Why isn’t my spouse paying attention to me?
If you feel like your spouse has suddenly stopped paying attention to you and your needs – you’re definitely not alone. The truth is the neglect could stem from disinterest, dissatisfaction, or boredom with you or the marriage OR there could actually be a really good reason for it like stress, illness, the death of a loved one, pet, or close friend, financial issues, and/or workplace drama. In other words, it may not have anything to do with you…
But, how can you know for sure?
You can’t unless he/she shares his/her thoughts with you. All you can do is take notice of the change in your spouse’s behavior and wait patiently until he/she feels comfortable enough to share any concerns with you. Waiting can take forever, I know. But, in the meantime, you can gently encourage him/her to open up to you – but don’t be pushy because that will only drive him/her further away from you.
The first thing you need to do is remind yourself that you really don’t know what’s going on at this point. In other words, you may suspect something is “off” with your spouse, but you can’t know for sure unless he/she tells you what’s going on. So, to avoid looking cold-hearted and angry; summon your inner angel and be sympathetic towards him/her and whatever he/she may be going through. It’s going to be challenging, especially if you feel like your spouse has been ignoring or dismissing you for a long time.
For instance, you tell your spouse you love him/her, but the sentiment is not returned. Or, you cook your spouse his/her favorite meal for dinner and he/she calls you and tells you he/she is going out with friends. I get it. And, although every situation is different, feeling like your spouse simply doesn’t care about you anymore is both frightening and heart-breaking. Thankfully, nine-out-ten times that’s simply not the case – your spouse loves you even if he/she isn’t showing it like he/she used to.
The worst thing you can do, however, is become needy, demanding, and/or aggressive – physically or passively. These tactics will only push you further apart, instead of getting you the attention you want. The key is communication. If something is bothering you in the relationship – talk to your spouse about it. The good news is there are things you can do to jumpstart the chemistry between you and your spouse again. It’s not over yet!
How Should I Address the Situation with My Spouse?
Let’s be honest – no one gets married just to be ignored. If that were the case, most of us wouldn’t go through the torment. Yeah, feeling ignored, dismissed, and neglected hurts like crazy, but luckily there are things you can do to encourage better communication.
Listed below are things you can do if you feel your spouse is neglecting you:
Get Out of Your Head!
This is probably one of the hardest things you will probably ever have to do. Getting out of your heard is hard – real hard. This is especially true when the person you love is ignoring you or excluding you from his/her life. Anxiety and depression are often just around the corner – lurking. That’s why the worst thing you can do is conjure up all the bad things that could be happening in your marriage.
“My hubby doesn’t love me anymore, so that’s why he spends so much time at work.” Maybe, that’s it OR maybe, he’s trying to work extra hours to take you on your dream vacay OR maybe, he’s simply trying to catch up on bills, but doesn’t want you to worry about it.
“My wife is bored with me, and that’s why she spends so much time with her sister.” Maybe, that’s true OR maybe, she simply enjoys the company of her sister, whom she has grown up with. There’s often a close bond between family members, especially between siblings, so maybe being with her sister feels like home and has nothing to do with her love for you.
So, what should you do if I if can’t stop thinking the worst case scenarios?
Keep going. Be your normal loving self and don’t allow your partner’s distant behavior to ruin your day – or life. More specifically, every time a depressing thought pops in your mind, replace it with a more positive one – from your marriage or just from your day or life.
What are you thankful for? What makes you truly happy? Once you determine that – focus on it. Happiness is contagious. So, if you are positive and happy, your spouse is bound to take notice – making it impossible for him/her to ignore you for too long.
Slow Your Roll
Slow my roll? Yes, slow your roll. In other words, take a break. Keep in mind that a “break” doesn’t have to mean moving out of the house or breaking up. It may simply involve not calling or texting your spouse until he/she initiates contact with you first. This gives him/her a chance to miss you.
Moreover STOP calling and texting your spouse a thousand times a day over nothing. Yep, nothing. This is especially true if you know your partner is super busy at work and if the job is super demanding and stressful.
Be considerate and give him/her a break. The truth is a less available spouse is an appealing one because its add an extra layer of mystery and longing to the relationship. More specifically, it causes your partner to wonder what you’ve been up to all day.
The best thing you can do for yourself, if you are feeling neglected, ignored, and/or abandoned is do you. In other words, be less clingy and more independent. More specifically, always have a “backup plan” for when your spouse just isn’t “there” emotionally or physically.
For instance, go grab drinks and dinner with co-workers after work, call up a friend or sibling and catch that movie you’ve been dying to see, volunteer at a non-profit like the Red Cross or an animal shelter, start a new hobby, spend time with those less fortunate, train for a marathon, start a new exercise routine, and/or focus on your health and hygiene.
Basically, surround yourself with people, who make you feel good about yourself. But, don’t throw yourself a pity party, because that’s just not attractive – and it’s not going to make your spouse spend more time with you.
Keep this in mind, it’s normal and healthy to have separate interests, friends, and activities. You are not joined at the hip, and you both had lives before meeting and marrying, so it’s time you got back to doing you. And, honestly, being independent from your partner helps keep you both grounded.
So, be available for your spouse – but not too available that he/she forgets how truly magical you really are. Your independence will remind your spouse just why he/she married you in the first place. Score!
Take a Long Hard Look at YOUR Behavior
It’s always easy to blame any problems in the marriage solely on your spouse. It’s his/her fault, right? But, before you go jumping to conclusions, take a minute to take a look at yourself.
Maybe, your spouse is ignoring or neglecting you because you said or did something that hurt him/her. Maybe, you forget your anniversary or maybe you were a little too friendly to the waiter or waitress the last time you went out to eat. These things matter – and hurt.
You won’t know until he/she shares this tidbit with you. Granted, you probably didn’t mean to hurt your spouse’s feelings, but what if you did? That would explain why he/she is now distant towards you.
Maybe, your clinginess, jealousy, bossiness, or aggressiveness is becoming overwhelming to your spouse – especially if you only recently started behaving that way. The truth is your spouse may just need a little breathing room every once-in-a-while. And, guess what? That’s perfectly normal and very healthy.
Tell the Truth!
Once the gates of communication have opened up and your spouse is ready and willing to share his/her concerns with you – tell him/her the truth. Don’t sugarcoat how you have been feeling or what you have been experiencing. Be open and honest. One of the best ways to work through issues is to be truthful about how you feel. But, leave the anger and resentment at the door. Just talk and listen to one another.
Don’t make assumptions and try to keep an open mind. After you have mustered your courage, ask your spouse why he/she hasn’t been spending much time with you lately. Tell your spouse that you feel ignored and neglected. Explain to him/her that it has been making you sad.
Ask your partner if it was something you said or did that pushed him/her away from you. And, reassure him/her that he/she can talk to you about anything and you will listen. Lastly, let him/her know that you are willing and ready to work on any issues together.
FYI: Your spouse may have no idea that he/she has been neglecting you or that it’s hurting you, so give him/her a chance to rectify his/her behavior before calling it quits. One of the hallmarks of a happy and successful marriage is good communication.
DON’T Divvy Out Blame
Okay, so we’ve talked about things you should do to reconnect with your spouse, but what should you not do?
Well, you should not divvy out blame that’s for sure. Whatever is happening with your partner and the relationship is two-fold, so blaming each other could lead you straight for a separation or divorce. Ouch. You both probably had some part in the disconnect. And, more than likely neither of you meant to hurt the other one.
Sometimes life happens that throws us off-track. The good news is we don’t have to stay off-track. The key is taking it day-by-day. Also, keep in mind that even if you do talk about what’s causing the distance and neglect, it doesn’t mean your relationship will immediately (or ever) go back to the way it “used to be.”
Maybe, it will be better or maybe it will just be different. Who knows? But, before you can do anything you both need to heal from what happened. You’ll need to work towards forgiving each other because, honestly, that doesn’t happen overnight.
And, let’s be frank – it’s not going to be easy. But, if you love one another and are determined to get back on-track with your marriage, it is possible. It’s really up to you and your spouse. But don’t rush each other. Be respectful and give each other the time and support you need to rekindle the passion you once felt for each other. It’s still there – just give it a chance.
Recouple? Yes, recouple? What does that even mean? It means reconnecting with your spouse. In other words, once you learn the reason for your spouse’s neglect, you can start working towards finding solutions for the issue(s) and reconnecting with one another.
Recouple with your spouse by carving out time together each day – i.e. eating breakfast and talking in the morning before work, and/or sitting down to eat dinner together each evening and talking about your day, interests, highlights, concerns, goals, needs, wants, and passions. Talk about what makes you – you!
Allow your spouse to express himself/her without interruptions. And, vice versa. Be patient – and kind. But, most of all – listen. Take a real interest in what your spouse is sharing with you. Plan activities and vacations, and sign up for marriage retreats, where you can recouple with each other and meet other couples, who are recoupling, as well.
Go on dates – dates you used to love before you got married. Don’t forget to get “dolled up” for them – they are special occasions, especially if you are parents. Remind your partner of just how much he/she means to you and how much you love him/her. And, re-spark the passion in your marriage by letting him/her know you are in it for the long haul.
Seek Emotional Support
If you’ve been feeling ignored, neglected, dismissed, and/or abandoned for a while now and nothing seems to be helping, it’s probably time you seek emotional support. Keep in mind, however, that it may take time to fully heal from the hurt and pain, but it’s definitely “doable” with commitment, time, patience, dedication, love, and respect.
And, because repairing your relationship is a marathon – not a sprint, seeking support will help you can remain strong, positive, and determined, while you work on reconnecting with each other.
One avenue not explored enough by struggling couples is marriage retreats. These sanctuaries are extremely beneficial for couples, who want to improve and strengthen their marriages. During this time, you and your spouse talk to relationship experts and other couples experiencing their own struggles – some like yours and some totally different.
Regardless, it is a good way to take a good look at yourself and your relationship through new lens – while making new friends and learning new ways of coping and resolving issues. Marriage retreats are not only relaxing, they can also help you remember just why you fell in love with each other.
You got married because you love one another and enjoy being around each other. Well, guess what? That core foundation is still there – even if it doesn’t feel like it. The truth is there may be times when you’re more in love with your spouse than he/she is in love with you and vice versa. That’s normal because love can be fleeting from time-to-time. But, most of the time, it’s only temporary.
Other times you both may be in love at the same time with the same intensity. All of this is normal. So, if you begin to feel neglected take pause, give your spouse space, be patient, be open and honest, be less clingy and demanding, be available to listen, be empathetic (as much as possible), and focus on why you fell in love with him/her.
Is your spouse’s behavior characteristic of who he/she has always been, but you’re just now noticing it? Is it possible you have been inadvertently neglecting your partner, as well, but just couldn’t see it? Think before your react and don’t come at your spouse when you’re angry, irritable, or frustrated because it will only push him/her farther away from you. Rather, try gentle nudges to open up communication. Then, work from there.
However, if you have tried everything including talking to people you trust, sharing your concerns with your spouse, and attending marriage retreats, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship. But, give your marriage 100% effort before you throw in the towel on years of love and memories. There’s always hope – you just have to grab hold of it!