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Home » Opinion » What To Do When Your Marriage is Growing Apart

What To Do When Your Marriage is Growing Apart

What To Do When Your Marriage is Growing Apart

October 21, 2017

You used to be able to tell your spouse anything. Over time, you learned what upsets your partner and you started avoiding those topics. Now you aren’t as open as when you first started dating. And the positive feelings that used to come naturally are harder to find.

Many of you are even wondering if having an affair or divorce is the answer to deal with your loneliness in marriage. But before you throw in the towel, let’s explore what contributes to this distance and how to address it.

While you probably won't ever fall in love with the same person twice, you can develop a new, deeper level of emotional intimacy with your spouse. You do this by working on your own reactions and behaviors that are distancing, so you are more emotionally present, open, and relaxed with your spouse.

Understand Emotional Distance

Emotional distance is a result of a pattern of interactions. It is a response to a perceived emotional threat and doesn’t occur without conflict. In other words, emotional distance is co-created in an attempt to avoid conflict or feelings of hurt and rejection.

Every couple develops some emotional distance the longer they are together. Most people try to work on their spouse’s distancing behaviors instead of their own. Typically, the more you try to get your spouse to understand your point, the more you end up pushing them away. 

Identify Your Part in Emotional Distance

But once you realize you play a part in growing apart, you can begin doing something about your own distancing. It’s so much easier to observe what your spouse does or doesn’t do that triggers you to pull away, and it’s much harder to observe our own distance. But becoming a good observer of yourself is the key to addressing your part in growing apart.

Here are some examples of emotional distance. Make note of the ways you distance:

• Always accommodating your spouse to keep the peace

• Using work, hobbies, substances, or an affair to avoid conflict with your spouse

• Turning to your kids for emotional or social needs more than your spouse

• Pretending to agree but doing what you want behind your spouse’s back

• Avoiding topics that upset your spouse

• Being present physically but tuning your spouse out

Now make note of what you do or feel that may result in your partner distancing from you: 

• Taking differences and moods personally

• Being critical or thinking you’re the better spouse

• Giving advice or diagnosing your spouse

• Trying to prove your point 

• Complaining to get your spouse closer to you

• Pressuring other to talk

If you record any of these ways of distancing, then you are probably having a hard time managing your reactions about your spouse. While you aren't the only one distancing, you'll get further working on your own distancing rather than trying to work on your spouse more. If you are stuck and unsure what to work on next, consider marriage counseling for one or both of you.

Marci Payne, MA, LPC, a resident of Lee's Summit, offers individual and marriage counseling at marcipayne.com. To schedule free 15-minute phone consult, call 816-373-6761 ext 2.

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