Detached Spouse


My husband and I just celebrated our first anniversary—but the honeymoon ended long ago. He’s become so detached. He doesn’t want to talk, we spend most of our time doing separate things, we argue more than ever, and he’s lost interest in me sexually. What can I do?


Unfortunately, many couples find themselves in similar situations. It’s a far cry from your dreams at the altar and a far cry from what God designed marriage to be.

There may be several contributing factors to your problem. If your husband’s more of an introvert and you’re more of an extrovert, you have two different ways of communicating, problem solving, focusing, and recharging yourself. Learning about personality types really helped us understand each other better, and we know hundreds of couples who’ve benefited from learning how to understand and value their partner’s uniqueness.

It also sounds as if you’ve gotten into the pursuer/distancer dance. It’s a common dance for many couples, without them even knowing it. In this dance, Partner No. 1 (usually the more extroverted one) approaches Partner No. 2 (usually the introverted one) with a desire to chat and relate. That seems harmless enough. But when Partner No. 2 isn’t ready to chat and goes into his or her cave, Partner No. 1 goes in after them. The more one pursues, the more the other distances, and after a few rounds you’ve perfected a dysfunctional and mutually frustrating dance.

It sounds as though he feels you’re more focused on what he’s not doing right. That may or may not be true. You say you’re desperate for change. Do you really mean that? Are you desperate enough to make a unilateral decision to change, regardless of what he chooses to do? Are you desperate enough to start every morning for the next 30 days reading 1 Corinthians 13, the “love chapter,” and asking God to help you apply it in your marriage? Are you desperate enough to stop focusing on how your needs aren’t being met and concentrate on how you can apply the New Testament in your marriage—especially the verses that talk about serving, building, nourishing, cherishing, encouraging the other person?

Many have found this simple approach a helpful first step. Give it a try. Once he sees you changing “the dance,” he may be more willing to discuss what’s really going on within him. And he may become more willing to change his attitude as well.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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