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  • Writer's pictureAlan Jacobs

Emotional Abandonment in Marriage - How to Avoid and Treat It

In most cases, it’s not anger or strong emotions that destroy a marriage. It’s emotional abandonment in marriage or neglect. This means one or both partners withdraw to avoid conflict and convey disapproval by distancing or withholding attention or affection. This pattern often leads to one partner feeling unsupported, lonely, and rejected.

While it’s difficult to spot emotional abandonment in marriage in the early stages, having your bids for connection ignored are often telltale signs. It’s almost as if there’s an invisible barrier that you can’t break through to reach your partner.

When emotional abandonment in marriage exists, couples often stop sharing their feelings and become non-responsive and non-communicative.

In this excellent blog posting, Terry Gaspard writes, if the spouse who feels emotionally abandoned becomes a pursuer, a pursuer-distancer pattern develops, which is a leading cause of divorce. While all couples need autonomy and closeness, this dynamic leaves both partners chronically dissatisfied.

Whether a partner experiences emotional abandonment in marriage occasionally or often, it’s destructive to a marriage because it leads to one partner grasping for straws, feeling ignored and helpless, and questioning what they did to upset their spouse. It’s a clear defense mechanism on the person’s part inflicting silence and emotional pain on their partner.

How can you and your spouse avoid and treat emotional abandonment in marriage? Here are some ways.

1. Establish an honest and open line of communication

2. Turn toward your partner and avoid withdrawing when you feel upset

3. Avoid the pursuer-distancer pattern

4. Practice Self-soothing when your spouse is stonewalling

5. Avoid playing the role of a victim

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