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?
Do you sometimes feel like you’re alone in your relationship? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions then you 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. But is this really the case, or does your spouse just need some time and space?
My name is Kathleen Davis and today I’m going to share with you tips on what to do when your spouse acts coldly or distant towards you. As a relationship coach and marriage expert, I deal with these kinds of problems all the time.
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.
So, without delay, here are seven things you can do when your spouse acts coldly or becomes distant.
Number #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 and opinions changed to form common likes, dislikes, and outlooks.
For example, maybe you both started liking the same foods or picked up the same hobbies. While some of your common interests may be permanent, it’s possibly that as time goes on, you and your spouse will form new opinions 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 wrong.
If your spouse is acting distant, make an effort to respect their differences. Debating opinions will only push them further away, and you don’t want to make them feel attacked. Instead celebrate your differences and accept that their opinions are what makes your spouse who they are. After all, they do say that “opposites attract.”
Number #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 may be going through a phase that requires alone time, or perhaps they’re battling inner demons.
Whatever the case, 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. It’ll be much tougher to help your spouse out of their protective shell if you’re self-centered and inconsiderate.
Number #3: Call Off the Pursuit:
Often times, when a partner is upset by their spouse’s cold or distant behaviour, they’ll go into “pursuit mode.” Unfortunately, this only makes the situation worse.
If you chase your spouse at times that they’ve made it clear 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.
This can be tough to do, especially if you’re concerned about what’s going on. But, 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.
Number #4: Lower Your Intensity:
Similar to calling off “pursuit mode,” lowering your intensity is about being calm and patient with your spouse. If you are usually a loud, fast paced person with a habit of over talking 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 a 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 striding away from the relationship.
Toning down your charisma can help your spouse to feel more relaxed and at ease.
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Number #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. Hovering over your spouse or vocalizing your opinions about how they’re going about their routines can become 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.
If you want to support your spouse, then it’s best to let them have their time. This is the perfect example of an instance where less is more.
Number #6: Make a Date, Not a Diagnosis:
If you find your spouse is acting distance and you’d like to reconnect, suggest an activity to do together. Plan a few dates and put each other in your schedules.
The best way to re-establish an 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 respond better to positivity than scrutiny.
In fact, diagnosing their behaviour will only 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 an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s also much more productive!
Number #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’ve been wanting to take up, and do them. Set some personal goals and tackle them. Now is a great time to focus on the things you want to do, and it’s also the best remedy for getting overly focused on your partner.
As a part of your “you” time, make a point to lean on friends and family members for an outlet to rant. Not only will talking about the situation help you to cope with it, but it’ll also help to avoid unleashing any bottled up emotions on your spouse.
Number #8: Act Kindly:
Just because your spouse has become distant or cold doesn’t mean that you need to back off completely. Of course 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, healthy marriage.
If your spouse is acting coldly, then they could probably use a little pick me up… whether they know it or not. 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.
Number #9: Love Unconditionally:
You cannot 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 to do when your partner is not reciprocating, but it’s what you agreed to when you vowed to love each other “for better or for worse.” Besides, nothing breaks down emotional barriers like unconditional love.
Accept that your spouse could be behaving this way for a number of reasons. Perhaps they are struggling with feelings of depression or lacking self-confidence.
Maybe they are stressed with work, or are feeling exhausted from day-to-day bickering. No matter the reason, don’t give up on them. Before I conclude this article, 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. 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.