Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Do you look forward to the moment you're a little less lonely only to keep your partner at arm's length?
Now that the honeymoon stage is over, it's not usual to find your partner shut down or pull away from time to time. But what happens when it becomes a pattern and you sense something more is going on? Emotional withdrawal is when one or both spouses pull away rather than being vulnerable with the other.
Some people fear that the relationship is one wrong turn from becoming controlling or hurting them.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not for those who find themselves in a dangerous domestic violence situation. If you are in a physically, sexually or emotionally abusive relationship in which you do not feel safe please call the national domestic violence at 1−800−799−7233. If this is an emergency, please dial 911 or visit your nearest emergency room.
Emotional withdrawal can vary in what it looks like; sometimes a wife will observe that her husband is home but "not actually there." You can see that their head is somewhere else or that they aren't actively engaged. In some marriages, one spouse may find that they're not able to receive the love and support the other spouse tries to offer them. In contrast, there are some spouses that find themselves in a dance of emotional hide and seek; where the deeper their connection becomes, the more they disengage.
Ideally, we would like to expect that marriage is two halves becoming whole, mutually meeting all of our needs for one another. Withdrawing has become a very common problem for most couples. Individually, withdrawal may be a form of protection, making you feel safe but this continued avoidant behavior can lead to a starved relationship longing for love.
Sometimes the best medicine for fear is to face it. "I'm afraid of being vulnerable and you want e to be vulnerable?" Yes, or rather; Avoid Avoidance (within reason, of course). Avoidance often gives more power to your fear than the relief of temporarily dismissing it.
Fortunately, you don't have to do it alone. Have a conversation with your spouse or partner to help hold you accountable. Ask how your behavior has affected your spouse? Becoming aware of how you influence your spouse can curb your avoidance. We can't unlearn what we know.
Consider doing some personal reflection as to why you withdraw from others? Carve out some time and ask yourself if this is an attempt to avoid rejection, being controlled, or fear of being judged? Maybe you're rethinking the commitment? Does your significant other know when they've upset you? Perhaps, you silently punish them for a hurt that's gone unnoticed? Take the time to understand how this behavior serves you can give you direction as to how to set healthier boundaries with yourself and others.
Imagine the benefits of becoming more present and connected with your partner in your relationship.
To work on insecurities that can fuel emotional withdrawal, you can seek out the support of your spouse and mental health professional. Couples therapy can provide a safe space for couples to gain the tools needed to problem solve and strengthen the connection.
For more information on emotional withdrawal or to talk to someone on how to make your relationship a more enriching and connected space contact Nicole from NMD Wellness Counseling LLC 407-986-1128.