A lonely guy walks on a sand dune - the disconnect man.
Relationship Basics

5 Ways To Handle An Emotionally Unavailable Man

Realizing that there is a disconnect in your relationship is somewhat like a slap to the face. One day you look up from your computer screen to notice that instead of stopping to kiss you hello on his way in the door, your hubby walks right past you to the fridge to grab himself a beer. Whack! It hits you. You have an emotionally unavailable man.

Often times our first reaction when we feel this disconnection, is to do whatever we can to seek more from the other person. Elizabeth Gilbert summed it up perfectly in Eat, Pray, Love

“In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

When a relationship is in its early stages, we are living in the moment and yearning to get to know each other fully. Even in the first years of marriage, we are growing together, learning about each other and what makes each other tick. We are enjoying each other’s company and exploring new things. It’s exciting. It’s exhilarating. It’s sexy.

As time goes on and our lives start to change, we live more in our heads. Dominated by the stresses and demands of everyday life. Our days are full of emails, work obligations, and the needs of our children. Our predominant focus shifts from excitement and attentiveness to disconnection. We think we already know who the other person is to the depths of their soul, and because of this, we ultimately take them a bit for granted.

Instead of taking the time to stop and truly understand what our partners are telling us or showing us, we make our own assumptions about how they are feeling. We don’t make the effort to truly connect.

Pay Attention

Distractions of the modern day tech world are debilitating to relationships. Almost everyone has their face stuck in their smartphone. We are busy Instagramming our lunches, checking up on our Facebook friends, or reading the latest political mumbo jumbo on Twitter. How many of you are guilty of spying on social media profiles that you really shouldn’t be?! How many times have you found yourself having to ask your loved one to repeat themselves because you were too busy to actually listen?

“Instead of taking the time to stop and really understand what our partners are telling us or showing us, we make our own assumptions about how they are feeling.”

I get it—the struggle is real. The dog needs to go to the vet. The car needs new tires. The kids dominate your attention—especially if you have infants and/or preschoolers.  

My therapist, Dr. Crane, who you’ve heard me mention before, told me he gives me a “MOPS” diagnosis. Mom of Preschoolers. Basically, moms of preschoolers should be getting some kind of emotional support because it’s just so damn hard!

When you’re feeling disconnected from your partner, it’s simply a sign from the universe that it’s time to dig in your heels. Really focus on the energy you both are putting into your marriage. Life happens, shit happens. It’s hard. But if you are able to focus—even just a little—on your relationship, everything will start to get better. I promise you!

Talkspace

This article has some amazing tips, which are great in theory, but not always easy to implement and change bad relationship habits. I consider myself to be a self-actualized person but what really helps me is to get a tune up. I love the new e-therapy craze, which allows you to connect with your chosen therapist via chat, anytime, anyplace. For those of us busy moms, this is a lifesaver!! You can hope on a quick 30-min catch up with your therapist anytime and chat through things that might be bothering you. Nobody has to know about it and you’re doing it from the privacy and comfort of your own home. What’s not to like? Talkspace will only cost you $32/week. Seriously? Give it a bash, you will be glad you did!

“Feeling disconnected from your partner is simply a sign from the universe that it’s time to dig in your heels and really focus the energy you both are putting into your marriage.”

Here are my—tried and tested—top tips to help you press the reset button and reinvent your relationship to feel closer than ever.

1. Take Responsibility For Your Stuff

Relationships carry equal responsibility—If there is something amiss, it can never just be one person’s fault. Rather, is always a mutual disconnect between two people in love. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking, even obsessing, of all the things your partner should be doing differently. But to put the entirety of the blame on one person is just not fair!

Having said that, you should both be on board and committed to making changes. It will take both of you making a daily effort to change for this to work in the long term. I am going to give you my best tips on how to make changes. If you want to see change in the world, you have to start with yourself, right? And since you’re the one reading this, let this be your mission to connect with him again and pave the way for positive change.

Implementing just a few of these techniques into your relationship could change it dramatically for the better.

“If you want to see change in the world, you have to start with yourself.”

2. Try Reflective Listening

Dr. Jenn, host and lead therapist from VH1’s Couples Therapy says the following about changing the way you connect with your partner:

“Try reflective listening. Reflective listening is repeating back to your partner what he or she just said using your own words. Often when couples fight they are so busy constructing their next argument while their partner is talking that they don’t really listen to what the other person is saying. For example, “Let me see if I understand you correctly. When I yell at you, you find it threatening and it makes you feel hurt and scared?”

Feeling heard in a relationship is vital to good communication.

Marriage advice, relationship advice, emotionally unavailable man, marriage, couple

3. Let him take the reigns

I think it’s a fair generalized statement to make about women that we tend to be a bit controlling in relationships, certainly more so than men are. When you do everything for your man, and are always the one to take charge, it can leave your man feeling emasculated.

Go do that thing he’s been asking you to do, even if it’s not really your cup of tea. Or if it’s something he’s been wanting to do with his buddies, encourage him to go do it. With my husband, he is such a homebody and works all the time that he puts zero energy into making arrangements with the boys. But it’s important for men to connect with other men. I find myself actively trying to support him in doing things for himself that he enjoys but doesn’t prioritize himself.  

Your Man will appreciate the effort you’re making and I guarantee will make him feel more connected to you knowing you’re willing to try.

“When you do everything for our man, and are always the one to take charge, it can leave your man feeling emasculated.”

4. Give Him your Time

This sounds pretty obvious, right? Still, I think we all need reminding of this once in awhile. My top tip is Saturday mornings: We get the kids up, and give them breakfast and cartoons! Now for those anti-television peeps, ain’t nothin’ wrong with anything in moderation— and happy parents = happy home! This gives us at least 10 minutes. Sigh. Truth: one of those little nuggets of joy is going to come up and want something, so if you shooting for sexy time, lock the door 😉

For us, mostly we just chill, drink tea (me) and coffee (him) and chat. We catch up on anything we want to chat about. I love this time with him and it really helps us to connect! It’s special to both us because it’s our time to connect that doesn’t involve anyone or anything else.

Give your man your time! It sounds cliché, but it is the backbone of a relationship, a family and happy life together.

“Give your man your time.”

5. Praise Him

Focus not on the fact that you’re agitated that he seems a bit off lately, but rather on the fact that he remembers every Wednesday to take the trash cans out (True story! I swear I would never remember and we would never get our trash collected!).

Let him know you appreciate him taking the kids to the park on a Sunday morning so that you can indulge in some peaceful alone time with your book. Tell him that the thing he did in bed the other night really blew your mind. It’s important to make your guy feel needed and appreciated. Men seek reassurance from us, just as much as women do, even if you don’t realize it.

What we should try to do is to focus more on pointing out the things our man does that we appreciate, rather than always focusing on the things we are unhappy about.

Gratitude and appreciation is the greatest opportunity to completely change the energy of a situation. In relationships this tool is insanely powerful; not just because of what it does for your connection with the other person, but for what it does for you.

“Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly.”—Tony Robbins

Last Thoughts

I always say to my husband that we need to be a team. Being a team means turning towards each other and both being committed to making changes. While you’re having some couple alone time on a Saturday morning, make a list. Brainstorm what needs to be done differently. What new things would you like to do or see? Listen to each other. Take the time to understand and feel what the other person is feeling. See it from both perspectives.

“Being a team means turning towards each other.”

Tell us what works? Spread the love by commenting below! I would love to hear from you on how this article prompted positive change for you and your Man!