Emotional Neglect in Marriage - What It Is and How to Overcome It

young couple ignoring each other in bed

No relationship is perfect, don’t we all know it, but that’s no reason to avoid seeking ways to improve your relationship and iron out the things that leave you feeling hurt, anxious or lonely. And, you guessed it, those are the exact kinds of feelings emotional neglect will evoke.

Emotional support and connection are some of the hallmarks of a successful marriage. So what happens when that’s gone? You start feeling like you’re undervalued, your feelings don’t matter and you don’t have a shoulder to cry on. That’s the perfect breeding ground for more and more marital issues. 

When you pictured your married life, you probably weren’t expecting it to become a ‘’neglected ever after’’ story. So, how do you overcome emotional neglect in marriage and communicate with your partner? How do you even know if you’re being emotionally neglected? Let’s explore!


What Is Emotional Neglect in a Marriage?

In simple terms, emotional abandonment is the absence of emotional support, validation, and responsiveness from your partner. It can take many forms, such as ignoring your emotional needs, dismissing your feelings, or failing to show empathy and understanding. 

If you’re in a long-term relationship with someone who constantly belittles or disregards your feelings, you’ll likely start feeling lonely, disconnected, and unimportant. This basically means you’re in a toxic relationship. And nobody wants that. But if you’re still unsure if this is what you’re experiencing, let’s look at some common signs of emotional neglect and help you identify your issue.

neglect in marriage, the man is holding the phone and the woman is sitting facing the other side

Recognize the Signs of Emotional Neglect in Marriage: Top 10 Red Flags

Emotional neglect in relationships can be difficult to recognize, as it often involves a lack of action or attention rather than overtly negative behavior. It’s pretty much a silent killer of your relationship. But still, there are certain red flags that can help you recognize neglectful behavior, so let’s check them out.

  1. Feeling constantly lonely or disconnected from your partner
  2. Feeling like your emotional needs in a relationship aren’t being fulfilled
  3. Not feeling heard or understood
  4. Having to walk on eggshells around your partner
  5. Feeling like your partner constantly prioritizes other things over your relationship
  6. Your partner showing a lack of interest in your life or what’s important to you
  7. Feeling like your partner doesn’t express love or affection toward you
  8. Your partner doesn’t validate your feelings or experiences
  9. Not feeling safe enough to be vulnerable with your unsupportive partner
  10. Feeling like you’re the only one putting effort into the relationship

If these are things you’re struggling with, don’t sweep them under the carpet – these feelings are completely valid. Ignoring the issue can lead to long-term emotional damage and potentially even the breakdown of your marriage.


A Real-Life Example 

Picture this: You’ve had a rough day at work, and you come home looking for comfort and support from your partner. As you start sharing your feelings, your partner seems distracted and uninterested. They’re not making eye contact, or they’re looking at their phone or the TV while you’re speaking. They respond with short, dismissive answers like “That’s too bad” or “Just forget about it.” Are they even listening? 

Over time, you’ll start feeling like your emotions don’t matter and your partner doesn’t care about your well-being. Sounds familiar? Well, this is one of the clear examples of emotional neglect in marriage, and it can lead to emotional disconnect, resentment, lower self-esteem and many other not-so-pleasant feelings.


The Impact of Emotional Neglect on Your Marriage

Besides the occasional headache or crying session, feeling neglected by your husband can have much more serious consequences. After all, neglect is a form of emotional abuse. As such, it can take a significant toll not only on your relationship, but on your own mental and emotional well-being as well. 

  • Decreased intimacy and connection: You may feel like you’re not as close or connected to your husband as you used to be. It can be hard to feel loved and cared for when your partner ignores your needs.
  • Communication breakdowns: You might feel like your partner just doesn’t understand you or like they’re not really listening when you try to talk to them. And one-sided communication simply isn’t a good basis for a healthy relationship.
  • Frequent conflicts: When you feel emotionally neglected, it can be easier to get into disagreements and fights with your partner. The tension and frustration can build up and make it difficult to get along.
  • Negative self-talk: You might start to doubt yourself and your worth in the relationship. Feeling like a neglected wife can lead to negative self-talk and self-doubt, eventually destroying your self-esteem.
  • Mental health concerns: All of this can take a toll on your mental health and result in anxiety, depression, or general unhappiness.
  • Overall decline in marital satisfaction: Emotional neglect can ultimately lead to a decline in overall marital satisfaction, making it challenging to feel happy and fulfilled in your relationship.

couple fight on a bed, emotional neglect in marriage

How to Address Feeling Neglected in a Relationship

You can read all the advice columns, listen to all the mental health podcasts and take all the online quizzes, but none of it helps if you don’t address the issue head-on. Besides, ignoring the issue only makes resentment grow. 

So, the best place to start when trying to save your relationship is – drumroll, please – honest communication! Let me give you some steps your should take on the road to marriage recovery.


Acknowledge and Express Your Feelings

First things first, you have to acknowledge your emotions and give them the attention they deserve. It’s okay to feel neglected, and it’s okay to express your feelings to your partner. Don’t feel guilty for needing more emotional support from your husband. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again – your feelings are valid.


Express Your Feelings in a Healthy Way

Communicating with an emotionally neglectful partner can feel like talking to a brick wall, especially if you’re met with the oh-so-famous silent treatment. But if this is just a rough patch, there are ways to approach the conversation that can help increase the chances of your partner understanding your perspective.

Firstly, it’s important to approach the conversation at a time when your partner is likely to be receptive. This might mean waiting until they’re in a good mood or not distracted by other things. 

When you’re ready to talk to your partner, remember to use “I” statements and focus on expressing your feelings rather than pointing fingers or placing blame. 

For example, instead of saying, “You never listen to me,” try saying, “I feel unheard and unsupported when I try to talk to you about my emotions.” This will make for much more productive and constructive conversation. If your partner is emotionally closed off, feeling attacked will probably make them even more reserved and disconnected.


Practice Active Listening

Listening actively to your partner’s response is also important. It can be hard to hear criticism or acknowledge that your actions have hurt someone, but listening with an open mind and heart is essential. Remember that your partner’s emotions are just as valid as yours, and you’re working together to find a solution that meets both of your needs.

Give your partner the space to say their piece, but be wary of any gaslighting or deflecting techniques. Try to remain focused on the issue at hand and have control over the conversation.

Invest in Your Personal Growth 

Remember, you have the power to take control of your own happiness and well-being. While teamwork is vital in a relationship, it’s also essential to empower yourself, and invest in your personal growth. Recognize that you have the ability to shape your own happiness and well-being. Consider pursuing personal goals, learning new skills, or engaging in personal development activities that bring you fulfillment and enhance your self-esteem.

Reclaiming your worth and nurturing yourself in an emotionally neglectful relationship requires self-compassion, self-care, and effective communication. By acknowledging your feelings, indulging in some “me, myself, and I” TLC, and investing in personal growth, you can cultivate a stronger sense of self and create a healthier relationship dynamic down the road.

So, approach this process with a willingness to make changes and compromise. This may involve setting new boundaries or finding new ways to connect emotionally. It won’t be easy, but if you and your partner are committed to improving your relationship, you can work through these challenges as a team. After putting in the hours, hopefully, you’ll be able to get back on track and bring that spark back to your relationship.


Consider Seeking Professional Help 

Since emotional neglect can put a big strain on the relationship, sometimes it’s hard to make progress and solve this issue on your own. If it’s come to that, you might want to consider getting help from a mental health and relationship professional. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help. 

A supportive program and empowering webinars can equip you with the tools and guidance you need to navigate these challenging emotions and embark on a journey towards a healthier and happier relationship, even if your partner is not yet on board.


The Importance of an Emotional Connection

Emotional connection is everything in a healthy marriage. It’s what makes a relationship feel truly alive and fulfilling. When you’re emotionally connected with your partner, you feel seen, heard, and valued. 

But when emotional neglect creeps into your marriage, it can be incredibly painful. It’s like you’re stranded on an emotional island with no one to turn to. This lack of emotional intimacy can lead to a sense of disconnection, loneliness, and even despair. 

But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many couples struggle with emotional neglect, but it’s never too late to start working on rebuilding that emotional connection. Let me give you some actionable tips for laying the emotional groundwork in your marriage. 


Tips for Fostering an Emotional Connection

  • Practice active listening: Take the time to really listen to your partner when they’re talking to you. Put away your phone and other distractions, and give them your full attention. Try to understand their perspective and show empathy for their feelings.
  • Express gratitude and appreciation: Take the time to acknowledge and thank your partner for what they do for you. Small acts of kindness and appreciation can go a long way in strengthening the emotional connection.
  • Never stop dating: Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you should stop taking each other on fun dates. It’s important to spend quality time together without any distractions. This can be as simple as going for a walk, cooking a meal together, or having a cozy movie night. The key is to be present and focused on each other. 
  • Practice vulnerability: Being vulnerable with your partner can be scary, but it’s essential for building an emotional connection. Share your thoughts, feelings, and fears with your partner, and encourage them to do the same.

man surprising his female partner with breakfast and gifts in bed

Can the Marriage Survive Emotional Neglect?

If you feel neglected in a relationship, you might be feeling pretty down in the dumps right now. It’s tough to feel like your partner isn’t meeting your emotional needs. But take heart – there is hope! With some effort and readiness to work together, many marriages can be saved. However, emotional neglect can be a symptom of deeper issues, such as poor communication, unresolved conflicts, or mental health issues.

The first step is being honest with yourself and your partner about your feelings. Approach the conversation with an open heart and a desire to find a solution together. If they keep throwing up roadblocks or turn a deaf ear, as frustrating as this can be – don’t despair. Take a deep breath knowing there are still options and paths to explore. Seeking professional help can be a great way to get some outside perspective and guidance for finding the root of the issue. 

You deserve to be heard and understood, and there are resources and support available to help you navigate these challenges. Saving a neglectful marriage isn’t always easy, but it can be done. It takes time and effort, but the end result can be a stronger, more fulfilling relationship than ever before. So don’t throw in the towel just yet! 

With commitment and a willingness to work through the difficult times, you and your partner can come out the other side with a stronger, more connected relationship.


Get in Touch and Regain Your Sense of Power

Marriage should be uplifting, not an anchor weighing you down and making you feel like you’re drowning. If you’re not able to be your best self in your marriage, it’s time to change things up. 

As a relationship psychologist, I know that emotional abandonment in marriage can make you feel small and helpless, and fixing this issue can be very challenging. So I’m here to help you stand in your power again and reclaim the joy in your relationship. 

If you feel stuck and don’t know how to break through with your emotionally unsupportive husband, let me help! Claim your spot at my webinar and I’ll give you my 5-step game plan for saving your marriage in a matter of weeks. I’m here to help you reach your happily ever after – with or without your partner, whatever makes you shine the brightest.



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