Lack of Emotional Intimacy in Marriage: 15 Alarming Signs to Look For

married couple upset at their lack of emotional intimacy; blog post title

A lack of emotional intimacy in marriage can be damaging. It starts small and can escalate if left untouched. In this post, you’ll learn how to identify these issues in your marriage.

Do you have an emotionally distant husband? Are you and your wife not emotionally connected? This post also discusses emotional intimacy and how it can affect a marriage.

I’ll also provide some ways to help you fix these issues at the end. I hope this blog post helps you restore your marriage!

What is emotional intimacy?

Emotional intimacy is the ability to share your thoughts, feelings, desires, and concerns with another person. In marriage, strong emotional intimacy means you can go to your spouse for anything.

What is a lack of emotional intimacy in marriage?

When emotional intimacy lacks in a marriage, you feel distant from your spouse. You don’t feel comfortable expressing your feelings or being vulnerable.

Feeling no emotional connection with your husband or wife can put a strain on a marriage.

couple sitting on the couch with a lack of emotional intimacy in their marriage

What is emotional abandonment in marriage?

Emotional neglect in marriage can lead to emotional abandonment. Simply put, you feel like your spouse doesn’t care about you. Your spouse is just a roommate rather than your life partner.

What causes a lack of emotional intimacy?

Let’s first take a look at how a lack of emotional intimacy begins.

Where do intimacy issues come from?

Willow House at the Meadows, which specializes in intimacy issues, wrote an article on this topic. They said that a lack of emotional intimacy could stem from:

  • “traumatic childhood experiences such as verbal, physical or sexual abuse
  • emotional neglect
  • substance abuse in the home
  • the death of a parent
  • or exposure to or experience of rejection.”
couple wondering what causes a lack of emotional intimacy in a marriage

What can hurt emotional intimacy in your marriage?

Consistency is the number 1 thing that can hurt emotional intimacy in your marriage.

Your marriage isn’t going to suffer if your spouse doesn’t listen to your feelings on one occasion. But consistently responding this way will lead to a lack of emotional intimacy.

What does a lack of emotional intimacy feel like?

Having an emotionally unsupportive partner can feel lonely. The one person who is supposed to be there for you…isn’t.

When the emotional connection is gone in a relationship, you don’t connect with your partner. This can be heartbreaking.

married couple with a lack of emotional intimacy in their marriage

Signs of a lack of emotional intimacy in marriage

Here are 15 signs of emotional detachment in marriage.

1. You don’t trust each other

When you’ve been hurt in the past, you’re less likely to trust. The same goes for your spouse. When there is no emotional connection in marriage, you feel like you can’t confide in your spouse. You can’t trust that your spouse will:

  • be there for you
  • respond with kindness to you
  • look out for you

2. You don’t feel appreciated

Do you feel like you give without ever receiving any thanks? Is it difficult to keep giving because you feel like it’s just not worth the effort?

This doesn’t mean your spouse doesn’t appreciate you. But when there is no emotional intimacy in marriage, showing appreciation is not the norm.

3. You aren’t met with kindness when you express feeling to your spouse

This doesn’t necessarily mean you are expressing feelings about your spouse. These can be feelings about anything. Your spouse is not exhibiting emotional intimacy if:

  • you are shrugged off
  • your feelings are put down

These are not kind reactions to your feelings and a sign that the emotional intimacy in your marriage needs some work.

marriage quote about a lack of emotional intimacy in marriage

4. You don’t look out for each other

In a marriage, you need to have emotional awareness of when your spouse is struggling. Maybe your spouse needs a break to decompress or just needs you to take care of dinner tonight.

Whatever it is, you need to look out for each other by paying attention to each other’s emotions. If you can’t spot when your spouse needs help, you won’t be able to be there for them.

And when your partner ignores your needs, you’re more likely to ignore theirs. It becomes a sad cycle.

5. You don’t listen

When your spouse comes to you with their feelings, do you listen? Your spouse will commonly have feelings about:

  • work
  • the house
  • the kids
  • your relationship

These feelings can be either good or bad, easy or tough. Is it easier to lend a listening ear when these feelings are about work instead of you and the relationship? Listening doesn’t mean you listen to one thing. You need to be able to listen to all of your spouse’s feelings.

Other posts you’ll love:

19 Lasting Ways to Build Emotional Intimacy in Your Marriage

To the Husbands Who Travel for Work: How to Connect with Your Wives

The Everyday Love Letter: How to Connect with Little Love Notes

6. You’re afraid to be vulnerable together

What does it mean to be vulnerable with your spouse? According to PsychCentral, it’s when someone can be themselves with another person. You are able to show all sides of yourself, both the good and the bad.

If you are feeling no emotional connection with your husband, how can you show every side of yourself? If your wife does not respond with kindness to you, you won’t be as willing to share everything about yourself.

couple wondering if a marriage can survive without emotional intimacy

7. You have trouble owning up to your mistakes to each other

When you make a mistake, are you able to admit it to your spouse? Do you feel comfortable owning up to your mistakes?

Why not? Could it be because your spouse hasn’t reacted well to your mistakes in the past? Or do you just avoid conflict with your spouse altogether? (more about this down below)

8. Arguments happen a lot more frequently

Are you and your spouse arguing a lot? Do you find yourself getting upset about little things? When you’re not able to talk about things with your spouse, it’s easy to let little things get to you.

Big conflicts in your marriage will sometimes affect the small moments in your marriage. This makes it hard to get through the day to day with your spouse.

9. You avoid conflict with your spouse

The flip side to arguing more is a complete avoidance of conflict. Would you rather bury your feelings than talk about them with your spouse?

I personally don’t like conflict. But when it comes to my marriage, I put forth the effort to have tough conversations. When I open up and allow conflict to be healthy, our marriage grows.

couple with a lack of emotional intimacy in marriage

10. You only talk about work and the kids

Have you forgotten that there is so much more to your marriage than work and the kids? Is it hard to find other talking points with your husband? Does your wife only seem interested in how the kids are doing?

When your marriage lacks emotional intimacy, it can be hard to talk about deeper topics. It’s easy to settle into discussing your to-do list. But can you tell your spouse how your day truly was?

11. You’re lonely

Life has it’s ups and downs. You are bound to feel lonely in any phase of marriage. But if you are consistently feeling a sense of loneliness, it might be a sign there is a bigger issue.

Once you get married, you are never truly lonely. You always have your spouse. There are times when you’ll both be busy and it’ll be hard to be there for each other. Has this become the norm in your marriage? Or do you let those moments pass and then connect again?

12. You’d rather be alone than with your spouse

Once the kids go to bed and you finally have some down time, what do you usually do? Do you find yourself retreating off to be by yourself? Or do you seek out your spouse to spend time together?

If you’d rather be alone then with your spouse, that’s a clear sign something is wrong. There could be more going on here beyond a lack of emotional intimacy. But it’s definitely a good place to start digging.

13. You don’t talk about your feelings

Has your spouse consistently been unkind and judgemental to you? Have you been able to talk to them about your feelings without being hurt in the process?

It’s hard to truly talk to someone when you are shut down. You probably don’t want to share your feelings anymore because of past reactions.

14. You don’t go to your spouse for help

If your spouse doesn’t make you feel secure, you’re a lot less likely to go to them for help when things get tough. Who is your support system? If it’s not your spouse, take a look at the reason why.

15. You feel like you live separate lives

Do you know what struggles your husband is facing at work? Do you know why your wife has been feeling down lately? If you don’t make the effort to connect emotionally, soon you won’t know much about each other’s lives.

Once there is a lack of emotional intimacy in marriage, you begin to separate emotionally. This can lead to feeling like you live separate lives.

couple upset with their lack of emotional intimacy in their marriage

Effects of a lack of emotional intimacy in a relationship

How does a lack of intimacy affect a relationship? Here are some of the effects:

  • A lack of trust: How can you trust each other if you can’t talk? Emotional intimacy issues in a marriage can easily lead to a lack of trust between a couple.
  • Unappreciation: When you can’t express your feelings to each other, you’ll feel like your thoughts don’t matter. In turn, you feel unappreciated.
  • Distancing yourself from your spouse: The less intimacy in a marriage, the more distancing there will be. Marriages need emotional intimacy to thrive.
  • Looking for comfort elsewhere: While emotional neglect and cheating do sometimes go together, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doomed to have an affair. It does mean that you will go looking for emotional intimacy in others. Maybe you’ll begin to go out with your friends more. This will lead to less time with your spouse, which will only further worsen the issue.
couple experiencing the effects of a lack of emotional intimacy in a relationship
  • An increase in arguing: Arguments will become the norm when emotional intimacy is lacking.
  • Resentment: It can be easy to resent your spouse if you feel like they are not truly there for you.
  • Awkwardness once your kids grow up and move out: I’ve spoken with a few empty-nesters and the happily married ones all say the same thing. They’re glad they invested in their marriages before their kids moved out. It made for less awkwardness and more happiness once they were alone.

How do you fix a lack of emotional intimacy?

Are you ready to fix the lack of emotional intimacy in your marriage? Wondering how to connect with an emotionally absent spouse?

Building emotional intimacy revolves around kindness, vulnerability, and patience. Here are some ways to get started:

1. Earn your spouse’s trust through actions

2. Make appreciation a habit

3. Practice kindness when your spouse shares their thoughts and feelings

4. Take care of each other

5. Care about your spouse and your marriage

Want to learn 14 more ways to build emotional intimacy? Read my post here. You’ll find great tips, along with very specific ways to implement them. Learn how to stop neglecting your partner!

Final Thoughts: Lack of Emotional Intimacy in Marriage – Can a marriage survive without emotional intimacy?

The importance of emotional intimacy should not be undermined. I am not a therapist.

However, I have been married for 7 years at the time I’m writing this. Josh and I have worked through conflict as it has risen in our marriage. We are able to work through things because we have trust and appreciation in our marriage. We have to give credit to our strong emotional intimacy.

Where do you struggle with emotional intimacy in your marriage? I hope this post has helped you recognize areas of improvement and given you the courage to make changes.

Lack of emotional connection in relationships can take their toll

Don’t let a lack of emotional connection in your relationship continue. I hope this blog post has helped shed some light on your unique situation and given you steps to make positive changes.

signs your marriage lacks emotional intimacy

12 thoughts on “Lack of Emotional Intimacy in Marriage: 15 Alarming Signs to Look For”

  1. I’m only 4+ years into my marriage and I needed to read this! Interestingly I’m the more “distant” one compared to my husband!

    1. I’m so glad this could be of help to you! Emotional intimacy is SO important in a marriage. I hope you’re able to use some of these tips 🙂

  2. Such a valuable post on the importance of looking at emotional intimacy in your marriage and partnership. Oftentimes people overlook this or ignore it and over time it leads to resentment and lack of trust within the relationship.

    1. Very good point on the resentment part! We need to focus on the little things that help bring us closer in our marriage. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post!

  3. Such a great post, especially the part about being open to being vulnerable which many of us are intimidated by. I agree sometimes people don’t realize emotional intimacy is just as important. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Your spouse should be the one person you can be totally vulnerable with. But yes, it’s very tough sometimes! No one truly likes to feel vulnerable. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post!

  4. Working at a marriage is a tough thing to do at times but it is SO important. We get so caught up in our busy lives sometimes that we don’t realize when our partner needs us emotionally. Your tips on acknowledging and fixing lack of emotional intimacy in a marriage are so helpful!

    1. Thank you so much! It’s unfortunately very easy to have a lack of emotional intimacy in a marriage. That’s why I was so adamant about writing this post.

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