In this article we provide you with everything you need to know about emotional neglect in marriage, including the signs, effects, and ways to get help.
It’s easy to take your spouse for granted and neglect their emotional needs when you’re married. But emotional neglect can have a serious impact on your relationship, causing your spouse to feel isolated, unimportant, and unloved. If you’re not careful, this lack of emotional connection can slowly destroy your marriage.
Ralph and Penny
Ralph and Penny have been married for almost 20 years. In many ways they have a typical marriage. They both work. They make decent money. They live close to family and have many friends.
On the outside things look happy. But it is not that way in reality.
Ralph has never exemplified physical abuse against Penny. Instead, he often holds her hostage to his moods by giving her the silent treatment, and withholding physical intimacy. They have many relationship issues that should be addressed, but the core of their problem is the fact that he is a neglectful partner.
He refuses marriage counseling and doesn’t talk about their problems. Their relationship has all the classic signs of emotional neglect. We will talk about those signs later.
Ralph and Penny are not alone. It is difficult to find statistics on neglect in marriage. More studies need to be done. That said, it is clear that neglect is a leading factor in marriage dissatisfaction.
In any relationship, emotional neglect can be just as damaging as physical neglect. When one partner consistently withholds support, love, or attention, it creates an emotional distance that can be difficult to overcome.
In a marriage, emotional neglect can be a silent killer. When spouses stop communicating, sharing their feelings, or being emotionally intimate with one another, it can slowly erode the relationship. Over time, this emotional distance can lead to resentment, loneliness, and even depression.
What is emotional neglect?
Emotional neglect is a term used to describe a situation where someone close to you does not respond to your emotional needs. This can be a difficult concept to understand, as it can be hard to see how someone could possibly ignore your feelings. However, emotional neglect can happen in any relationship, and it is often more subtle than people realize.
There are many ways that emotional neglect can manifest itself. For example, if you constantly feel like your partner is never really there for you, even when you need them, this can be a sign of emotional neglect. Other signs include feeling like you are always the one doing all the work in the relationship, or feeling like your partner is never really interested in what you have to say.
The signs of emotional neglect in marriage.
Neglect in marriage can take many forms, but emotional neglect is often the most insidious. It can be hard to spot, because it’s often not overt. But over time, emotional neglect can erode your relationship, leaving you feeling alone, unimportant, and unloved.
If you’re not sure whether you’re being emotionally neglected, here are some signs to look for:
1. Your spouse doesn’t seem to care about your feelings.
You might feel like your partner doesn’t care about your feelings or what’s going on in your life. They might not ask you how your day was, or they might dismiss your feelings when you try to share them. This can make you feel invisible and unimportant.
2. Your partner doesn’t make time for you.
You might feel like your partner is always too busy for you. They might not have time to talk, or they might cancel plans at the last minute. This can make you feel like you’re not a priority in their life.
3. Your spouse doesn’t show you affection.
You might feel like your partner doesn’t show you any affection. They might not hug you, kiss you, or touch you. This can make you feel unloved and unimportant.
4. Your partner doesn’t listen to you.
You might feel like your partner doesn’t listen to you when you talk. They might not make eye contact, or they might interrupt you. This can make you feel like your thoughts and feelings don’t matter.
5. Your spouse doesn’t support you.
You might feel like your partner doesn’t support you when you need it. They might not be there for you when you’re feeling down, or they might not be interested in your dreams and goals. This can make you feel unsupported and alone.
If you’re feeling any of these things, you might be experiencing emotional neglect in your marriage. Below, we will discuss practical steps you can do to deal with the lack of emotional support in your relationship.
But first, let’s talk about how emotional neglect affects your relationship.
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The effects of emotional neglect in marriage.
A study done by Pnina Ron MA and Ariela Lowenstein PhD found that one of the major factors causing unhappiness in second marriages is unmet psychological and emotional intimacy needs.
Emotional neglect is defined as a pattern of ignoring or not attending to another person’s emotional needs. In a word, it is a relationship that lacks intimate connections.
This can take many forms, such as not providing emotional support, not showing affection, or not being interested in your partner’s life. While it may not seem like a big deal, emotional neglect can have a serious impact on a marriage.
One of the most common effects of emotional neglect is feelings of isolation and loneliness. When your partner doesn’t show interest in your life or validate your emotions, it can make you feel as though you’re invisible. This can lead to feeling like you don’t matter to your partner and that your marriage isn’t a priority.
Another effect of emotional neglect is feeling unimportant and unappreciated. When your partner doesn’t make an effort to connect with you emotionally, it can make you feel that you’re not a priority in their life. This can lead to feeling unimportant and unappreciated, which can erode self-esteem and lead to resentment.
If emotional neglect is left unaddressed, it can have a serious impact on a marriage.
How to overcome emotional neglect in marriage.
It is not uncommon for marriages to go through periods of emotional neglect. If you are feeling neglected by your spouse, there are some things you can do to overcome this issue.
Here are 7 steps to help you address the distance in your marriage.
1. Understand what emotional neglect is.
It’s easy to jump to conclusions and over react to disappointments, hurts, and wounds. These can happen in any relationship. When two people get together there is potential for disagreement and conflict. But it doesn’t have to be major.
Conflict is a part of life as we grow, discover, and learn how to connect with our spouse.
This is far different than emotional neglect. As we’ve mentioned, neglect reflects the trajectory of your relationship. To use a medical term, neglect is not acute (only happening once). It is chronic (happens consistently).
It is vital to know the difference. The remedy for miscommunication, minor offenses, and normal marital issues is different than how you deal with neglect.
As with any medical condition, the diagnosis needs to be correct before a remedy is provided. The same applies to marriage conflict. If you are experiencing neglect, these steps will help you address the issue with your spouse.
2. Talk to your partner about your feelings.
Try to communicate your feelings to your spouse. It is possible that they are not aware of how you are feeling and simply need some guidance. If you can express your needs to them, they may be more likely to make an effort to meet them.
Here are five steps to help you communicate clearly:
- Clearly articulate what you need from your spouse.
- Make sure that your spouse understands what you are saying.
- Give your spouse time to respond to your needs.
- Be open to hearing your spouse’s needs as well.
- Work together to find a solution that meets both of your needs.
I think in healthy relationships people are able to express their totality of their thoughts or feelings, but having that expression doesn’t always mean that your partner will agree with you, but will maybe you hear you out and understand you and respect where you’re coming from even though they may not share the same beliefs and thoughts.
When this is missing, it is easy to start the slow decline toward neglect.
3. Work on building trust and intimacy in your relationship.
The foundation of a healthy relationship starts with trust. Trust is theemotional security and safety we feel in the relationship.
Most neglect surfaces as a result of the lack of trust in the marriage.
Trust usually happens when we spend time with each other. There is no magic wand that creates security; it comes because we grow to appreciate our spouse and have confidence that they have our best interest at heart.
Begin to create trust by finding ways to connect with your spouse on an emotional level. This may involve taking some time for yourself to do things you enjoy, pursuing a hobby together, or just spending more time talking.
Also Read: 5 Things To Do When Trust Is Broken
4. Be patient and understand that change takes time.
Transformation is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. It requires patience and willingness to invest in your marriage.
It takes time to get to know someone and build a strong relationship. Being patient and willing to invest in your marriage shows that you are committed to making things work.
It can be difficult to keep up communication and intimacy as you both grow and change over time, but it is important to keep trying.
5. Make time for yourself and your own needs.
Self care is so important, especially during times of high stress and emotional instability. When we take care of ourselves, we are able to recharge and refuel our bodies and minds. This allows us to be better equipped to handle whatever life throws our way.
I call this making quality time for yourself. It’s not just about being alone for a while; it is about caring for your soul.
When we don’t take care of ourselves, we run the risk of becoming overwhelmed and bogged down. This can lead to negative consequences, both physically and emotionally. So, it’s so important to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves, both mentally and physically.
This includes things like eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. It also includes taking time for yourself to relax and de-stress. When we make self care a priority, we are better able to cope with whatever life throws our way.
If you don’t take time to make sure your needs are met, you will end up feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and unhappy. When you make time for yourself, you are able to relax, recharge, and be more productive.
Good decisions are easier to make when we feel healthy. Rash decisions are often the result of feeling overwhelmed.
Resource: Emotional Security in Marriage
6. Set boundaries with your spouse if necessary.
In any relationship, it’s important to have boundaries. This is especially true when it comes to your marriage. If you’re finding that you and your spouse are constantly arguing, it may be time to set some boundaries.
It’s important to communicate with your spouse about what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not comfortable with. If you’re not happy with the way things are going, speak up. Let your spouse know what you need from them.
It’s also important to be honest with your spouse about your feelings. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, tell them. If you’re feeling angry, let them know. It’s okay to express your emotions. Just be sure to do so in a respectful way.
It’s important to remember that you’re an individual, even when you’re married. You have a right to your own thoughts, feelings, and needs. If you feel like you’re not being respected, it’s okay to set boundaries.
Also Read: How To Safeguard Your Marriage
7. Seek professional help if needed.
Seek outside support if you feel like you are not able to overcome emotional neglect on your own. This can come in the form of counseling, therapy, or support groups. These resources can provide you with the tools you need to improve your relationship.
Final Thoughts on Emotional Neglect
While emotional neglect can be a difficult thing to identify and define, it is clear that it can have a very negative impact on a marriage.
In this article, we discussed the signs and impact that neglect has on a marriage. We also listed seven important steps to take if you feel neglected in your relationship.
- What is emotional neglect?
- The signs of emotional neglect in marriage.
- The effects of emotional neglect in marriage.
- How to overcome emotional neglect in marriage.
- 1. Understand what emotional neglect is.
- 2. Talk to your partner about your feelings.
- 3. Work on building trust and intimacy in your relationship.
- 4. Be patient and understand that change takes time.
- 5. Make time for yourself and your own needs.
- 6. Set boundaries with your spouse if necessary.
- 7. Seek professional help if needed.