Emotional neglect is when the emotional needs of an individual are disregarded or are not valued in a relationship. For the one on the receiving end of the neglect, it can be traumatizing and could harm their psyche. Unfortunately, emotional neglect in marriage is often swept under the rug, simply because it is not as visible as physical abuse. Some couples might not even realize that they are suffering from the effects of emotional neglect in their relationship.
Signs of Emotional Neglect in Marriage
The first thing you need to do is to identify the signs that you are suffering from emotional neglect in your marriage. As each marriage dynamic is different, its manifestations in your relationship are also different.
However, here are some tell-tale signs to look out for:
You feel alone in your relationship.
You would rather spend time alone than be with your partner.
You do not engage in social activities together.
You are shut down by your partner when you talk.
You constantly suppress your feelings
You don’t feel that you can be yourself around your partner
You are not clear what your partner wants from you
How Does Emotional Neglect Damage Relationships?
Emotional neglect is the bane of many marriages. The emotional connection between husband and wife is crucial to a happy and healthy marriage. When the emotional needs of either party are not met, it can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and resentment.
The best way to define emotional neglect is when one partner fails to provide the emotional support that the other partner needs, and vice versa. It is different from emotional abuse and should therefore not be confused for each other. Emotional abuse is when a spouse is doing things that can hurt their partner emotionally. On the other hand, emotional neglect is the failure to do things that promote emotional well-being in a relationship.
It is damaging to a relationship because emotional support is one of the core foundations to a successful marriage. When there is emotional support, affection and intimacy follows. And without affection and intimacy, both spouses will become unhappy. The level of emotional support in each marriage varies according to the different emotional needs of the individuals involved. Emotional neglect is contextually relative; the extent of what is defined as neglectful behavior varies on a case-to-case basis.
Tips to Cope with Emotional Neglect in Marriage
Is your spouse neglecting your emotional needs? These are some of the tips that you can apply to deal with this situation.
Don’t Play Victim
It hurts when your spouse is not fulfilling your emotional needs. However, there is no reason to play the victim card. If you do that, it will only worsen the situation. You end up in a blame game and that does no good for your relationship.
The best way to deal with it is to talk directly to your spouse. Let them know how you feel and where you think they are lacking. When talking to your spouse, make sure you do it in a respectful and honest way. There is no issue in a marriage that open and honest communication can’t fix. This is one of them.
Work Through it Together
A marriage is a two-way relationship. You can’t fix a problem if there is only one interested party. Both parties must make an equal effort at fixing a problem.
Once you open up to your spouse, you need to openly discuss and agree on what steps you need to take to fix the issue. To start, you can speak up whenever you see any signs of their neglectful behavior. That way, they will be able to identify when they are doing something wrong. Awareness of their behavior is a good start when correcting this issue in your marriage.
Address the Cause
When you encounter problems in your marriage, the first thing to do is to identify the underlying cause for such a problem. You can also use the same approach in this situation. Before you react to your spouse’s behavior, think about what could be causing it.
Is this a recent issue or has your spouse been this way since the start of your marriage?
Is it potentially triggered by an event or specific situation?
Has there been a sudden change in your spouse’s behavior?
If the behavior is triggered by a situation, then your chances of fixing it are far better than if it were part of your relationship from the start.
When you are suffering emotional neglect from your partner, it might be a good time to assess yourself too. Are you neglecting your partner in other ways?
Every individual’s needs are different. Some individuals value emotional support while others value sexual intimacy in a marriage. Whatever it is that is the priority of the individual, make it a habit to be aware of it and do your best to fulfill those needs the best way you can.
Make Time Together
Most problems in a marriage can be resolved by making an effort to spend quality time and doing something together. For example, you can travel together or have date nights once a week.
Marriage can be hard work. While you have this idea of a happily ever after, it cannot be denied that you will experience ups and downs in your marriage. By staying committed to each other, you can overcome these marital issues.
See a Counselor
A professional counselor is a great option if you want to resolve issues in your marriage such as emotional neglect. A counselor can provide an objective and outsider point of view of your issues.
The counselor can provide some insights into your marital issues that you might not be able to see since you are emotionally and directly involved in the relationship. The counselor can even suggest ways to resolve these issues by assessing the dynamics of your relationship.
A lot of couples are hesitant to see a counselor because of the stigma connected with it. However, there is nothing wrong with seeking help in order to work through your relationship problems, especially if it means saving your marriage.