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9 Practical Ways to Handle A Cold And Distant Spouse
Do you have an emotionally distant spouse? Do they often check out or refuse to talk about what’s bothering them? Do they get defensive or act coldly when you ask why the intimacy has left your marriage? Does your wife or husband ignore you and make you feel like you’re alone in your relationship?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then may be feeling like your spouse doesn’t care about you or that they’re no longer happy in your marriage.
In situations like this, it’s easy to feel like your relationship is falling apart. Is this really the case or does your spouse just need some time and space?
My name is Brad Browning and author of the bestselling program, “Mend The Marriage.” And today, I’m going to share with you some tips on what to do when your spouse acts cold or distant towards you.
As a relationship coach and marriage expert, I deal with these kinds of problems all the time. So if you’re feeling at fault for your spouse’s behavior or you’re regretting some of your actions, don’t worry. You’re not alone and I can help you.
Here are 9 things you can do when your spouse acts cold or becomes distant.
1. Respect your spouse’s differences.
When you and your partner first got together, you both had different ideas, stories, opinions, and interests. However, it’s likely that over the years some of your differences in opinions changed and they formed similar dislikes, likes, and outlooks.
For example, maybe you both started liking the same foods or picked up the same hobbies. And while some of your common interests maybe permanent, it’s possible that as time goes on, you and your spouse will form new opinions and that will create new differences.
Although we may sometimes forget, relationships require a profound respect for each other’s differences. It’s equally as important to note that having differences doesn’t mean that one person is right and the other is wrong.
If your spouse is acting distant, make an effort to respect their differences. Debating their opinions will only push them farther away. You don’t want them to feel attacked. Instead, celebrate your differences and accept that their opinions are what make your spouse who they are.
After all, they do say that opposites attract, right?
2. Don’t take it personally.
It’s important to understand that your spouse’s need for privacy or space may not be about you. In other words, don’t take it personally. Your spouse maybe going through a phase that requires some alone time or perhaps they’re battling inner demons. Whatever the case may be, realize that it’s easier to calmly invite closeness rather than angrily demanding it.
If your spouse is willing to share their feelings with you, be committed to talking through their issues sensibly. Ask the tough questions and never make their problems about you. Instead of thinking, “my husband ignores me” and then acting on the hurt and anger that causes, consider solutions. It will be much tougher to help your spouse out of their protective shell if you’re self-centered and inconsiderate.
3. Cool off the pursuit.
Oftentimes, when one partner is upset by their spouse’s cold or distant behavior, they’ll go into pursuit mode. And unfortunately, this only makes the situation worse. If you chase your spouse at times that they’ve made it clear that they want their space, chances are, they will only distance themselves further.
Instead, respect that your spouse needs some time alone and don’t pursue them. I know this can be tough to do, especially if you’re concerned about what’s going on. As tough as it may be, the best thing you can do is to stay positive and have faith that when they’re ready to talk, they’ll come to you.
By the way, if you have any questions about the topics I’m covering here, feel free to post them in the comment section below. I also offer one-on-one marriage coaching to a limited number of clients. If that’s something that you might be interested in, please visit my website to see my current availability and to register for that.
4. Lower your intensity.
Now, similar to cooling off pursuit mode like I just talked about, lowering your intensity is about being calm and patient with your spouse. So if you’re usually a loud, fast-paced person with a habit of talking over your or giving unwanted advice then you need to slow down. This doesn’t mean that your spouse’s behavior is your fault but simply that big personalities may not be the cure for cold behavior.
There are certain types of people that don’t respond well to this kind of high energy and your powerful personality could be why they’re turning away from the relationship. So, toning down your charisma can help your spouse feel more relaxed and at ease.
5. Give them space.
If you’re in the habit of always being at your spouse’s heels, then it’s time to back off a bit.
Hovering over your spouse or vocalizing your opinions about how they’re going about their routines can become a little bit claustrophobic. To avoid suffocating them, make an effort to stay out of their zone, bite your tongue, and simply let them be. If your spouse has made it clear that they need space, then respect their wishes.
People who act distant open up most freely when they aren’t being pursued by their partner. So, if you want to support your spouse then it’s best to let them have their time. This is perfect example of an instance where less is more.
6. Make a date, not a diagnosis.
If you find your spouse is acting distant and you’d like to reconnect, just suggest an activity to do together. Plan a few dates and put each other in your schedules. The best way to reestablish and emotional connection is by making your relationship a priority and spending quality time together. No matter how frustrated you may become with your spouse’s behavior, remember that they will always respond better to positivity than to scrutiny.
In fact, diagnosing their behavior is usually only going to make things worse. Avoid saying things like, “You’ve shut down” or “We don’t talk much anymore.” And instead of talking about not talking, just talk. Not only will it save you from an uncomfortable conversation but it’s also just much more productive in general.
7. Pursue your goals, not your partner.
It’s easy to become overbearing when your spouse is acting distant. This is why it’s so important to focus on you while they focus on them. Think about what hobbies or projects you have been wanting to take up and just go ahead and do them. Set some personal goals and tackle them.
Now is a great time to focus on the things you want to do. It’s also the best remedy for getting overly focused on your partner. As a part of your “you time,” lean on friends and to family to help sort out problems. Not only will talking about the situation help you to cope with it but it will also help to avoid unleashing any bottled up emotions on your spouse.
8. Act kindly.
Just because your spouse has become distant or cold doesn’t mean that you need to back off completely. You shouldn’t aggressively chase your partner but you can act kindly and do little things to make them feel loved. I know this may not be a revolutionary idea but it can have that kind of effect on your marriage.
In fact, a recent study by The Gottman Institute revealed that kindness is the single most important quality a person can have when it comes to maintaining a loving and healthy marriage. If your spouse is acting coldly, they could probably use a little pick-me-up whether they know it or not. So praise your spouse every chance you get and avoid criticizing.
Be considerate of their feelings and go the extra mile to make them smile. These small gestures of warmth will go a long way towards renewing your bond with one another.
9. Love unconditionally.
You can’t control your spouse’s behavior but you can control your own.
Regardless of how your spouse may be acting, you should always choose to treat them with love.
This isn’t easy when your partner is not reciprocating but it’s what you agreed to do when you vow to love one another for better or worse. And besides, nothing breaks down emotional barriers like unconditional love.
Accept that your spouse could be behaving this way for a number of different reasons. Perhaps they are struggling with feelings of depression or lacking self-confidence. Maybe they’re stressed at work or they’re feeling exhausted from day to day bickering. No matter the reason, don’t give up on them.
And before I wrap this up, I want to remind you that even the best marriages can go through phases where one spouse acts coldly or becomes distant.
When this happens, it’s important to remain calm and pleasant and positive. Don’t push your spouse or demand an explanation. Just simply be there for them and do what you can to make the situation better for both of you.
I hope you enjoyed this and that you have some new ideas for dealing with a distant spouse. If you’d like to hear more about what to do if your husband ignores you or how to save your marriage, please visit my website and watch the full-length video presentation I have up there.
And that is it for now. Thanks very much. I’ll see you next time.