“The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference”. This is a common truth among counselors who will also tell you that it is also one of the main causes why a couple satisfactorily married for so many years finally decides to part ways for no apparent reason. If you believe that you are facing such indifference from your husband and before it can do further harm to your marriage, here are a few things you can do.
It has potential for breakup
Many spouses assume that if they are not angry or overtly mad at each other, then there is no real reason to worry. But indifference may be even worse since it signifies such an extreme state of disconnect that you are past caring about each other. When partners aree angry, frustrated, or even fighting regularly, they are often doing so because they are still invested enough in their marriage and in their spouse to feel these emotions. But indifference means something else entirely and potentially more dangerous. On the face of it may seem preferable to angry confrontation since there is less of over conflict. But there isn’t much emotion either and this can be a real problem in a marriage.
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Recognize the difference
Some people aren’t very demonstrative with their emotions – they prefer to keep their feelings to themselves and only very rarely express them in explicit words and gestures. In fact men in many cultures are taught that it is unmanly to show your true emotions. However on most occasions, it is easy to tell a subdued temperament from indifference. When a spouse is indifferent, it’s not that they’re not showing their emotions, it’s more likely that they are not experiencing them -at least with you. One way to recognize indifference in a husband is to go back to the beginning of your relationship. If your spouse was then free with his love but now seems to be unavailable, it could have to do with the state of your marriage. Also you may see your husband interacting very differently with his friends or with the kids; in other words, much of the time, his indifference is reserved for you.
Avoid putting him on the defensive
A husband who cannot be bothered to feel anything in a marriage can be difficult to draw out in a conversation. So if you ask him why he is indifferent to the marriage or no longer cares for you, he may simply respond by denying that anything is wrong. He may in turn ask why you’re getting so upset when he hasn’t done anything or the two of you aren’t fighting. When met with such a wall of indifference, it is easy to be tempted to want to engage your husband anyhow, even to the point of making him angry since you may feel any emotional reaction at all is better than no reaction. You would much rather that your spouse be mad at you and argue with you than to ignore you. While your motivation is understandable, this is a wrong way to go about it. Questioning your husband about his indifference, putting him in the dock for the doldrums in your marriage will not only get the conversation nowhere but only push him further away. Instead show interest in your husband, make an effort into knowing what your partner is doing, thinking or planning these days. He may be considering taking up a course or visiting out-of-town relatives - plans that you would know nothing about unless you ask. Don’t worry if he gives only monosyllabic replies initially – it might take a while for him to get the conversation going; but once you make your interest in him evident, it is very likely that he will reciprocate by wanting to know more about what is going on with you.
Re-discover mutual interests
Yet another positive way to engage your husband in the marriage would be to get back to doing things which you both enjoyed in the earlier stages of your relationship. Think about all the things that brought you together in the first place – it could have been a fascination for Latin dancing or a love of early morning mountain biking. Find ways you can rediscover your enthusiasm for mutual interests. Get tickets to a game if you had met at a stadium or discuss a new restaurant in town if you both are foodies. Learn something new together so that you not only have things to talk about but rediscover aspects of each other you had long forgotten about. Once you start participating in common and enjoyable activities, it is likely you will find a rekindling of interest in each other.
Be aware of his physical presence
However hobbies by themselves are not enough to keep a couple interested in each other and their marriage. Once you have re-established communication and mutual interest, follow it up by creating the right conditions for intimacy and one of the first things you can do is to appreciate your partner physically. Among the things that couples begin to take for granted over time is physical appearance. Just like you tend to put in a little less effort to look good even when your partner is around, likewise you begin to notice him a little less. Make an effort to overcome this inertia and try to look at your partner anew. Observe what your husband is wearing and appreciate the mixing of colors or some aspect of his appearance. Talking about such specific things will throw open related topics like fashion trends, colors of the season and then maybe a tentative suggestion of a walk in the neighborhood park. The point of all this is to let your partner know that he is not invisible to you and that he is still worthy of your notice. This will help your husband to warm up to you and consequently encourage him to become emotionally invested in the marriage once again.
Ask yourself if you have been doing anything wrong
If you find a serious disconnect with your partner, make an honest analysis of the way you speak and behave with him. Perhaps you are overly critical of your partner’s habits or expect him to conform to too high a standard. Such unnatural expectations on your part may be stressing out your partner as a result of which he does not enjoy sharing things with you. Also ask yourself if you have been too busy with work or kids and have been ignoring, albeit unconsciously, your husband’s need for intimacy; as a result of this he may have felt hurt and gradually moved away. It is also possible that some kind of insecurity or inadequacy is bothering you which is why another person finds it difficult to engage in a healthy conversation with you; for instance, maybe you are always obsessing about your kids or weight when you are with your partner. Keep in mind that negative vibes, however unintentional, may have caused your partner to gradually pull away emotionally and eventually fall silent. If this is the case, you will need to overcome your inner impulses which are creating a field of repulsion.
If you cannot resolve the issues on your own, discuss matters with a trusted friend or a counselor. Only when you are healthy and positive in your own self, will others, including your husband, be drawn to your company.