Dallas on all that she posted).

    As far as counseling goes.....I don't know if you husband is characterized as saying things that he knows people want to hear, even if it's not true......if he is, I would "counselor shop" alone first, to find a counselor you feel comfortable with and one that understands a fear of intimacy. From experience, I've found that poor counseling can be worse than *no* counseling. If the two of you went to a counselor that didn't see this as an issue....your husband may feel vindicated to continue on in this way and say the counselor "diagnosed" this as YOUR issue---not his.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2012
  7. gabrielle2012

    gabrielle2012 Newbie

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    I have to preface this by saying YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY! I mean no disrespect, but have a completely different take than what I've read so far. And - we're practically neighbors. :) I live near Fayetteville & work in Manlius.

    I'm curious... did you have "emotional intimacy" in the beginning of your relationship? Did you realize that this was a potential issue? You are still newlyweds... could this be part of you two learning each other? It's sad that you're having issues when your marriage is so new!

    I confess that I actually had to look up what emotional intimacy is. Some of the articles you posted were kind of harsh towards men. I guess I have a different outlook on the subject. Men are not like women. They are hardwired differently. It goes beyond the testosterone right to the chromosomal level. For example, as an infant, my daughter cooed & made sweet little sounds... my son made growly sounds like a truck sometimes! I'm not raising them differently, but where my daughter comes to me and talks about her feelings, I have to actually draw my son out to get him to talk about his feelings & it's not always easy.

    My husband is a manly man. The things that attracted me to him are his strength, that he's a leader, his wonderful masculinity, that he's frank about things - plus he's sexy & handsome! Men like mine definitely process things differently than women simply because they're men (mine is definitely an alpha male.) I have learned to tell him that I'm not asking for him to solve anything when I just need to vent. Because his natural reaction is to think I'm asking for help when all I want is an ear. I have to remind him that sometimes I just need to be held - and roaming hands takes the affection out of it for me. He was really confused the first few times I pulled back from an embrace that was turning into sex, because men sex that as affection. For a woman, they are two different things. I truly believe that these things are just inherent differences in wiring. In his case, that wiring was reinforced by his upbringing, but I don't believe it was caused by it.

    Here's an example of different wiring--- when my MIL passed away, he only cried briefly. A week later he started tearing out the drywall in her old room (she lived with us) and redid the insulation, wiring, installed new drywall & painted. Man, I was confused! I called my Mom, completely baffled by his behavior. She told me that when my Gram died, my Dad repainted every room in their house! My Dad is definitely not what I would call emotionally unavailable. They process their emotions differently than we do. They need to act, to distract themselves from the pain. Do I think it's weird? Yeah! Really weird! But as my wise old Gram used to say, "It is what it is.... they're MEN." I think we need to stop expecting them to think like we think and have the same emotions as women do. The only men I know that are wired like us are gay.

    I guess I don't expect my husband to meet all of my emotional needs. I have a close relationship with my Mom, aunts, daughter & my best friend since high school. I have hobbies that actually help me if I'm feeling frustrated - nothing like metalsmithing to get a little anger out! I meditate & pray while I garden. I enjoy tending our chooks & peas with my son & sharing our love of books & NASCAR. I enjoy my work, volunteer work and life in general. My husband is my rock, my stability, my knight in shining armor, my Beloved, my lover, the love of my life & my soulmate -- I can't ask for more. I don't want to change my lion into a tabby cat.

    Sometimes in marriage you both have to compromise - find a middle ground where you can both function & be happy. Sometimes you just have to realize that men and women are different. I don't know the extent of your husband's emotional distance from you, and I may be totally out of line for your circumstances. Maybe I'm wired differently than most women! And maybe marriage counseling would be the best thing to do. I hope I didn't offend you. I just have a different perspective.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2012
  8. JaneFW

    JaneFW New Member

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    Right. This is good advice.
     
  9. mkgal1

    mkgal1 His perfect way sets me free. 2 Samuel 22:33

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  10. donnamabob

    donnamabob Newbie

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    I think that he probably would go to counseling. I guess I just wanted to exhaust some of our other options first. I'm starting to feel like counseling would be a good idea at this point.
     
  11. mkgal1

    mkgal1 His perfect way sets me free. 2 Samuel 22:33

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    True that trying to force intimacy is going to cause the person to retreat even further.
     
  12. LinkH

    LinkH Regular Member

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    donnamabob,

    So what does he actually do, or not do, that you are concerned with? One of the links described a man who didn't want to talk much with his wife. Does he not talk much with you? Has he always been this way? Does he come home emotionally drained after work.

    There is this TV show called "According to Jim" about a husband and wife that I've seen a few times. One day, the husband says to his wife, "Let's stay home and talk about our feelings?" I can't remember the exact context he said it in, but he was probably trying to pacify his wife about something, and it got a big laugh from the audience. That isn't the kind of thing a lot of men want to do a lot of. One of the posters here once said something about 'turning a man into a woman with different anatomy.' Women can't expect men to interact just like women do.

    I heard a man speak in church who gave seminars on marriage and things like that. He talked about his own parents who had some difficulties when his dad retired. The man's spent a lot of time at home, and his wife wanted talk with him. She said, "Let's have some tea." She'd sit across from him and talk with him, but he wouldn't say much. The son suggested she take him for a walk and try to talk. He said that when men interact, they don't sit around sipping tea looking at each other. They do stuff. So they went for walks together, and he started opening up and talking with her about things. It was a small thing, but doing an activity together helped them bond and got him more in the mood to talk. Maybe you two could do some things together that require a little action, movement, and maybe do something fun, that still gives you a chance to talk with each other.
     
  13. dallasapple

    dallasapple New Member

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    I think there is a HUGE difference in expecting that your husband is your identicle twin but in a man body..and wanting in speicific and REALISTIC and healthy ways a level of intimacy besides groping in between silence ..or having a converstaion with your spouse who is staring into space over your head with glazed over eyes..who cant even repeat what you just said to them because of some lame over exagerated excuse that "thats the way men are"...

    Its obvious at the very LEAST we have to understand even among the sexes we are ALL so very different..or else every man would just LOVE and enjoy the company of every other man(unless he was gay according to you ) and every woman would just LOVE and embrace the company of every other woman...(unless she was a lesbien I suppose?)...Our MAIN differences lie in HOW we were raised and our LIFE experiences...then its our gentics...then its a base line starting with any wiring from birth between the sexes...

    I think its completely absurd ..when a woman starts talking about emotional intimacy outside of bed to accuse her that shes execting him to be a "woman"..Or else NO MAN and woman would ever achieive it(an emotional connection of the MINDS through NON sexual communication ) and I have numerous examples I could give of MEN that arent GAY ..that have an interest in thier wifes thoughts and feeligns and a deisre to know them...as well as if you just look throughout history..some of the most deep and emotional WRITINGS in the form of poetry and philosophy of understanding OTHER human beings but starting with undertanding themselves are MEN.

    Then you said it.."maybe you are wired differently than most women"..thats insinuting what?YOU are more like a man?Well what a lucky guy your husband is I suppose...

    Good grief...

    Dallas
     
  14. donnamabob

    donnamabob Newbie

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    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond...

    I know that I cannot change him. I didn't understand it fully at first, but thankfully it only took a few months of failed attempts for me to realize that only God can change him.

    I see that this is certainly the case in our situation. I see that we are all naturally rooted in selfishness, and that it is only when we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us through his Word that we are capable of moving away from this tendency.

    Well put! I couldn't have said this any better myself, although I've certainly tried, during many of my failed attempts to make my husband understand what is happening to us.

    I will certainly keep these things in mind and pray for the strength and ability to recognize any and all attempts that he makes. A problem that I'm recognizing now is that he's trying to take the resources that I send him and turn them into a "formula" in which he can use to MIMIC the actions of a caring husband. It's becoming difficult to sort through genuine attempts, and "copy-cat" attempts. (for example: I'll be sharing my heart, and he'll be responding, but then I'll ask him to repeat what I said and he can't because he wasn't actually listening or caring)

    You make such a helpful point here. I really am trying very hard to not fall into an "abiss of misery", because I've witnessed older ladies in my life do that and live in that state for 30 or 40 YEARS. Goodness, I refuse to be that person! I've been listening to a lot of Joyce Meyer podcasts lately because she is helping me to learn how to be happy (through the Lords help) despite whatever circumstances I'm living in. I do agree that counseling is the answer in our situation. If there was any hope of him changing through other resources, I think I would have seen at least a little tiny indication of progress by now.

    Thanks again for your response, I really do appreciate it, and it really is so helpful to talk about it.
     
  15. donnamabob

    donnamabob Newbie

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    This is a good point, I too have seen situations where people would have been better off if they had not seen a counselor at all. My husband has a tendency to not say anything at all. He's terrified of opening up, terrified of peoples reactions, incredibly insecure in general. When he's pressured into a situation where he has to open up, he keeps it vague, but I've seen him try to twist situations to take the pressure off of him, and grab hold of any kind of excuse imaginable to justify his behavior, and keep from having to deal with it.
     
  16. donnamabob

    donnamabob Newbie

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    Hi Neighbor! :wave:

    I'm not sure if what we had was "emotional intimacy" or if it was just the excitement of a new relationship. To be honest, I felt so strongly that he was "the one" that I figured we'd have to work through any issues that come up. I still am 100% convinced that he's "the one" ... and I guess this is just the part where we have to work through those issues.

    I know that men are not the same as women, and honestly, I'm not looking for him to be a woman. Interestingly enough, I've read that in studies of infants, baby boys proved to be more emotionally responsive. I don't know if there's any truth to that, I don't even know where I read it.

    Jesus is both a lion and a lamb.

    I really do appreciate your perspective. Honestly, I think that my husband is way less emotionally functional then the average man. And I agree, I think counseling really is the answer here. Thanks for your thoughts :)
     
  17. dallasapple

    dallasapple New Member

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    I second that caution..there are good counselors and bad counselors..and there are good counselors but arent a good FIT for you as well..

    With your husband if you can convince him to go ..its better to be prepared you may have to switch counselors..or at the very least..expect that it could take several sessions of more for him to feel comfortable talking..

    One thing that shocked me..when we went ..I thought i would have to be told to be quiet and let him talk..I SWEAR my husband started like a motor running before his butt even hit the couch and he HOGGED LOL..the bulk of the sessions and i swear would say towards the end 'can i get the last word"???..THEN not surprising to ME he REQEUSTED that the counselor TELL me(though she never suggested its a routine or standard issue at all) that "we"(meaning I) not discuss AT ALL anything talked about in counseling at home.. :doh:

    IOW like UM teacher! teacher...um will YOU teel HER to shut up about all this when we are alone?

    And Im telling you he said some things..like they were point of fact "statements" of truth ACCORDING to him that i completely DISAGREED WITH..fundamental stuff ..like "Im a simple guy.Im very easy to understand..SHES the 'complicated one"..

    Im like (my mouth HANGING open in disbeleif he actually beleives that)..then Im supposed to not say a word about that unless its in the 45 mintues once a week session?...uh uh..no way...

    anyway Im saying you might be surprised if he does open up..it coud be diareah of the mouth..and you may not like what you hear..

    Dallas
     
  18. dallasapple

    dallasapple New Member

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    JESUS IS BOTH THE LION AND THE LAMB!!!!


    SLAM DUNK HONEY AND RIGHT ON!!!!!!!

    Dallas
     
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  19. donnamabob

    donnamabob Newbie

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    Thank you for responding.

    It's not that he doesn't talk, he'll talk my ear off about any kind of surface subject, but the second the conversation goes below the surface, he shuts down entirely. He literally will not say a word. I've seen tears well up in his eyes, but a word will not leave his lips. He's terrified, and it was always this way with us, so I know that it wasn't something that I did to put him in that state. I see that his father is this way as well, so it's no surprise where he learned it. It took me awhile to even know for certain that he had feelings in there at all, and I've struggled with the idea that he may have a personality disorder. I don't believe that he does, but I have wondered.

    I don't expect him to interact in the way that a woman does. However, I have a hard time believing that God would give women emotional needs that men are literally incapable of fulfilling.

    That's a good idea, I mean, I see that men are not the same as women, but I really do believe that they are not as different as society is trying to lead people to believe. How do I know this? By the fruit in which it produces. Anyway...I'll try this, I'll try to talk to him while we're doing something instead of just sitting around. My husband did mention that he likes to walk while he "thinks", so maybe you're on to something here :)

    Thanks again.
     
  20. donnamabob

    donnamabob Newbie

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    LOL I'm not taking any credit for that one, there's no way I would have thought of that if the Holy Spirit didn't bring it to my remembrance! :thumbsup:
     
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